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The Bling Ring's Costume Designer On Working With Emma Watson and the All-Important Juicy Tracksuit

Emma Watson in The Bling Ring

It’s every girl’s dream to raid a celebrity's closet, but for this summer’s ripped-from-the-tabloids indie film The Bling Ring, it was costume designer Stacey Battat’s job to do just the opposite—she had to fill them. Sofia Coppola’s latest project (opening this Friday, June 14) is based on the story of the infamous real-life Bling Ringers, a group of Los Angeles teens who took style-stealing to a criminal level between 2008 and 2009. In the film, Nicki (Emma Watson) and her band of thieves burglarize the homes of Megan Fox, Orlando Bloom, Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton (the latter of whom even makes an onscreen cameo). Battat worked hard to make sure the clothes in the film's closets accurately reflected the personal styles of their celeb owners. Read on as the talented costume designer tells Lucky how she came up with the cast's outfits, where she finds her style inspiration and what it was like working with Emma Watson.

Lucky: How did you go about stocking the celebrity closets?

Stacey Battat: The stocking of the celebrity closets was definitely a collaborative effort between myself, Anne Ross (the production designer) and Sara Park (the set decorator). We talked about what types of designers would be in each person’s closet and tried to work together to achieve the look. For the most part, they filled up the closets and I provided the clothes in the foreground—but in some instances, when the scene called for it, we really just got together a pile of the best stuff we had cumulatively and filled it up. That said, we were very conscious of who would have what items. Rebecca (Katie Chang) snags an Alexander Wang black leather dress and Nicki (Emma Watson) grabs a Rick Owens jacket at Megan Fox’s house, while at Paris' house Nicki and Sam (Taissa Farmiga) found Hervé Léger and Versace. We tried to be as accurate as we could about what we thought each person would have.

How did you come up with the look for all the Bling Ring members?

It's always a collaboration between myself, the director and the actor, and always a mixture of inspiration, real life and fantasy. Sofia and I talked a lot about who these kids are, these kids who desperately want to be famous, and essentially went back and forth about whether they all had the same identity or were individual. In the end they each ended up with distinct character traits reflected within their costumes, but originally we thought about them all looking the same. I did some minor research on the Bling Ringers but ultimately wanted our characters to be a little chicer and a touch more sympathetic, so while it was in the back of my mind, it never really factored into the way the kids would look.

How was working with Emma Watson? Was she really game for her makeover?

Emma was great! She was game to participate and a really good sport about her makeover. It's hard to remember the exact origins of each detail, but I'm pretty sure it was Emma who decided she needed the tattoo on her hip. We had a lot of fun developing Nicki and I'm glad she was so open to it.

What do you think of the "Steal Her Style"-type pages so many magazines have?

I think style is relative—what looks good on one person doesn't really work on another person. I think people should be encouraged to develop a sense of style as opposed to stealing someone else's. The girl with the best style has a sense of herself, which is usually why it works and why people want to steal her style. But what they really want to steal is her confidence, not her skinny jeans.

Why were the Juicy Couture sweatsuits so important to include onscreen? What do they say about the characters?

I think the Juicy sweatsuit is iconic. It's luxurious, it’s casual, it’s a time capsule of Los Angeles. They were very important to both Sofia and me. I never really thought about what they say, but I know I couldn't imagine the movie without them.

What other brands or items were you sure to include in the movie?

We tried really hard to get the "It" bags of seasons past as well as brands like Free City, Louboutin and Louis Vuitton. We wanted to have all manner of most wanted items, from a luxurious jean to an expensive handbag. It was important to have Balenciaga bags, Chanel bags, Stephen Sprouse bags and Louboutins. We wanted to represent all the coveted items of recent years and I hope we accomplished that.

Where do you look for inspiration in your own life, if not from celebrity style?

It's different for me in every stage, both personally and professionally. Right now I'm working on a remake of Endless Love and have been incredibly inspired by the photographer David Hamilton. For The Bling Ring, I was inspired by US Weekly and lunches at The Ivy. In real life I'm inspired by people. At the moment I'm very inspired by my friend Kelly Taxter. She is a curator and art gallerist. Her dedication to all things beautiful never ceases to pique my own curiosity. She recently curated the most incredible Robert Longo show at the Aldrich in Connecticut.

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