interview, q&a, style, costume design, steven noble, the two faces of january

Costumer designer Steven Noble has worked for a variety of films to create individual looks which not only set the mood, but help the film to come full circle. His most recent work has been on The Two Faces of January, hitting cinemas June 19, which is a beautiful film set in the sun-kissed ruins of 1960s Athens, starring Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst and Oscar Isaac. SheSaid exclusively chatted with Steven himself about creating looks for the three very different main characters, where he gained inspiration, and how you can incorporate the 1960s trends into your own style.

Firstly, what a fantastic film with intricate details in costume and set design which transported viewers to 1960s Greece! What are some key trends to look out for if women want to recreate this look but still keep a modern influence to their outfit?

Some key silhouettes at the time would have to be the much fuller skirt with the petticoat underneath, or a dress which has been cinched in at the waist which is what I went for with Kirsten’s character (Colette). But I really think it’s about choosing the best silhouette for your body shape, but take those classic 1960’s shapes and mix it up with a modern piece.

We especially loved Colette’s (Kirsten Dunst’s character) dress in the opening scene of the film at the Parthenon. The pastel yellow outfit cinched in waist, also seeing the iconic Chanel 2.55 bag which is still so relevant today. How important was it to create these looks for the big screen, but still remain historically accurate?

The whole world is watching the film, and also my peers as well so it was extremely important to be accurate to the period. But obviously to bring your own point-of-view onto it and your own finger print with it, and hopefully create something that does the job and feels genuine. But also to remain fresh, modern and create something we haven’t seen a million times before in another film or even television.

Is there a particular process you have when coming up with certain outfits for characters? Do you sketch?

You obviously need to read the script first of all, which can offer lots of characterisations in terms of which will give you a little more insight into the personalities we’re dealing with. Then I always like to read the novel as well which can give additional insight, influence and inspiration and after that start looking at footage and fashions of the time. Now with the internet you have instant access to a billion people’s old photographs which is amazing and then start coming up with mood boards for each character and create clippings with additional swatches and sketches. You then take it to show the director and the actors, then head into conversations about it all. If they’re successful, the sketches are then made up in mock-fabrics and followed by fittings. It’s an extremely exciting and organic process that can go into very different directions once you start working with the actors and the clothing itself.

Sounds fantastic. Which character was the most fun to dress up, and where did you gain inspiration from?

It’s hard to say really, because the three main characters have such different elements which were great to work with. With Rydal (Oscar Isaac’s character) he was a bit more put together, travelling through Europe for 1-2 years so his clothes were based on Greek clothing at the time. Then with Chester (Viggo Mortensen’s character) you’ve got someone who had more money so his style was a bit more high-end from that period. I couldn’t actually say I have a favourite, I’m afraid! I liked all three, but for different reasons.

They were great, my favourite was Chester actually. I didn’t expect it to be, but by the end of the film the Panama-style hat’s and beige suits really won me over!

I think that if perhaps I had to make a decision it would have to be Chester as well. It was finding those beautiful finishing touches that really brought it to life; trying to find the right cufflink or the right shape of shoe, the right sock. That was probably the most exciting when he (Chester) came together. Strangely in Viggo’s fitting, I travelled to Barcelona since he couldn’t make it to London; he had no idea what his costumes would actually look like until he put them on that day!

Many thanks to Steven Noble.

Image via StudioCanal

By Felicia Sapountzis