JAMIE DORNAN stars as billionaire entrepreneur Christian Grey in the phenomenon Fifty Shades of Grey. Credit: Chuck Zlotnick / Universal Pictures and Focus Features.

DAKOTA JOHNSON stars as curious college student Anastasia Steele in the phenomenon Fifty Shades of Grey. Credit: Universal Pictures and Focus Features.

“Fifty Shades of Grey”

February 13, 2015

Valli Herman

The movie version of E.L. James’ “Fifty Shades of Grey” bestseller has stirred up new respect for the versatility of neckties and the color gray.

Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson, the film stars Dakota Johnson as student Anastasia Steele and Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey, the 27-year-old billionaire who, in no time, introduces Ana and mainstream movie audiences to the kinky pleasures of BDSM. And the alternate uses of neckties.

But it’s not all handcuffs and blindfolds. The movie trailer opens on Grey’s backlit walk-in closet, where bespoke suits are arranged to OCD perfection, then cuts to Ana’s cluttered, colorful closet.

The first task for Costume Designer Mark Bridges: amplify the characters’ personalities, and their differences–but make them compatible.

“He’s the fabulous Christian Grey. She’s a gawky college student,” he said. When Ana interviews Grey at his sleek office, she looks nothing like the sleek glamazons who populate Grey’s headquarters.

“All the language of her first outfit is childlike. She wears a toggle coat, which always makes me think of kids waiting for the school bus. She’s also wearing tights and heavy-footed boots and a floral, Liberty of London print blouse, which is so not cool. And it all feels as if it could be on a first grader and wouldn’t look odd–just a miniature version of it. But when it is on a grown woman like Dakota, it’s not subtle,” Bridges said. “It makes it fun story telling.”

Of course, with a film title like “Fifty Shades of Grey,” Bridges had to decide whether to embrace the obvious choice of color palettes. He went with the gray.

“I think it’s right–it’s Christian Grey and that’s the title, so, duh, I think I’m going to take the ball and run with it! Gray is a great color, it’s sort of enigmatic and mysterious and a little camouflagey and businesslike. Gray does so much for being almost a non-color,” Bridges said.

The near-uniformity of the palette didn’t stop Bridges from injecting his brand of storytelling. As Grey evolves, his look is less of an intimidating titan.

“He sort of goes from beautiful Italian suiting and leather jackets, and as he is softening, he goes to cashmeres. I used a lot of thin cashmere T-shirts and cashmere sweatpants at home,” he said.
Bridges also lets color tell the story of Ana’s maturation. But–spoiler alert–as Ana grows into womanhood, she sheds the ditsy florals — and a whole lot more.

“Fifty Shades of Grey” is now in theaters.


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