While some actresses might steer clear of artificially colored snack foods while in full 70s hair, makeup, and skin-tight, custom-made white gown, Jennifer Lawrence—our charmingly no-fuss Oscar winner—had no qualms about doing just the opposite on the set of American Hustle. During an awards-season discussion last night, moderated by Vanity Fair senior West Coast editor Krista Smith inside Diane von Furstenberg’s Journey of a Dress exhibit in Los Angeles, American Hustle’s Oscar-nominated costume designer Michael Wilkinson explained how he went about transforming Lawrence for her character’s highest-drama moment in David O. Russell’s period piece—and how Lawrence inadvertently mussed the design.
Describing how he translated her character’s unstable mental state in his costume designs, Wilkinson said, “With Rosalyn there was a real dichotomy, almost a schizophrenia. We saw her at home, where she was sort of hiding from the world, she was depressed and falling asleep under a sun lamp. We liked that she didn’t give a damn how she looked [at home] . . . wearing printed muumuus and shapeless things. Then, when she goes out to town, she switches modes and tries to get attention and make her husband jealous.”
The highest-impact design Wilkinson created for Lawrence was a low-cut, white metallic jersey dress that Russell had envisioned Rosalyn wearing during her climactic scene—during which she confronts and kisses her husband’s mistress, played by Amy Adams. “David really had it set in his mind that she would be wearing this dress that she just poured herself into. He wanted to see every single lump and bump. There had to be a sense of, ‘Is she going to fall out of it?’ It had this dangerous feeling to it, which matched her own dangerous mental landscape.”Because her character was originally supposed to spill champagne over herself in the scene, Wilkinson and his costume department constructed four different versions of the dress. “And I’m kind of glad we did,” Wilkinson told the audience inside the historic Wilshire May building, “because Jennifer Lawrence is a very . . . let’s say . . . raw and intuitive young lady, and she’s not against eating Doritos and snack food in her costume. So we were glad that we had a couple [backups].” (Fortunately for the production—the costumes were not too expensive. Russell was so intent on the dress looking cheap and stretchy that Wilkinson chose fabric that only cost $3.99 per yard.)It turns out that Lawrence’s Dorito damage was not the only troublesome stain that Wilkinson confronted.
He revealed that a vintage Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress that Amy Adams’s character wears in an early scene, which was borrowed from a vintage shop in the Midwest, arrived with a wine stain on it. But because “we fell in love with it, Amy loved it, and, David was crazy about it,” the team decided to go about using the dress—stain intact—and even created a back story for the spill. “It struck us that in the film, there’s the whole setup that [her character] takes clothes from the dry cleaner that have been left behind. We thought that we would come up with a back story to justify the stain. Someone left the dress at the dry cleaner, they couldn’t get the stain out.
And it was Amy’s fortune that she got to keep the dress. She didn’t care about the stain because she felt like a million bucks in it, and Christian loved her in it.”Another person who loved her in it: Diane von Furstenberg herself. As the designer, who recently celebrated a very special milestone, told Vanity Fair exclusively: “Two weeks before the opening of my exhibition I saw American Hustle and I was blown away . . . not only did I love the movie and the depth of the characters . . . but to see DVF wrap dresses there, not only as dresses, but as a symbol of Amy Adams’s character coming to terms with her power as a woman . . . that was the best gift I could get for the 40th anniversary of the wrap dress!”
Source: Vanity Fair