INTERVIEW: PAULA THOMAS
TALL, TANNED, YOUNG AND NOT-SO-LOVELY...CAMERON DIAZ’S FEMME FATALE CHARACTER IN RIDLEY SCOTT’S THE COUNSELOR DEMANDS A MATCHING “KILLA” WARDROBE. CREATIVE DIRECTOR AT THOMAS WYLDE, PAULA THOMAS, JUMPED TO THE MISSION, WITH SCISSORS IN HANDS AND A LOT OF HOLLYWOOD FLAIRE, CREATING SOME OF THE MOST ICONC LOOKS IN THE HISTORY OF MODERN CINEMA.
TELL US MORE ABOUT WORKING WITH RIDLEY SCOTT AND CAMERON DIAZ. HOW DID THE COLLABORATION COME ALONG?
I think Ridley called me for this project because he has been a fan of my brand for quite some time, but I also think he felt completely sure I could deliver the feel and looks he needed for Cameron’s character Malkina to come to life. When you look back on the masterful work of Ridley Scott it says it all: from Blade Runnerto Alien, Gladiator to Black Hawk Down – I was so very honored to be even considered for the job. Also, when you think of the other designers he has collaborated with in the past like Armani and Gucci, what can I say? One more incentive would be the fact I had to dress Cameron Diaz – not a difficult job!
HOW DID YOU TRANSFER CAMERON’S ON-SCREEN PERSONA INTO YOUR DESIGNS? WHAT INSPIRED YOU IN HER CHARACTER?
Cameron plays a very different character to what you are used to seeing her as. Malkina is dark and twisted – a woman like this is really hard to imagine even exists, though you wish she did: strong, powerful and fully in control of her world. Cameron describes her clothing as a cloak for her to truly hide the dark, soulless side and I agree; she uses her wardrobe almost as a distraction so she can manipulate behind the scenes of her world and how she sees it! Her sexuality comes forth and again she uses this tool to her advantage. Each wardrobe change she has fully reflects what
she is creating in that scene and this is where Ridley comes into play as well. He is a master of details, even down to her haircut, which tells a little more about who she is. He wanted Malkina to make a statement in this film and he used the clothing as one piece to the puzzle of who Malkina became in the end.
When Cameron came into the studio, we worked a lot with archived pieces that for some reason just seemed to work for her character. For example, the red leopard spotted mini dress she wears in the Ferrari scene was from my Cuba Libra collection. There are bullet holes shot through the leopard spots and we just thought “wow how perfect!” I mean, bear in mind Malkina has two cheetahs as pets.
And there was this wonderful grey suiting piece with studded shoulders from the War of Warriors collection again that just fit right into place for her last scene in the movie.
HOW WOULD YOU SPOT THOMAS WYLDE’S SIGNATURE STYLE IN THESE DESIGNS?
It would be easy to spot the signature of Thomas Wylde in the film as each look is very distinctive as is the character; Malkina likes to stand out and is bold with her choices, print is the first thing that springs to mind. Thomas Wylde is famous for its unique prints and you will see a lot of my prints being used in the movie.
WHAT ARE THE JOYS AND CHALLENGES YOU CAME ACROSS IN CREATING TAILOR-MADE CUSTOMS FOR A FILM RATHER THAN DESIGNING A SEASONAL COLLECTION FOR THOMAS WYLDE?
I have to be honest, the process of designing for Cameron’s character was very organic and I did not face too many challenges. Cameron is amazing to dress anyways so that helped a lot, but Malkina is such a powerful sexy character that I fully enjoyed dressing throughout the process.
I PARTICULARLY LOVE THE OFF-ONE-SHOULDER SILK KAFTANS WITH BULLET PRINTS. DID IT EVER OCCUR TO YOU THEY WOULD BECOME ICONIC MOVIE LOOKS, ALONGSIDE AUDREY HEPBURN’S LITTLE BLACK DRESS IN BREAKFAST AT
TIFFANY’S OR JENNIFER BEALE’S COLLARLESS SWEATSHIRTS IN FLASHDANCE?
Wow, you flatter me with your reference, but I love the idea that these images and this character will stand the test of time and I had a hand in that. There is the yellow Ferrari scene that is quite memorable in many ways.
WHAT IS YOUR EARLIEST FASHION MOMENT IN A MOVIE?
What really stuck with me as far as fashion in movies was Michelle Pfeiffer coming down in the elevator in Scarface - amazing!!
INTERVIEWED BY PETER SPEETJENS