If we’ve learned anything at all from the Golden Globes, the Critics’ Choice, and the SAG Awards this season, it’s that Silver Linings Playbook will be THE movie to beat at the Oscars come Sunday night. Oh, and if you still haven’t seen it yet? Crawl out from whatever rock you’re hiding under all winter and head to the movie theater STAT because this is one film that’s truly too good to sleep on. But first, check out our interview with costume designer Mark Bridges, otherwise known as the creative mastermind behind all of the flick’s amazing outfits. We’re talking about Bradley Cooper’s garbage bag workout uniform, Jennifer Lawrence’s black-on-black ensembles, and even the pair’s epic dance performance looks. Before the cast turns out on the red carpet this weekend, Mark was nice enough to chat with us about the secret to style authenticity, dressing J.Law, and how her off-duty workout clothes inspired the film’s MOST important outfit.
MTV Style: Hi Mark, huge congratulations on the film! We can’t wait to see what happens at the Oscars this weekend. Did you ever expect Silver Linings Playbook to be such a big critical and commercial success?
MARK BRIDGES: No I didn’t, and it’s really quite overwhelming. I’ve worked with the director [David O. Russell] several times and we were just trying to make the best film that we could. And you know, keep your eyes on telling that story. You never know when these films are going to take off and capture the public’s imagination in the way that it has. It’s extraordinary.
What’s the first step in designing the costumes for a movie like this one?
For this movie I waited until I first got to Philadelphia for research, because the film is so much about what it means to be working class Philadelphia. I had no idea about the intensity of Eagles fans and that it was really a thing there. Also, like so many places, very specific. David had certain ideas about the father’s character, there are things written in the script and the original material and I was taking bits and pieces from that. Then it’s about the actors and talking about what they feel and what they need to create their characters. Basically my process was: I got there, I researched, I went to the areas where we’d be shooting and tried to immerse myself in Philadelphia culture.
Did you and Jennifer discuss the costumes for Tiffany?
Yes, Jennifer and I went through several version of her character. When we first got together it was much more broad and eccentric, and Jennifer was very open to what I had been bringing to the table. In this case it’s better to have a bunch of clothes right there in the room with you and go through them, so then you can try them on and everyone is on the same page. There’s always a great back and forth with Jennifer; she’s very open and like many actors, is concerned that she was free to do whatever she needed to do in the clothes.
Tiffany was dealing with some tough issues throughout the film. How did the clothing she wore reflect this emotional instability?
That’s really interesting that you should ask that. From the outset this girl stands out in the neighborhood- not only because of her history while she was mourning the death of her husband- but because she wears black. It could be artistic, it reflects mourning, but it’s also sexy. The color separates her from the rest of the middle class neighborhood as being kind of an artist. I think keeping her edgy and a bit of a dark cloud inside this world that’s not black, it makes her stand out and says something about her that it’s not your average girl.
It’s so true, like how her black trench coat and black lacy shirt can send very distinct messages. Where did you shop for her clothing?
I went to the mall. Her character even mentions King of Prussia mall in both the book and the film, so I felt it would make the most sense for her. Of course there was some shopping at Neiman’s, Bebe, Charles David for boots, and Zara for her coat. Tiffany’s not a poor girl; she could spend some money on her clothes, so I did try to shop where a character would shop. I thought that the King of Prussia mall was a good indicator, and those stores I went to were in line with what Tiffany would like.
An outfit that’s become synonymous with the movie in my mind is Bradley Cooper’s running outfit and his garbage bag…it’s basically burned into my brain.
Oh yes! Pat is so desperate to lose the weight and get back his wife, and he really did the extra steps to use the garbage bag. The result is just funny and a little sad, but also so guy-practical. Like, a guy would really do that. It works on many levels and sums up the film so well. I’m glad the image in burned into your brain [laughing].
Another outfit that’s impossible to forget is Jennifer and Bradley’s final performance looks, which is kind of a DIY take on Dancing With The Stars costumes. What’s the inspiration behind those?
David O. Russell showed me some rehearsal footage of Jennifer and Bradley dancing, and he really loved how Jennifer looked in this one particular outfit that she was wearing one day while rehearsing. So we actually used it as the template to create the dance costume! What she wore was essentially the shape of a sports bra with exercise pants, and I modified it by adding the sleeves and a lurex net that sort of shimmered. The result was show biz-y, but didn’t seem TOO professional. It would’ve looked ridiculous if she had been done up like all those pro dancers, so it turned out right.
And both outfits are white, which is a nice contrast from all the black in the movie.
Yes, you feel them really falling in love there at the end. We’ve had a little bit of a different ending while we were working at some point, but I felt like the vague imagery of a wedding wasn’t completely out of the realm. It’s not forced on the viewer, but the idea is definitely there five layers down. The white also is a guarantee to keep your eyes on them, especially set against the dark room and the colored light.
Finally, we’ve got to give it up to Jennifer. Major props to her for working the white spandex, which is not the easiest thing to pull off!
Brave move on Jennifer’s part, indeed! Definitely not everyone wants to wear cream-colored spandex under bright lights in a movie, but you know what? She was bold and brave, and she really looked great.