Emma Stone’s Gangster Squad behind-the-scenes wardrobe secrets revealed - EXCLUSIVE
Ryan Gosling’s co-star was dressed by Costume Designer Mary Zophres on the set who transformed the characters into the fashion of 1940’s Los Angeles
Gangster Squad - the action-packed blockbuster starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling - is now available on DVD. We caught up with award-winning costume designer Mary Zophres to learn about 1940s style, why she hates sportswear and what it's like to work with one of Hollywood's hottest actresses.
When we meet Grace, Emma Stone's character in Gangster Squad, the actress is wearing a red dress which would give Jessica Rabbit a run for her money.
The role isn't just perfect for Emma, but for the character too - a naive out-of-towner who's arrived in Hollywood seeking fortune and fame.
"The dress is my favourite outfit," recalls Mary, Gangster Squad's costume designer.
"The dresses were made from scratch, and when Emma tried it on my jaw dropped. It was a showstopper, and did everything I wanted it to do – it embodied the glamour of that time."
Emma Stone plays Grace Faraday, a young woman hoping to find fame as an actress, but who ends up falling for a mobster.
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[The real life story behind Gangster Squad]
"Not only was Emma playing a part but her character was also playing a part," explains Mary.
"Instead of becoming an actress she ended up on the arm of a gangster. Her character would have been influenced by actresses such as Rita Hayworth. Wearing that dress was her attempt to be one of those people."
Mary couldn't resist showing off Emma's shapely legs - even if it meant breaking a few 1940s fashion rules.
"The dress's leg slit went higher than it would have in the 1940's but you don't want to be completely bound by the constraints of period dress," says Mary, who was a fan of another of Emma's body parts.
"She has beautiful arms which aren’t overly worked out. It drives me crazy when women in period films have muscly arms. It just didn’t happen - women didn’t lift weights back then!" she said.
For Emma, the role represented uncharted territory. "She was nervous because she’s always portrayed younger women but she was portraying a very womanly woman," reveals Mary.
"The formality of the costumes was helpful – it was a more mature, sultry look."
The constraints of 1940s fashion proved restricting in more ways than one. "Women had smaller waists," explains Mary.
"It was about training your body from a young age, but you don't get that hourglass shape now. Emma doesn’t either so we just pushed everything in and made her waist several inches smaller."
How did Emma react to being pushed and pulled? "She was a trooper!" reveals Mary.
"I think she liked the costumes - they gave her a posture she doesn’t usually have - the chest is pushed out, and it's generally more of a sultry posture."
It appears Emma also harboured somewhat of a 1940s shoe fetish. "Feet seem to be getting wider, but Emma's are narrow. She struggles to find comfortable shoes, but footwear from that period was narrower.
When she tried on the shoes from the film, she was like Cinderella - she told me that they felt great, and to hear that come out of an actress's mouth when they're putting on period shoes is rare."
So how did Mary do her research? "I started by looking at old fashion magazines. I also looked at catalogues and old newspapers and looked at screen stars from that time period,” she said.
“Emma's character was trying to emulate stars like Rita Hayworth so we looked at the styles of people like Rita and Lauren Bacall."
What advice can Mary offer for those hoping to channel their 1940s screen siren?
"It's about tailoring and knowing what's flattering and what emphasises your strong points. Looking "put together" is very important. There was a formality back then which we've lost - I blame sneakers! People didn’t wear Crocs and yoga pants – they actually got dressed."
Luckily, Mary believes us Brits - especially Londoners - are blessed with natural style. "I think Londoners have amazing style. I think it comes from working in a city where there’s more formality – you dress up and put some structure on your body."
Mary admits that this is something which comes easily to Emma. "She's one of the best dressed women around and she has great style. She gets boxes of clothes sent to her every day but if she sees something she likes, she’ll just buy it. She always looks put together."
Although, we've got a tiny suspicion that somewhere, in the dark recesses of her very large wardrobe, even Emma Stone's got a pair of scruffy sneakers.
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[Buy Gangster Squad on Amazon]
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