Having won two Oscars for A Beautiful Mind, and scoring two nominations for Frost/Nixon, Ron Howard knows a thing or two about how to make a biopic. His latest in the genre, Rush, depicts the Formula 1 rivalry between Brit James Hunt and Austrian Niki Lauder over the course of the 1976 racing season — a moment when men were men and women loved them for it. We’ll stop short of predicting its Oscar odds, but we were curious about the clothes, and talked to costume designer Julian Day about how he went about recreating that signature ’70s look.
I’ve seen Chris Hemsworth in the flesh—he’s an enormous man. Is it difficult to make someone with a bodybuilder’s rig look sophisticated in menswear?
Chris lost a lot of the Thor weight and muscle for this role, but he has a great physique for the 70s era—he has a small waist and broad shoulders that fit the period.
Did you make most of the clothing, or source it?
I did both. For our lead actors and actresses, I had the clothing made by Gucci and Ferragamo. For the other cast members and the crowd, I sourced original 1970s clothing from various places including costume houses. Olivia’s wedding dress, though not Gucci, is from a company that reproduces clothing from the 1970s.
How did you show the different personalities of Brit James Hunt and Austrian Niki Lauda through their clothing?
The script defined it quite well in the first place. Gucci was easy to use for Chris and for Olivia, and Ferragamo is subtle and sophisticated, which represented Daniel and Alexandra’s characters.
Is 70s style due a comeback?
There was a bit of a 70s revival a few years ago by Gucci, and there will always be iconic 70s looks that go from season to season (shapes of collars, legs, hemlines). Fashion now gets into so many different eras for each season, but the 1970s are always around in a way.