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Looper: Costume Designer Sharen Davis Reveals Inspiration

Sharen Davis is already a well established costume designer. Indeed she was Academy Award nominated for Dreamgirls (2006) and recently lauded for her work on The Help (2011). However chances are after Looper and her forthcoming contribution to Quentin Tarantino’s western Django Unchained, Ms. Davis will enter costuming A-List. Looper especially is a departure for her in terms of genre, a sci-fi thriller set in the near future, and yet typically she returned to the past for inspiration. Talking exclusively to Clothes on Film, Sharen Davis explains her unique retro vision for Looper (featuring original costume sketches):

I started my research on the script viewing films from the 1960s that had sets and costumes with concepts of a near future. The films missed the mark though; all dramatic costumes and jumpsuits, these concepts were not our film. I believe costumes reinvent fashions from the past with a twist of a creative futuristic flair.

Looper’s storyline puts us in a period of time where most of the citizens are lower middle class. My design idea for this look was a combination of late 1920s before The Depression and the party scene of the late 1970s. I went for jewel tones, no patterns, and jewellery was used sparingly.

The Loopers’ style is a fusion of the late 1940s and 1960s.Young Joe’s (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) ‘Ike’ (Eisenhower) style kid leather jacket, high waisted straight pants and thin ties made of vintage silk – all were custom. Designing Looper started with Young Joe’s character, then giving all the Looper gang similar looks. Older Joe (Bruce Willis) goes full circle, slightly resembling Young Joe.

The Henchmen in the future wore wide brims which was a concept director Rian Johnson requested, keeping them mysterious. Gatmen coats were a combination of the late 1800s Western dusters made of oiled cotton, yet their style suggests an element of the ‘G-men’ from the 1930s.

Sara (Emily Blunt) is timeless; her farm work clothes are functional, her private moments (negligee) more feminine and soft. Abe’s (Jeff Daniels) costumes are all inspired by his dialog.

With thanks to Sharen Davis. Illustrations © Gina Flannigan.

Looper is released on 28th September.

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