Get the Inside Scoop on the Amazing 'Bling Ring' Wardrobe
by Julia Rubin
There is but one summer movie we've been obsessing about for well over a year. That movie is, of course, The Bling Ring. Everything about it sounds like the best. From the director (Sofia Coppola...hello!) to the star (Emma Watson doing her best SoCal vocal fry) to the soundtrack (Frank Ocean's "Super Rich Kids" is truly perfect), the ripped-from-the-headlines story about teenagers breaking into celebrities' homes is a hard thing not to obsess over. Another point of obsession? The clothes!
The film is a study in materialism, and like all of Coppola's work, the visual world she's created is a lush dreamscape. Fashion plays a key role in the plot, which is why we thought a chat with costume designer Stacey Battat was more than necessary. Hardly her first time at the Coppola rodeo, she's the girl responsible for Elle Fanning's wardrobe in the ethereal Somewhere. (Fittingly, the two met 15 years ago when Battat was working at Coppola's good friend Marc Jacobs's store.) She also did costumes for the Girls pilot and How to Make It in America, and is currently on set for the remake of the cult '80s teen romance Endless Love.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about what Battat calls "the greatest project in the for world for someone who likes clothes," piles of Louis Vuitton and all.
What did you look to as inspiration for the Bling Ring wardrobe?
We looked at a ton of old Us Weeklys. We got every back issue from 2003! We had stacks and stacks of magazines at the office. Even just being in LA and having lunch at The Ivy was inspiring. I would never in a million years go to a place like Greystone Manor, but we went there one night and got inspiration for one of the scenes in the movie. One of the waitresses came over with a bottle of champagne that had sparklers sticking out of it. She did a little dance with the bottle, and it was like a whole other reality than the one I live in.
So you were looking at magazines from 2003, but the story is based on events that happened in 2008 and 2009, and the technology in the movie is from 2013. How did this affect the fashion?
Is this a period movie, or is this not a period movie? This was a big conversation that me and Anne Ross, the production designer, had with Sofia. The final resolution was that we wanted to have Juicy sweatsuits, which are obviously not a thing now, but that it was also kind of impossible to make the movie in this day in age without iPhones and Twitter, which didn't exist in 2009 in the same capacity. The ways in which people can pry are just so much more advanced now, and it would be a shame to exclude that, but we also really wanted a Juicy sweatsuit, so we were a little ambiguous about time.
Were most of the items pulled from brands, or did you actually design pieces?
We didn't make a lot of stuff for this movie! We made clothes for Somewhere, but for The Bling Ring, we wanted things you would recognize. We wanted a real Balenciaga bag, an actual Louis Vuitton trunk-these characters wanted the Versace dress because it was the Versace dress. We also used lower-priced brands. Wildfox was a great find. It's very LA, and it really suited those girls. The same with Free City! It's just very LA in a way that it's not New York or Oklahoma or someplace else.
Tell us about the style progression of Nicki, Emma Watson's character that's based on Alexis Neiers.
With all the characters, we wanted to show they were kids that knew what those clothes were. They read tabloid magazines and would see Paris Hilton wearing a Roberto Cavalli dress at a party. We started with them having things that were more accessible to the average teenager who has maybe one pair of $200 jeans if they're lucky. For the most part, they probably wear clothes from Urban Outfitters or Old Navy. And as time progressed, their wardrobe did get more expensive. It was pretty easy to do because we started with clothes that were inexpensive! And at the end, when Nicki dresses like Jackie O outside the courthouse, it was about showing what those type of girls wear when they get arrested. Every day when Lindsay Lohan goes to court, there's a look. She's pleading her innocence, wearing her innocence costume, just like Nicki.
Was it a challenge to dress Marc, the lone guy in Nicki's crew?
Definitely, because what is he getting? The only two males' houses that they go to are Brian Austin Green's and Orlando Bloom's. He stole things like Rolexes, and he bought things like Balenciaga sneakers. I think he ended up with one of those skull McQueen scarves, and he did get these beautiful pink shoes that were custom-made by Louis Vuitton for the movie.
The on-character wardrobe isn't the only fashion focus of the film. How did you fill these celebrity homes and closets with so much amazing stuff?
It was definitely a collaborative effort with Anne Ross and Sarah Parks, the set decorator. Obviously it's not easy to fill the sets with tons of designer things, so I would provide them with a few pieces for someone to steal and we would fill in the rest. We talked a lot about what kind of designers would be in each closet. Nicki got a Rick Owens jacket and Rebecca, who's played by Katie Chang, got an Alexander McQueen dress at Megan Fox's house. When they went to Rachel Bilson's, they got Chanel, and when they went to Paris Hilton's, they got Herve Leger and Versace. We definitely paired designers with who we thought would wear them. For one scene, we pulled together every luxurious thing we had to make it look richer and more opulent. Truth is, there was probably not as much stuff as you guys think there was! We had to fake it in certain ways.
What about all the insane jewelry?
That was real! There was a lot of Bulgari. I contacted them, and they said they could send something like $15 million worth of jewelry, and that a guard could protect $5 million each. Anne and I were looking at the catalogue, and I was like, "Well, these are my four favorite pieces." And they cost about $13.5 million total! They're small, but really expensive. We probably ended up with 10 guards on set that day!
Were brands interested in working with you?
Yes, because it's such an interesting story and also because of Sofia. Even though Paris Hilton isn't a role model to super stylish women, she still has nice things. She may not wear them in a way that somebody else would, but I feel like girls do want her stuff. Girls want Chanel bags. Girls wants jewels. LA girls always want Free City sweatpants. I thought of it as things people covet instead of things that celebrities wear. When it was presented that way, people were really happy to loan us stuff.
What's your favorite look from the movie?
I like Chloe's outfits the best. She was my favorite to dress since she was definitely the most urban LA! She wore a lot of the Wildfox. I found the yellow studded jacket that they get at Lindsay Lohan's house at the end of the movie kind of amusing, and I love the Louis Vuitton cape that Rebecca wears.