Blake Lively and costume designer Angus Strathie take us through the fashions in the upcoming movie, The Age of Adaline, and how she fashionably “schemed” her way into the film.
Blake Lively’s Adaline is timeless – literally.
Something magical has happened to Adaline Bowman. After remaining 29 years old for almost eight decades, Adaline has lived a solitary existence, never allowing herself to get close to anyone who might reveal her secret. But a chance encounter with charismatic philanthropist Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman) reignites her passion for life and romance. When a weekend with his parents (Harrison Ford and Kathy Baker) threatens to uncover the truth, Adaline makes a decision that will change her life forever.
It’s a beautiful story that also gives us a glimpse into the fashions that have shaped Adaline’s life - and one that was challenging to create on-screen.
From sumptuous formal gowns to everyday work clothes, everything Adaline wears was carefully selected and designed by Academy Award®-winning costume designer Angus Strathie and his team.
“It’s a complex storyline with many characters. The story takes place over almost a century. I was asked to define each of those periods, as well as the moods and emotions of this character through that time.”
Working closely with Lively and director Lee Toland Krieger, Strathie developed a concept that kept Adaline connected to her past, but anchored in the present.
“We wanted a retro feel to all her clothes to emphasize that Adaline is an old soul,” says Strathie. “She appears contemporary, young and lovely, but she has the essence of someone who has been here for a hundred years. She hasn’t stopped buying clothes. When she does, she picks things with an eye toward the clothes she grew up with. She always looks smart, but not flashy.”
To create a character that was beautiful and ageless, but had been around for 100-plus years, Krieger used his grandmother as an inspiration. “All of her wardrobe is contemporary, but still has a touch of ’40s, because that’s when she was coming of age. That’s her touchstone for what’s en vogue. It ended up being an effective way of communicating something essential about Adaline,” he says. “A woman of her generation would want to look elegant and put together, but she would never look like a garish woman trying to attract attention. A woman who was born in 1908 wouldn’t do that.”
From jewelry to handbags to coats, Strathie ran with the idea that Adaline had a closet full of clothing that she had acquired during her long lifetime. “Incorporating those vintage pieces into her contemporary look gives her an individual style,” he says. “For a date with Ellis, she starts with a jacket from the 1920s—a Bohemian, very individual piece. She wears it with a sweater from the 1960s and a contemporary skirt. Her shoes are from the ’50s or ’30s and the handbag was ’40s. Mixing styles became Adaline’s personal look. She draws from all of her time on earth and she gets a sense of security from her wardrobe.”
One piece in particular shows up twice in the story, a black column dress that calls to mind a formal gown from the 1940s. Adaline wears the dress on New Year’s Eve in both that decade and this one. “We had to find a dress that was going to service two periods,” the designer explains. “One is very identifiably the 1940s where we see her celebrating life and flirting with sailors. She has to look gorgeous, but she also has to wear that dress again on New Year’s Eve 2014 and not look out of place. We looked at authentic ’40s gowns, took the elements that best suited Blake and made a dress that is slightly retro and nostalgic.”
Lively appreciated the juxtaposition of classic and contemporary fashions. “I liked the fact that she’s dressed a little bit like an old lady,” she says. “She’s much more of a particular kind of conservative than most young women in San Francisco.”
“The hemlines and the shapes tell a story that starts in the Edwardian era,” says Lively. “As women’s roles in society change from 1908 to now, you really get to see the social changes in her clothing, her hair and her makeup. Because of that, Adaline has an incredible and incredibly informative wardrobe. I can’t imagine her going to a local mall to shop when she has the pieces she does. I was so honoured to be able to work with such a brilliant mind as Angus to tell her story through costumes, The costumes he created for Moulin Rouge along with Catherine Martin are my favourite costumes I’ve ever seen in a film.”
A woman known for her fashion, Lively had an image of Adaline’s wardrobe in her head even before she was cast in the film. “I schemed my way into the film, I think,” the actress says. “For my meeting with Tom Rosenberg I picked a dress that I thought was very Adaline-like. It reminded me of a dress my mom had; dusty blue with delicate, faded white polka dots. I felt like Adaline when I put it on. Tom told me later, ‘when you walked in, I said, that’s Adaline.’ My scheme worked!”
The actress was as intimately involved with selecting the production wardrobe for her character. Lively is the current face of the Gucci fashion house, and the company provided recent designs that are reminiscent of the ’40s, ’50s, and ‘60s.
“A great deal of what I wear is Gucci,” Lively says. “They have been such a great supporter of the film. My favorite piece is probably the final custom dress. I’m a magpie, so when I see sparkles …that does it. It’s a golden gown with distinct black beaded embellishments. It showcases a very different Adaline than the one you meet in the beginning with the thick, woolly turtlenecks and the grandma shoes. The shift in dress helped to tell her story. The significance of the piece made it that much more beautiful.”
EONE - The Age of Adaline opens on April 24 and stars Blake Lively, Michiel Huisman, Kathy Baker, Amanda Crew, with Harrison Ford, and Ellen Burstyn.