‘Licorice Pizza’ Costume Designer on Alana Haim’s Vintage Look, eBay Duplicates – WWD

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“Happiness and nostalgia are what we need right now,” says Mark Bridges, the costume designer for Paul Thomas Anderson’s ’70s bait, “Licorice Pizza.” The film, which stars Alana Haim as Alana Kane and Cooper Hoffman as Gary Valentine (with Bradley Cooper and Sean Penn in supporting roles) stands out in the costume department for its clothing years. Effortless 70s that don’t feel costumed at all. but more like impeccable vintage finds. For the film, which released slowly through the winter and opens wide on February 11, Anderson tapped Mark Bridges, who served as the costume designer for each of the PTA films. Bridges, a four-time Oscar nominee and two-time winner, says it was especially enjoyable to work on something as nostalgic as “Licorice Pizza” in the current state of the world.

“It’s a great antidote right now to whatever’s going on and whatever stress we’re feeling. And it’s so smart of Paul to have kind of seen that in the timing,” Bridges said on a Zoom call. “It’s not something heavy like, ‘There will be blood.’ We’re running around the streets with Gary and Alana, and they’re having a great time. And I think that’s part of its charm and its success, certainly.

Below, WWD chats with Bridges about the project.

WWD: Obviously, you worked a lot with Paul. What was the first conversation you had with him about this film?

Mark the bridges: It’s funny, I was working on “News of the World” with Tom Hanks, and I met Gary Goetzman, who is a producer for Tom. And then I learn from Paul that it is on him that he bases himself vaguely [the character of Gary Valentine] to. I thought, “That’s very strange. I didn’t even know they were friends. I got the script, then I started seeing family photos of Gary and figuring out how to illustrate some of these interesting characters. And we always go back and forth to his studio where we listen to music, he calls me and says, “Play Turner Classic Movies now. Because that’s what we need to see. And for better or for worse, I’m usually willing to be able to do that. And then I find out what kind of film we make.

WWD 😀Did you buy a lot of vintage pieces? Did you have anything custom made?

MB: I think it’s half and half. We were doing this in the summer of 2020 so of course everyone was still learning how to cope with COVID[-19]. Vendors were unavailable or manufacturers were unavailable. It really got difficult. Luckily, here in Los Angeles, we have plenty of rental houses that have, thank goodness, kept all that clothing from different time periods. So you can check out the 1970s section for women and get away with it. You literally go through thousands of clothes trying to glean what would work in your image. And often things hadn’t really survived. It’s a funky, cool shape, but there’s a big fade mark on the sleeves. Or jeans or pants are particularly difficult because they have been washed for 50 or 60 years. And so you have to copy and redo. And then you find fabrics, which I love to do.

We have also done business with vintage dealers. We say what we want, they would send us a big box of things we could browse and then send back what we didn’t need to keep. You try to get things from everywhere. I had an amazing cutter, Margarita Kalend. She made the swimsuits, the polka dot swimsuit that [Alana] walks. This backless, two-piece, Margarita has turned this from a vintage maxi dress into this two-piece thing. She did the white skort at first. I’m not going to find a white skort that suits this girl. We need to. You’re not going to find the polka dot bikini because it’s kind of a gag. The teenage polka dot bedspread, you gotta do it.

Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman in “Licorice Pizza”.
Melinda Sue Gordon

WWD: Is there a particular historical figure, celebrity, designer or someone whose style you modeled on Alana?

MB: Well, you look at a character and you try to think, “Seriously, where would they buy? Where do they access the clothes? And it always came back to the mall. I came back to Chess King and Lerner. And then of course, coming from a family with two sisters, we imagine that they can exchange clothes or carry each other’s things. And then you go from there. But then you also think about their economic status. Catalogs Sears, Montgomery Ward. They weren’t very wealthy, so that’s the average person’s accessibility to period clothing. And then of course, for me, they have to be interesting to watch. I always talk about extraordinary ordinary clothes that I try to make. Going back to the old Hollywood philosophy of movie costumes, “if they can get it in their local store, that’s not extraordinary enough”. So I try to take people for a little ride or do something, also very specific to that exact moment.

WWD: It reminds me of the slogan t-shirt she’s wearing.

MB: It’s a cigarette slogan. Paul asked for a T-shirt with a few words on it. And he sent me one, it said something like, “I’ll try anything once.” So we made one. We got legal permission with that. And then I also thought, “OK, what could be from this period?” And I remember the cigarette ads, that slogan, that was a moment in time. I looked on eBay to see if they had any real clothes like this. And they did, but we couldn’t get legal permission. So my wardrobe supervisor and I worked on the lettering, erased it, screen-printed it, sized the thing, and put it on a vintage T-shirt. And it was just to fulfill Paul’s request for a T-shirt with words on it. And he liked it a lot because you couldn’t really read it. It didn’t take your eyes off Alana. And then who knew it would become such an iconic piece. I think it’s so much fun when that happens and completely just because I was trying to fulfill Paul’s request.

Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman in 'Licorice Pizza'

Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman in “Licorice Pizza”.

WWD: Is this the piece that caught the most attention, from your point of view?

MB: Someone told me there was a seller on eBay or Etsy, or whatever, that had a lot of these things. And after the movie came out, he sold everything. So I would say, probably yes. I also get a lot of comments about her brown long sleeve mini dress, which she wears so well. I mean, it’s also that moment in time, the length of a skirt.

WWD: What was it like working with Alana?

MB: Our very first fitting I had at her house for a camera test. And we immediately hit it off. He is a very accessible, funny, very cool person. And in fact, some of the first things that we had in that rough cut actually ended up in the final product. But she was very open to things. She knew my history with Paul. And she loves Paul. There was a lot of trust and I felt very protective of her because I knew it was her first film. I know Paul loved his ability so much for this film. And I just wanted to do good by all of them. I definitely took a protective stance towards her to make sure she was good. As well as with Cooper. I’ve known Cooper since he was little. So that was kind of fun too.

Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman in 'Licorice Pizza'

Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman in “Licorice Pizza”.
Courtesy of Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures Inc.

WWD: Speaking of Cooper, tell me a bit about the white suit he wears with the pink shirt underneath.

MB: We found this at a rental place, but it still had its tags on it. And the label inside was from an obscure store in the Valley. So I knew it was gold. I knew it was just gold. The reason it was there, if I remember correctly, I think Paul wanted it to be like Gary’s “Casino” moment where he opened up his pinball machine and wanted to have that imagery of Robert De Niro in “Casino”. This is another piece that gets a lot of comments too because he wears it so well. And it’s such an interesting piece too. The fabric, the seams, the shape of things, it’s from that moment.

Cooper Hoffman in

Cooper Hoffman in “Licorice Pizza”.
Melinda Sue Gordon

WWD: Did Alana’s background as a musician play a role in how she wore the clothes or presented them on camera?

MB: I think in terms of how she loved the 70s, I think she told me that she and her sisters loved the 70s. was really his time. Just the way she looked, her figure was truly that moment in time. So, if anything, it may have helped her to love that period and feel comfortable in those fabrics and shapes. And knew them from his musical days.

WWD: The whole look of the clothes looks like things people might be wearing right now in New York or LA, which goes back to what you said about “ordinary extraordinary.” How do you do this consciously?

MB: Thank you. That’s what we always try to do with Paul: we try to tell a story with the clothes, but we never really get to it, so to speak. You don’t want to drag people out of the moment being distracted by those clothes. You want them to come out humming the story, not the clothes. But then maybe look back on it later and think, “OK, that was kinda cute.” Or, “It added to my experience.” Just to make them laugh.

Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman in 'Licorice Pizza'

Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman in “Licorice Pizza”.
Photo credit: Paul Thomas Anders

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