Award that suit an Oscar: Meet the real star of Fatal Attraction, Basic Instinct and now Indecent Proposal . . . Nino Cerruti. Roger Tredre reports
Saturday 08 May 1993
defying quality of Moore's breasts. Look at Redford's suits: swelegant, six-button double-breasted, modern but not too hip. Peak lapels, of course, and with the slight suppression at the waist that emphasises the lean form beneath.
The man has known how to look the part ever since The Great Gatsby and The Sting, but Indecent Proposal marks a real return to form for the Redford wardrobe. Not retro, mind you. This is top-notch contemporary men's schmutter from Italian designer- label Cerruti 1881. Elegant but not flashy. 'Oh no,' says Bernie Pollack, costume designer, who has worked on 25 films with Redford. 'We had to be careful not to make Bob's character look like a sleazy high-roller.'
That meant no shiny fabrics, no glitzy jewellery and classic tones of blue, grey and black. 'I would have liked to have used French cuffs,' confides Pollack. 'But this might have implied a slickness that wasn't right for the character. The shirts were all in off-white, pure white, light blue and a few stripes.'
What about Redford's ties? 'Deep rich silk ties with small patterns, no stripes at all. And a subtle accent with silk pocket squares, very conservative in colour and design.' Mock not. These details matter. Indecent Proposal is full of intimate scenes with lots of close-ups. A well chosen wardrobe can tell an audience more about a character than a page of script.
The power of cinema and its inter- relationship with fashion should never be underestimated. Usually the female costumes get the attention, but it might be argued that outfits worn by the male film stars have been equally influential.
In the Thirties, men copied Jimmy Cagney's pinstriped suits and snap- brim fedoras. In the Forties, they went for Clark Gable's broad-shouldered suits and bold ties. In the Sixties, they were lured into the slim-line Italian-inspired clothes worn by Marcello Mastroianni in La Dolce Vita.
Cinema, and in particular Hollywood cinema, has produced men's tailoring of rare elegance. Costume designers can put together perfect wardrobes on film. They conjure up magical escapist worlds where men's suits never develop creases, and shirts are always crisp and white. How men wish it could be so in real life.
Many menswear designers openly admit they draw inspiration from Hollywood. Giorgio Armani has loved the films of the Thirties and Forties ever since childhood, when the local cinema was the only form of entertainment in Piacenza. Cinema, he says, is 'my second love - outside fashion'. Armani has designed several screen wardrobes, most memorably for Brian De Palma's The Untouchables. But the fashion designer with the longest track record of working with Hollywood is Nino Cerruti, who supplied Redford's suits. Since 1986, Cerruti's clothes have starred in 39 films, including Fatal Attraction, Pretty Woman, The Silence of the Lambs and Basic Instinct.
Like Armani (who once worked for him), Cerruti has an almost childlike delight at being involved in the film world. 'I love it,' he says. 'Such a break from routine. All that glamour.' Cerruti, a charming, sophisticated veteran of the international menswear world, has always had an eye for publicity. In the Sixties, he painted a dozen sports cars petrol blue and had them driven through the streets of Rome into the lobby of a hotel - with Anita Ekberg in the lead car. It was his way of introducing a new colour to the fashion market.
Cerruti is open about his motives. 'Where else can you affect the minds and attitudes of so many? When film stars are dressed in your clothing, the impact internationally is enormous.'
This is why the Oscar night has turned into a fashion battleground, with rival designers vying to dress the stars. They know the value in marketing terms. But Cerruti prefers to concentrate on the films rather than the Oscars and so has had a lasting, if under-acknowledged, impact on menswear in the Eighties and Nineties. So take a good look at Redford's suits: they make that indecent proposal seem, well, almost decent.
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