Imagine having unchecked access to Dolce and Gabbana, Roland Mouret, Jenni Kayne, Yigal Azrouel and Céline’s entire collections—millions of dollars’ worth of wardrobe—and not having to foot the bill for any of it. A girl can dream, right?
For celebrity stylist and costume designer Sophia Banks-Coloma, our dream is her reality. Banks-Coloma started working on the wardrobe for the upcoming indie film Syrup (in theaters June 4 and on iTunes on May 5) five months before shooting began, and the looks are so stunningly minimalistic-chic that we just had to find out more about the movie’s designer duds.
Syrup tells the story of Scat (Shiloh Fernandez), a young man who has just invented a new cola drink and needs the support of the uber-confident Six (Amber Heard) to help his product sell. Set in New York City, the film revolves around the notions of image, branding and sex appeal—and how all three are deeply connected. It’s like Mad Men for the modern day, with a little nihilistic Bret Easton Ellis thrown into the mix. Even the characters’ names are the product of market research gone to absurdist extremes.
Of course, if you want success, you have to dress like you mean business. "How far will someone go to sell an image?" asked Banks-Coloma as she worked on the film’s costumes. For Heard’s character, Six, she had to come across as sexy and powerful without being masculine or inappropriate for the workplace. "She’s almost not a person, but an image," says Banks-Coloma.
Creating that image was work. "We had no budget, so I had to pull in eight million favors," she says. But soon enough, clothes and accessories from Dior, Van Cleef & Arpels, Chloé and Cartier started pouring in. "The week before we filmed, when the boxes started arriving…it was like Christmas!" she exclaims. To get the brands she wanted, Banks-Coloma sent off the script for designers to read. They loved it—enough to send the costume whiz a staggering $2.5 million worth of wardrobe for her to work with.
Throughout filming, Banks-Coloma thought about power dressing and the idea that "there’s something very sexy about showing a body shape without showing everything." In the movie, you’ll never see Heard in pants (she only wears one jumpsuit), but she’s constantly shown in a pair of killer heels. "There was a scene where she’s on the rooftop…and we had this whole look planned with amazing heels from Louboutin that were really bright," says Banks-Coloma, who quickly learned that it was illegal to wear stilettos on that particular rooftop. She was able to scrounge up a pair of flats for the scene—but alas, "They were not allowed to go in the shot."
It’s all about perception and how far you’re willing to go to show that you mean business—"fake it ’til you make it," so to speak. Some more faking that will be hard to catch onscreen? "We had already done a scene with these black Van Cleef studs and the earrings had been mis-returned," says Banks-Coloma. "We only had white studs…so we wound up cutting black electrical tape to stick on them. It looked perfect. You never would have realized it."
When she’s not working on film wardrobes, Banks-Coloma dresses celebs like Erika Christensen, Shay Mitchell and Jesse Metcalfe. So what’s the one biggest lesson she’s learned from outfitting the Hollywood set? "I think that tailoring is really important and people don’t realize that—and it doesn’t have to be expensive," she explains. "You can take something to your dry cleaner to have it tailored."
Click through to learn more about Amber Heard’s incredible Syrup wardrobe.
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