One of the most iconic movie figures of the 1980’s was Michael Douglas as “Greed is good” Gordon Gekko in the original “Wall Street,” written and directed by Oliver Stone. The sequel, “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,” opens this week, and one of the challenges for bringing the character 23 years forward was presented to the costume designer, Ellen Mirojnick. She spoke to Clothes on Film about how “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…..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.
Mirojnick talks about bringing Gekko’s look into the 21st century and about her surprising model in dressing James Brolin, who plays, in a way, the new Gekko, the wealthiest and most powerful (and financially voracious) character in the film.
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.
Mirojnick also spoke to Esquire, explaining that she dressed the characters like movie stars, not like Wall Street financiers and what she said to Oliver Stone when he told her the wardrobe was not authentic.
I said, “It’s a movie, and they’re all going to look like it and we’re elevating the genre. It’s telling the story, Oliver. We’re not doing it to be 100 percent rooted in reality. We’re telling a story in a movie.”
Some costume designers prefer period films, but Mirojnick likes to work on contemporary stories.
People on the outside said to me, “Why do you want to do this movie? It’s about guys in suits.” And I said, “No, it isn’t. It’s about power, money, and seduction.” That’s what grabbed me.