Lovelace's Costume Designer On How To Dress A Porn Star
Remember when Amanda Seyfried got her big break as the promiscuous and clueless Karen in Mean Girls? You know, the girl who could fit her whole fist in her mouth? Well, turns out that skill would come in handy later for Seyfried’s new role as Linda Lovelace, the star of Deep Throat and the most famous porn star of the 1970s. When most people reflect on the hippie decade, tacky prints, peace signs and awful hair come to mind but Karyn Wagner, the costume designer for Lovelace (out tomorrow, August 9), assures us that you will see none of that in this film. “I remember the '70s as being lovely fashion-wise,” said Wagner. “Not the sort of garish things we think of now.”
The movie shows a side of Linda Lovelace (born Linda Susan Boreman) that the world never knew. While many saw her as a sexual-boundary-breaking goddess, behind the camera she was an exploited young woman forced into pornography by her husband Chuck Traynor. Because of her controlling and abusive spouse, Lovelace had trouble discovering her own identity. “I don’t know that she ever had the self confidence to ever really hit a style of her own,” said Wagner of Lovelace’s personal fashion sense. “You can see in the years that she’s with Chuck Traynor how every instinct of her own is overridden.” This gave Wagner an opportunity to create her own look for Lovelace. “I sort of created a style for her in her personal moments, when she was sort of left on her own. It was a lot more earthy than what Chuck would have her wear.”
Despite not being a real-life fashionista, Lovelace did have some memorable outfits, which Wagner recreated for Seyfried. “Most of Linda’s pieces I did make. The white dress at the Playboy Mansion, the bathing suit for the photo shoot, most of the clothes in the recreation of Deep Throat—those things were all made because they were so iconic and I wanted to get them right. Also, the actual pieces from the period were not necessarily the most attractive things in the world, so I remade them. I sort of put them through the Karyn Wagner rose-colored-glasses filter.”
Perhaps the most memorable look is Lovelace’s red dress (pictured above). Wagner explained that she usually stays away from the color because of what it says between the lines, but in this case it serves as a perfect representation of Lovelace and her life. "I’m very careful about using red in movies. I almost never do because it says so much to the audience subtextually that it can become distracting. But in this case, it felt very appropriate because she was this sort of haunted element, and at the same time a huge star and at the same time this unreachable person.” Wagner also said that Seyfried was a little hesitant at first about her porn star wardrobe, but after a while she was able to spot a Lovelace outfit from afar. "As we started to get into it, she [Seyfried] found her character on the rolling racks and that always makes me so happy. She was like, ‘These pants are Linda! That’s it, I get it now.’” One of Seyfried’s favorite outfits? A go-go outfit featuring a pair of leather pants. “She responded to everything favorably,” said Wagner.
Juno Temple, James Franco (who plays iconic Playboy founder Hugh Hefner) and style star Chloë Sevigny also appear in the film. According to Wagner, both Temple and Sevigny were very collaborative with their characters’ outfits—and Franco, too, was game for anything. “I made something that was very iconically Hugh and he [Franco] took one look at it and said, ‘Love it! Great!’ and that was the end of that conversation.”
Click through the slideshow above to check out some of Wagner's favorite '70s-era style staples. And don't forget to catch Lovelace, in theaters tomorrow!