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11 Sep

How Showtime’s ‘American Gigolo’ Pays Homage to Armani With

When tasked with creating the costumes for Showtime’s latest thriller series, “American Gigolo,” costume designer Stephani Lewis began her research process by taking a look at the unique 1980 movie to create a wardrobe that in equal parts referenced the classic film, while also bringing the character of Julian Kaye to the current day. 

“I just began collaborating with [series stars] Jon [Bernthal] and Gretchen [Mol] and the remaining of the solid to create latest and authentic characters for the series that…still had a bit little bit of a nod or an homage to a few of the designs of the unique film,” she said. “We didn’t necessarily attempt to copy anything from that [film], but there are sometimes once we wanted to offer hints of scenes that happened in the unique.” 

The unique “American Gigolo” film from 1980 starred Richard Gere as Kaye, whose character was dressed throughout the movie famously by Giorgio Armani. The film helped give Armani a significant boost in his profession and make him a global name, as he had a comparatively low profile outside of Italy at the moment. Armani’s “American Gigolo” suits were a shift away from traditional men’s suits on the time, forgoing padding and traditional blue and black colours for linen fabrics, softer colours and more casual silhouettes.

Interest in Armani’s suits grew quickly after the discharge of the film, helping him land his designs in Barneys Recent York and establish himself in Hollywood. After “American Gigolo,” Armani went on to design costumes for movies like “Shaft” and “The Untouchables.” 

While Armani was not involved within the Showtime “American Gigolo” series — which debuts latest episodes on Fridays — Lewis desired to reference the designer’s work in her own subtle ways.

The references to Armani’s suits are seen in the course of the show’s flashback scenes. “American Gigolo” is told through two storylines: one in 2006 when Kaye is working as a male escort, and one in the current day after he was released from prison after 15 years after being wrongfully convicted of a murder. 

Jon Bernthal as Julian Kaye and Leigh Taylor-Young as Gail St. John in “American Gigolo.” 

Justin Lubin/SHOWTIME

Lewis dressed Bernthal in an array of suits in the course of the flashback sequences, which mirrored the character’s opulent lifestyle and carefree spirit, after which shifted to more casual, uniform looks when he’s released from prison and searching to get his life back together. 

“Pre-prison, we had numerous more showy things,” she said. “We used velvets and satin, more colours in his blazers and he was thoroughly tailored. After which post-prison, it was way more of an informal style. I believe post-prison we only had one look that was dressed up and it was a way more subdued blazer, shirt and slacks. It was not flaunting any form of money or attention or attempting to get any attention. He’s flying way more under the radar post-prison.” 

Lewis also explained that since the series takes place over a brief time frame in the current day, Bernthal didn’t have many costume changes. She desired to keep his present-day uniform to reflect his journey post-prison, as he’s attempting to fix his strained relationships together with his mother and former girlfriend and likewise determine who framed him. 

“Post-prison, he’s a bit bit more gritty and all the way down to earth,” she explained. “But, he’s in rebuilding mode and he’s on this journey to determine where he’s going and what he’s going to do, what’s real from the past and what’s real in the current. The excellence between what you’ll see him wearing within the flashbacks in 2006 to what he wears in the current will help tell that story of the difference in who he was pre-prison and post-prison.” 

Other than Bernthal’s character, Lewis said she also enjoyed making a tech billionaire-inspired wardrobe for Mol’s character Michelle Stratton and helping create the character for Lizzie Brocheré’s Isabelle, who’s a latest addition within the Showtime series. 

“It was such a fun show to costume,” Lewis said. “Lizzie who plays Isabelle, she has so many great costumes and she or he was just sort of a blank slate because the character didn’t exist within the movie. We were capable of create what we wanted her to be and be fun, playful and powerful. We were capable of play with numerous shapes and silhouettes that were sexy, but in addition made her feel strong.” 

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