Mark Bridges, costume designer for Paul Thomas Anderson’s award-winning ’70s Licorice Pizza. The film, which stars Alana Haim as Alana Kane and Cooper Hoffman as Gary Valentine (with Bradley Cooper and Sean Penn in supporting roles) is popular. Pop in the apparel industry thanks to cool easy ’70s pieces that aren’t at all like clothes but like the perfect vintage finds. For the film, which was released slowly over the winter and expanded on February 11, Anderson tapped Mark Bridges, who had costume designer for each PTA movie. Bridges, a four-time Academy Award nominee and two-time winner, says it’s especially exciting to do something as nostalgic as “Licorice Pizza” in this current time of the world.
“It’s a great antidote right now to all that’s going on and whatever stress we’re feeling. And Paul was smart to somehow see that at the right time,” Bridges said over a Zoom call. “It’s not something heavy like ‘There will be Blood.’ We’re running down the street with Gary and Alana, and they’re having a great time. And I think that’s part of its charm and success, that’s for sure. ”
Below, WWD chats with Bridges about the project.
WWD: You obviously worked with Paul a lot. What was the initial conversation you had with him about this movie?
Mark the bridges: Funny enough, I was working on “News of the World” with Tom Hanks, and I met Gary Goetzman, who was a producer on Tom. And then I found out from Paul that it was someone he was loosely leaning on [the character of Gary Valentine] above. I thought, “That’s very strange.” I didn’t even know they were friends. I got the script, and then started looking at some of Gary’s family photos, and was just looking to illustrate some of these interesting characters. And we were always going back and forth at his studio, where we would listen to music, and he would call me and say, “Watch Turner Classic Movies right now. Because that’s what we need to see.” And for better or for worse, I’m usually ready to be able to do just that. And then I figured out what kind of movie we were making.
WWD: EASYid do you have a lot of vintage items? Do you have custom things made?
MB: About half and a half I think. We did it in the summer of 2020, so of course, people are still learning their way about COVID[-19]. No supplier or manufacturer. It got really difficult. Luckily, here in Los Angeles, we have a ton of rentals, thank goodness we stock all these clothes from different periods. So you can go to the women’s part of the 1970s and pass. You literally have to go through thousands of clothes trying to gather what will fit your picture. And a lot of times, things didn’t really exist. It’s a great, cool shape, but it has a big blur on the bottom of the sleeve. Or jeans or trousers are especially hard to wash because they’ve been washed for 50 or 60 years. And so you have to copy and redo. And then you’re looking for fabric, which I love to do.
We have also dealt with some vintage dealers. We say what we want, they send us a big box of stuff we can go through, and then send back what we don’t need to keep. You try to get everything from everywhere. I’ve got a great cutter, Margarita Kalend. She made swimsuits, polka dot swimsuits [Alana] go round. That two-piece, Margarita transformed it from a classic maxidress into that two-piece. She made the skort white in the beginning. I will not find a white leather shoe suitable for this young lady. We have to make it. You won’t find a polka dot bikini because it’s like a joke. Teenage polka dot bed sheet, you have to do this.
WWD: Is there a particular historical figure, celebrity, designer or someone that you have emulated Alana’s style?
MB: Well, you look at a character and think, “Seriously, where are they going to shop? Where do they have their clothes? And it always comes back to the mall. I’m back with King of Chess and Lerner. And of course, coming from a family with two sisters, you imagine they could trade in clothes or wear each other’s clothes. And then you go from there. But then you also think about their economic status. Sears Directory, Montgomery Ward. They weren’t too rich, so the average person’s accessibility to period clothing was normal. And of course, for me, they have to look interesting. I always talk about the extraordinary casual clothes that I try to make. Going back to the old Hollywood philosophy of movie costume was, “if they can get it at their local store, it’s not extraordinary enough.” So I try to get people involved a little bit or do something, which is also very specific to that moment.
WWD: That reminds me of the tagline t-shirt she wears.
MB: It’s a tobacco slogan. Paul asked for a t-shirt with some writing on it. And he sent me one, which said something like, “I’ll try anything for once.” So we made one of them. We already have legal papers with that. And then I also thought, “Okay, what could be from that period?” And I remember those cigarette ads, that tagline, were around for a while. I looked on eBay to see if they had any actual garments like that. And they did, but we couldn’t get the legal papers. So my closet custodian and I made the lettering, erased it, screened the silk, the size of the thing, and put it on a vintage t-shirt. And that was just in response to Paul’s request for a T-shirt with the words printed on it. And he loves it because you can’t really read it. You can’t take your eyes off Alana. And then who knew it would become such an iconic work. I thought it was fun when it happened and purely because I was trying to accommodate Paul’s request.
WWD: Was it the work that got the most attention, in your opinion?
MB: Someone told me there’s a vendor on eBay or Etsy, or I’m not sure where it is, there’s a lot of it. And after the movie hit theaters, he sold out. So I would say, probably yes. I get a lot of comments about her little brown dress, with the long sleeves, that she wears it beautifully. I mean, that’s also the point where a skirt lengthens.
WWD: What was it like working with Alana?
MB: For our first try on, I went to her apartment to try on the camera. And we beat it in no time. She is a very approachable, funny, very cool person. And in fact, some of the first things that we got on that first assembly actually became the final product. But she is very open to everything. She knows my history with Paul. And she loves Paul. There’s a lot of trust, and I feel very protective of her because I know this is her first movie. I know Paul appreciates her ability for this film very much. And I just want to be right with all of them. I definitely take a stand in her defense to make sure she’s good. Just like with Cooper. I’ve known Cooper since he was very, very young. So that’s also kind of interesting.
WWD: Speaking of Cooper, let’s talk a little bit about the white suit he wears with a pink shirt underneath.
MB: We found that at a rental, but it actually still has its tag on it. And the label inside belongs to a little-known store in the Valley. So I know it’s gold. I know it’s just gold. The reason is there, if I remember correctly, I think Paul wanted it to be like Gary’s “Casino” moment where he was opening his pinball place and wanted that image of Robert De Niro in ” Casino”. It was another piece that also received a lot of comments because he wore it so well. And it’s also an interesting piece of work. The fabric, the stitching, the shape of everything, it fit the moment.”
WWD: Did Alana’s background as a musician affect the way she dresses or presents her costumes for the camera?
MB: I think about how she fell in love with the ’70s, I think she told me she and her sisters love the ’70s. And it was clear during our first fitting that that’s true. is her era. Just her appearance, her figure was really right at that time. So if anything, it may have helped her that she loves her period and feels comfortable in those fabrics and shapes. And have been familiar with them since her music school days.
WWD: The whole look of the suit is like something people might wear right now in New York or LA, which connects to what you said about “extraordinary normalcy.” How do you consciously get there?
MB: Thank you. That’s what we’ve always tried to do with Paul: We try to tell a story with the clothes, but never really get sucked into it, so to speak. You don’t want to distract people with those clothes. You want them to step out and hum the story, not get dressed. But later you might think back and think, “Okay, that’s cute.” Or, “It added to my experience.” Just let them laugh.
https://wwd.com/eye/lifestyle/licorice-pizza-costumes-mark-bridges-1235062615/ Costume Designer ‘Licorice Pizza’ on Alana Haim’s Vintage Look, eBay Duplicates – WWD