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Fashion killer: House of Gucci’s costume designer talks dressing Lady Gaga

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Fashion killer: House of Gucci’s costume designer talks dressing Lady Gaga

Janty Yates talks about working together with the long-awaited movie, as it finally arrives in cinemas. ‘LG’This is a clear departure from Dynasty-era Joan Collins. Gucci archives

From the moment the slowed-down, spaced-out strains of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass”Lady Gaga stood up and crossed her chest. “Father, Son, and House of Gucci”In the teaser trailer for the film, we knew we had a high camp. fashionWe have a classic on our hands. The movie finally released this week after a long wait. With scripts passed pillar to post around Hollywood’s biggest players for the best part of five years, and everyone from Penélope Cruz, to Angelina Jolie, to Margot Robbie rumoured to be in the running to play notorious fashion killer Patrizia Gucci, news broke in early 2021 that Gaga had secured the role – and more importantly, the opportunity to really ham up her oft-mentioned, meme-worthy Italianness. 

What followed was a frenzy of pap shots capturing Gaga and on-screen lover Adam Driver – cast in the role of ill-fated Gucci heir Maurizio – in various locations; cosying up to each other in a skiing scene in the Alps, or otherwise being chauffeured from their winnebagos to the set under enormous umbrellas. Naturally, attention quickly turned to House of Gucci’s costumes, with countless publications – including a little mag you might know as Dazed – picking apart the sartorial side of the early BTS photographs like hyenas ripping meat from a carcass. You can see the double-G emblem, power shoulders, and luxe velvet suits. House of Gucci promised a feast to the eyes.

With Sir Ridley Scott in the director’s seat of the movie, it made sense that he turned to longtime, trusted collaborator Janty Yates when it came to the clothes. With costumes for the cast of Gladiator, Hannibal, and Alien offshoots Prometheus and Covenant – which she worked with London wunderkind Craig Green on – under her belt, House of Gucci saw her let loose in the Italian house’s archives and given free reign to pull as many looks as she liked for ‘LG’Lady Gaga (as she affectionately refers) and the rest, including Jared Leto, Al Pacino and Driver. 

Yates was able to tell the story of murder and deceit over three decades, starting in 1970 with the disco days, and ending in the early 1990s. “really go wild”. As well as rare Gucci looks dug up from the house’s back catalogue, she also pulled from major labels including Alaïa, Valentino, and Saint Laurent. Though there’s an endless stream of excellent fashions on show throughout, Yates’ only regret is that more looks didn’t make it into the final cut. “There was a scene where LG and Al Pacino were dancing at Studio 54 and she’s in a stunning turquoise halterneck dress that was cut,”She recalls. “It was in the trailer, so I don’t understand why it’s not in the film! But you know, Ridley knows what he wants to keep and what he wants to cut, so I’m sure there was a good reason.” 

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Yates shares his thoughts on collaborating with Gucci as House of Gucci is released today ‘LG’Drawing inspiration from Gina Lollobrigida rather than Joan Collins and running riot in the Gucci archives.

Lady Gaga house of Gucci costumes by Janty YatesCourtesy MGM

Janty! You’ve long collaborated with Ridley Scott on costumes for his films. How did you feel when Ridley Scott asked you to help bring this story to life? 

Janty Yates Well actually, it was Lady Scott, his wife, who had been sitting on the story for about 20 years, and every time I’d hear them talking about it I’d say ‘Don’Don’t forget about me! Don’t forget about me!’ – you know, throwing my hat in the ring and making it known I wanted to do it. It was a long process that took many turns. It went to Wong Kar–wai, it returned back to Ridley. I believe Martin Scorcese was also in the mix at one point. It was something I had never imagined Ridley would do. It wasn’t until COVID really hit that we got round to doing it, and I actually started doing my research and development during the first lockdown. 

You’ve stated that the wardrobe of Gina Lollobrigida was a big influence when it came to Patrizia’s costumes. What was it that inspired you about her style? 

Janty Yates It was more Sir Ridley who loved Gina’s look, and he kept bringing her up throughout the initial process. We tried to tell Ridley that she was from the 1960s but we actually got a few ideas. Ridley’s whole concern was that he wanted her to be more Gina Lollobrigida than Joan Collins from Dynasty, who had those huge blouses with enormous shoulders, and huge amounts of jewels dripping off her. We wanted to steer clear of that and be more classic. I was kind of nervous to broach this with LG on Zoom on the first day, but she was actually on the same page – she said ‘I want to look exactly like my mother’Her mother is a fully-fledged Italian lady. She was very supportive from the beginning.

“I was kind of nervous to broach this with Lady Gaga on Zoom on the first day, but she was actually on the same page – she said ‘I want to look exactly like my mother’, and her mother is a full-blown Italian lady” – Janty Yates

Was it a collaborative process with Lady Gaga? Was it quite a collaborative process? 

Janty Yates She is a wonderful collaborator, and she was so amazing all the way. MGM allowed me to start my cutter earlier than I expected, and their head of production knew how important it is that we were prepared. LG loved everything, so we had lots of pieces and shapes prepared for the first fitting. We made around 50–60 looks for her in total in the end. 

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The movie starts in the mid-1970s, and continues through the 80s and into the 90s. Can you talk me through Patrizia’s style evolution? 

Janty Yates She had a very clear arc. We started her off very sweet, maybe even a bit naive, in little cashmere twinsets and skirts, and a very iconic Burberry trench with the check on the outside – which I didn’t even know existed, but LG told me it did so we found one. It was a miracle! And then there was the dress she wore, for example, when she drives up in her little car and walks across the forecourt of her father’s trucking company where she works. Her bum wiggles, and her high heels clack on the tarmac, and she knows exactly what she’s doing to those men, they all love her. But it’s still all very innocent. 

She then sets her sights on Maurizio, and her style changes dramatically. We used everything, from mock Chanel to Gucci archive to vintage Yves Saint Laurent. We used everything. 

Then the arc begins its descent when she’s run over and ends up in hospital with a brain clot, and she’s given up on Maurizio. She turns into quite an aggressive woman, really, and gives up caring about what she wears – she’s in jeans and leather jackets, which came as quite a shock to me actually when I was researching her style. 

Pin ItLady Gaga house of Gucci costumes by Janty YatesCourtesy MGM

Craig Green worked with you on the costumes Alien: Covenant, so I’m wondering if, alongside the big designers you pulled for House of GucciInclude any pieces by cult or young designers? 

Janty Yates My cutter was making such stunning outfits that I didn’t even need to search for someone new. We had so much already that we weren’t even spoiled for choice. Actually, I found this website while I was preparing for a film called Merlin for Disney. designerCalled A Sai Ta (of Asai). I met him on Brick Lane. We had a long chat and he was going make the costumes for all the little gelfling things. It was put on hold but we were able to bond and I love his work. I couldn’t fit anything of his into House of Gucci, though. 

You were allowed access to the Gucci archives before filming. Did you search for something specific or wait to see what happened? 

Janty Yates The archive was actually quite small and was located in a room above the museum, where I became a regular visitor. There were about 15–20 outfits we took, and we borrowed a lot of bags. They were all kept in the strong room that we used on set. We ended up using two Gucci looks in the film – one of which was a double-G tunic worn with matching trousers that LG wears when she’s on 42nd Street and finds all the fakes being sold. She’s wearing a mink on top of course. And then there’s the double-G silk blouse in tans and browns with the leather skirt she wears when she’s at her daughter’s sports day. We really were spoiled for choice between the various archives and my cutter’s magnificent work, which I think makes up about 60 per cent of the film. 

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“Ridley’s whole concern was that he wanted (Patrizia) to be more Gina Lollobrigida than Joan Collins from Dynasty, who had those huge blouses with enormous shoulders, and huge amounts of jewels dripping off her. We wanted to veer away from that and go more classic” – Janty Yates

Do you have a favorite look or one that sums up everything? 

Janty Yates Her bridal gown would be my choice. LG looked so young and beautiful, and also very innocent and naive. The gown was made by hand and took between eight and ten months to complete. We had photographs of Patrizia at her wedding and made a replica. We didn’t decide until the morning we were shooting the wedding scene which one we were going to use. LG put both of them on, but in the end the more OTT one won – it was just overwhelmingly beautiful. 

Creatives are obviously notorious for being hard on themselves, so I’m wondering if there was anything you wished you’d done differently when you saw the final film? 

Janty Yates Oh no! The final result was amazing (laughs). I only wish there were more looks! For example, there was a scene where LG and Al Pacino were dancing at Studio 54 and she’s in a stunning turquoise halterneck dress that was cut. It was in the trailer, so I really don’t understand why it’s not in the film! But you know, Ridley knows what he wants to keep and what he wants to cut, so I’m sure there was a good reason. 

I mean, he loves an extended edit, so maybe we’ll eventually get to see it…

Janty Yates Oh!, I think it might make the director’s cut someday. Here’s hoping anyway!

Pin ItLady Gaga house of Gucci costumes by Janty YatesCourtesy MGM
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