Sean Penn as Cheyenne in "This Must Be the Place"

“This Must Be the Place”

Nov. 9, 2012

When it came time to cast Cheyenne, a bizarre, stolid 50-year-old former drug addict and lead singer of an iconic rock band, “This Must Be the Place” writer-director Paolo Sorrentino didn’t hold an open call. He wrote the part for actor Sean Penn, who signed on immediately. Initial design meetings were equally seamless. According to Costume Designer Karen Patch, “[Penn] and [Sorrentino] were on board from the start and at [the] first fittings, everything was decided upon—including hair and makeup.”

Though the initial vision for Cheyenne was smooth, capturing the complexity of the character was not a simple task. The dark comedy follows the former rocker as he resurfaces after 25 years in relative seclusion in Ireland, road tripping across the U.S. to avenge his long-estranged father’s death. Despite grappling with family tragedy, depression, and midlife crisis, Cheyenne maintains an amusing child-like quality. To highlight Cheyenne’s eccentric persona and unwillingness to let go of the past, Patch pulled much of her inspiration from photos of 80s rocker Robert Smith, lead singer of The Cure. “The choice of style, color, fabric and the way [Cheyenne’s] costume is worn identify a place and time and help tell his story,” Patch says. “The challenge for me was to keep the humor in his look and to find a simple beauty.”

Cheyenne continues to wear the costume of his youth throughout the film, almost solely wearing black. Patch worked with Chrome Hearts (a brand made popular in the 80s) to obtain a number of pieces from their archival collection, which is housed in New York. She then added subtle details—for example, Patch added the faux fur trim to the black hooded sweatshirt from Chrome Hearts and took in the legs on the black cargo pants to better represent the era and to make the look more whimsical. The lace-up military-style boots Cheyenne wears are from Doc Marten while Patch found other pieces, such as a calf-length overcoat, at a “Goth store” in London. In addition to the clothing, Patch’s jewelry selection really stands out. From a skull ring that she found at Kieselstein in New York, to silver and black box-chain necklaces and a dangling noose pendant earring (decorating Cheyenne’s left ear)—these little details only help to reinforce the character’s inability to break from his long-gone glory days.

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