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American Hustle costumes: Oscar nomination

by Alicia Martin. Published Wed 22 Jan 2014 16:05, last updated: 03/02/14

American Hustle is a strong contender to win a gong in the Best Costume category at the Oscars, with a set of amazing threads which perfectly communicate the con artist's mantra: "fake it 'til you make it."

Set in New York in 1978, American Hustle tells the story of a pair of con artists Irving and Sydney, forced to work for Richie DiMaso, an FBI agent intent on bringing down politicians.

Costume Designer Michael Wilkinson spoke of his direct aim to have the costumes and clothes re-invent themselves alongside the characters. As they dressed to become the people they projected as part of their con.

He said: "We wanted the actors to use their costumes as a part of their hustle.

"They dress as the person they aspire to be."

In contrast to the hippie fashion of the 60's, the 70's was the era when flares took centre stage and silhouettes, heels and hemlines became exaggerated.

This meant New York became a glamourous mix of plunging necklines, fur, gowns, gold chains and velvet suits.

Drawing inspiration from Playboy, Vogue, Jerry Hall and Hugh Hefner when creating his costume designs for the movie, Wilkinson also turned to movies and TV shows from the day such as Goodfellas and Saturday Night Fever.

He said: "We looked at endless photographs of ‘real’ people from the period, mostly hard-hitting social documentary from photographers like Allan Tannenbaum.

"But we wanted to cast the net wide to cover the full spectrum so we also looked at lowbrow magazines and advertising."

Wilkinson used authentic pieces from the 1970's to capture the 'edgy mood' of the film. All the fur and accessories worn by the actors were rare vintage pieces sourced from specialist collectors across America.

Wilkinson was also allowed exclusive access to the world famous Halston's vintage vault - a costume designers dream.



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