By Elizabeth Snead
January 7, 2009
Daniel Orlandi, costume designer for " Frost/Nixon," starring Michael Sheen as British TV personality David Frost and Frank Langella as former President Richard Nixon, was surprised to find that most of the clothing worn by these men in 1977 is still being manufactured, sold and worn today.
While "Frost/Nixon" is set in the late '70s, it doesn't have that tacky, trendy look we think of from that decade. Why is that?
Armani was already selling in America in 1977. Some people looked trendy and strange in the '70s, but many did not. We were focused on Hollywood in 1977 and people really don't look so very different now.
What about David Frost's eclectic wardrobe?
David Frost was a British bon vivant. And even their style hasn't changed that much. Most of his clothing came from a British clothier called Turnbull & Asser, which has been in business for over a century. They still make those same shirts. The white collared striped shirts. It's a very British thing and it was one of David Frost's key looks; the contrasting white collar and cuffs with a patterned shirt body.
How did you research Nixon's suits?
We went to the Nixon Library and they let us look through the archives and inspect some of the man's actual suits. We took measurements of the lapels and the tops and checked out the brands. He was a Republican and the suits and styles haven't really changed much.
Does it look any different from Dick Cheney? It's all still very conservative.
Both actors wore the same suits through several days of interviews.
That's right. Even though it was different days, they put on the same outfits so it would seem like it was all shot in one day. They even wore the same ties. Although they probably had more than one shirt.
Rebecca Hall got to wear some smashing '70s styles.
It was very fun to dress Rebecca, who plays socialite Caroline Cushing, Frost's then girlfriend. Caroline still lives in California.
I finally got to meet her at the L.A. premiere and she was wearing one of her Halston jackets from the '70s and she didn't look at all dated. That's the thing, you can look at a picture of Ali McGraw from the '70s and she looks perfectly current.
What other designers did you use for Rebecca?
Rebecca has a great body, tall and thin, but we had to make all of her clothes because she is so tall. We had to rework a Missoni evening gown into a day dress for her, but then we made everything else. I went through magazines of the time and actually pictures of Caroline at the time as well. We sort of stuck to St. Laurent, Halston, Calvin Klein, Missoni, just these great iconic '70s designers.
Do those clothes still look modern?
The Halston clothes especially do. They were so modern and sleek. I think of Rebecca like a sleek racehorse, where she's this exquisite prize. So we did a lot of liquid jersey, bold colors, and white and black. And Cartier lent us some beautiful jewelry from that period.
What scenes were the most demanding?
One of the biggest scenes was 150 or 200 people in a discotheque. Another was for the Hollywood premiere of "The Slipper and the Rose."
Another big scene with many extras took place in the lobby of the Beverly Hilton. And our big day was at Heathrow Airport. Ron [Howard] wanted to show how you could travel back then. Just sail through customs and never stop. It was so different than it is today. They get out of the limousine, walk through the airport, wave to the girl, Frost shows them his passport, and they walk on the plane.
Those were the days.
Snead writes the Dish Rag blog at TheEnvelope.com.
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