January 23, 2015
In many ways, “Mortdecai” is a movie about a mustache, but costume watchers won’t be distracted by star Johnny Depp’s hairy upper lip for long. Depp, going for laughs as Lord Charlie Mortdecai, a debonair art dealer and part-time rogue in the manner of Inspector Clouseau, is a movie star mannequin for the perfectly tailored clothes by Costume Designer Ruth Myers.
The combination art heist/crime caper is a spoof of the genre and finds Mortdecai, a bankrupt lord, attempting to recover a stolen painting rumored to contain the code to a lost bank account filled with Nazi gold. “Mortdecai” also stars Gwyneth Paltrow as his wife, Johanna, and Ewan McGregor, Paul Bettany, Olivia Munn and Jeff Goldblum.
Knowing Depp’s deep appreciation for costumes (he keeps an archive of every one), Myers spared no details for the aristocratic character.
“They are exquisite costumes, exquisitely tailored with exquisite accessories,” Myers said. “They are bordering on the eclectic and they have great personality of their own, I hope.”
With more than 18 costume changes, Myers kept the sewing machines busy at Angels The Costumiers in London, especially her go-to tailor Sophie Gurrier (who is working with Myers on her next film, “Tarzan.”)
“He never repeated the same suit. And he would change in the evening into his robe or smoking jacket,” Myers said.
In a scene with Goldblum, Depp wears a cream-colored linen suit with a slub linen vest, custom-tailored shirt and rich silk tie.
“Everything was done so it would look so it was of the finest quality,” Myers said. “He wouldn’t dream of not going to Saville Row. He wouldn’t dream of buying off the peg.”
Yet as a part-time rogue, Mortdecai also is prone to the unexpected.
“There is a nice quirky detail, which is that he has a Swatch watch. [Mortdecai] is very, very much my sensibility. Almost every film I ever do, I very much like to have one thing in there that is a surprise,” she said. Swatch made the limited-edition watch in colors reflective of late 19th-Century French art, such as painter Marc Chagall, Myers said.
Myers also likes to give her actors a costume detail, like a tie pin or a ring, that has resonance for the character.
“I love finding little treasures, even if they don’t show on screen, they make a difference in the performance,” she said. For Depp, Myers found a gold and ivory Victorian moustache comb on a chain.
“He literally, literally went down on his knees and bowed and kissed me,” she said. “He is a divine man.”
“Mortdecai” is now in theaters.