Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps – Ellen Mirojnick Costume Q&A

Having created some of the most recognisable contemporary costume design of the 20th century for Wall Street in 1987, Ellen Mirojnick returns to dress belated sequel Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. But how has time altered the broker’s look and what sartorial influences does the current economic climate bring to the new world of finance?

Talking exclusively to Clothes on Film, costume designer Ellen Mirojnick tells us exactly what to expect when director Oliver Stone’s much anticipated follow up hits cinema screens next month.

All the principals’ shirts in the film were made by Anto of Beverly Hills.

Clothes on Film, Chris: How has Wall Street trader attire evolved since the first film?

Ellen Mirojnick: The attire of The Street has evolved. Depending on firm, different dress codes exist. All include moneyed accessories and designer shoes. For example, there is a company lead by an impeccably well-dressed man. He requires every trader and anyone representing his firm to be as polished as he is. From personal grooming to the suitings, they are immaculate. If the code is not met they are sent to the groomer. The look is a very clean style, with a crisp edge. To have the EDGE – the key component is they have to be the EDGE.

At the other end of the spectrum there are firms that encourage a more relaxed casual code. This casualness is head to toe, including no socks with their Gucci or Feragamo loafers. Jackets, shirts and ties are kept in lockers for meetings with clients. At this firm the look on the trading floor is controlled casualness. However, a trader is not allowed on the floor wearing sneakers. There are other small firms, where traders might be in shorts, collared tee’s and baseball hats while trading along side of someone who appears to have stepped out of GQ. The evolution is large.

It feels as if the first Wall Street opened the door to encourage a man to exhibit his personal style. Over the past 23 years, Wall Street has come to symbolize a moneyed style. Always with a certain confidence; one’s own personality and panache. Whether it is as easy as jeans, a button-down, no socks and Gucci loafers or put together in a bespoke ensemble, the pieces are expensive and convey power.

Gekko’s appearance is altered subtly throughout to indicate him reverting to type; the return of the ‘shark’. His distinctive retro style amber sunglasses were made by Barton Perreira. Later in the story he wears a sharkskin blue suit, a distinctive two-toned worsted.

COF: Are the costumes more muted and less showy in this sequel to reflect a change in the economic climate?

EM: The film, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps starts in the summer of 2008, as the crash began to unfold. The world closes in on GREED IS GOOD. New York’s Gilded Age was about to implode. The elements in this film are very rich and naturalistic. As wealth accumulated, during the aughts, the excesses blurred the boundaries of style, causing a gilded muscular appearance. But, when everything is gilded, one cannot discern the showiness or the colourfulness; it all appears to be the same until you get close and see the expense in the details.

COF: Who is behind Michael Douglas’ suits as Gordon Gekko this time around?

EM: This time around Michael Douglas’ Gordon Gekko has a character arc; very different from the first film. Gordon Gekko starts off as a quiet shark circling the story. One doesn’t know when or where that shark will attack. In the film, he has a few different beats, ending with a great Machiavellian Gekko twist. In the beginning of the story, the single-breasted summer suiting in taupe/grey worsted was made by Canali. The costume was designed specifically for Gekko to be a man that blends into the city. When Gekko emerges as the shark we know, I’ve designed his costumes to be BOLD! He is in his element, sharking in a new pool. Gekko shines in satirical splendour. In contrast to the beginning of the film, once he feeds, his costumes become muscular, bold and totally Gekko bespoken.

Jacob’s style is intended as youthful, sharp and modern. He wears a two button collar to match the proportions of his neck.

COF: How about Shia LaBeouf as Jacob? His clothes are obviously hipper and slimmer than Gekko’s. More Italian looking…

EM: Shia LaBeouf’s clothing is all bespoke, as well. Jacob is hip, he is rich, and he wants it all. The cut of his suits have a purposeful sharp silhouette. Every decision about the proportion and perception was made to serve the character, the story and ultimately the actor.

COF: Does the contrast collar and cuffs ‘Gekko shirt’ make a re-appearance?

EM: No, this is 2009, Gekko’s new style is simply powerful, bold and handsome.

Jacob, Bretton and Gekko’s costumes subtly reflect three different generations in the finance trade. They are distinctly different men.

COF: Is Josh Brolin as Bretton James the ‘new Gekko’? How did you go about creating his look?

EM: Josh Brolin is a fetching Bretton James. He is all about presentation, money, power and conquering the world. Bretton is ruthless. This time, the stakes are much bigger than when Gekko originally played with similar ingredients back in the eighties.

When designing a look for a character, I always think about the actor playing the character. I break it down, to build it up. It is an assignment that is architecturally inspired. To think about Bretton, one thinks of Darth Vader.

The short brown leather jacket Jacob sports while riding his motorcycle was made by Belstaff.

COF: How about Carey Mulligan’s costumes as Winnie Gekko, what was your approach with her?

EM: A timeless filmatic silhouette. A mixology of easy urban style.

COF: How involved were the actors in their costumes? Did you discuss with them at length before fittings?

EM: Every actor is very involved determining their costumes, they must be. Everything is discussed, every aspect covered. It is very important that the costume component fit first and foremost with the director’s overall vision of the film.

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is due for release on 24th September in the U.S. and 6th October in the UK.

With thanks to Ellen Mirojnick.

© 2010 – 2014, Lord Christopher Laverty.