Summer blockbusters are known for their explosive action, but in some of this season’s most anticipated films, there’s a lot of fireworks courtesy of the wardrobe department.
From the all-star cast of the super-powered “Suicide Squad” and otherworldly “Alice Through the Looking Glass” to the couture-rich comedies “Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie” and “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping,” theater screens are practically runways this year.
Here’s a look at four of the most eagerly awaited movies of the summer with the strongest costume stories.
“Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping”
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Directed by: Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer
Starring: Andy Samberg, Taccone, Schaffer
Costumes by: Sophie De Rakoff
The Lonely Island crew is taking the outrageous musical sense that propelled them to popularity in their albums and on “Saturday Night Live” to the big screen with this story of a pop star (Samberg) who is a little Justin (Timberlake and Bieber), a little Macklemore and a little Drake – and even a little Katy Perry.
“We looked at fashion in music from the ’90s onward,” De Rakoff says. “I started in music videos in the ’90s in L.A. – the boys and I had a lot of the same references.”
De Rakoff says her costumes riff on hip-hop and boy-band styles, the over-the-top stage wear of contemporary performers (that’s where Perry fits in) and pieces by labels popular in the music industry like Balenciaga, Dior and Diesel in the 120 costumes Samberg wears in the film.
“Everything was done with a certain sense of irony,” De Rakoff says. “It wasn’t about making fun of it, but the film is a comedy.”
Releases June 3
“Alice Through the Looking Glass”
Directed by: James Bobin
Starring: Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Alan Rickman, Helena Bonham Carter, Mia Wasikowska, Sacha Baron Cohen
Costumes by: Colleen Atwood
This sequel to “Alice in Wonderland” falls down the rabbit hole into Lewis Carroll’s reflection world and a high-stakes game of chess. The art for the first film set the surreal scene and in expanding on characters like Alice (Wasikowska), the Mad Hatter and Red and White Queens (Bonham Carter and Hathaway), Atwood looked back to the book’s original John Tenniel illustrations and ahead to Japanese fashion of the ’80s.
“I think everybody nowadays cross-pollinates in the media world that we live in,” Atwood said in an interview released by Disney. “My job is fascinating because I have the opportunity to create new worlds from different times and perspectives.”
For the returning heroine, Atwood used “70 yards of basic blue silk” embroidered to look vintage for Alice’s Chinese-inspired costume in one scene, and disguised pants as dresses for practicality. For the new character of Time (Baron Cohen), Atwood used extreme silhouettes (skinny leather pants, ballooning short capes, ecclesiastically inspired hats) to get the feeling the character is both “pompous and grand.”
Releases May 27.
Directed by: Mandie Fletcher
Starring: Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha, June Whitfield, Jane Horrocks
Costumes by: Rebecca Hale
Sweetie, darling, the two booziest, brashest broads in Britain are back, but this time, they’re leaping off the BBC and onto the big screen. The cult television series that brought Christian Lacroix into the pop culture limelight is bound to be full of extreme designer looks. PR woman Edina Monsoon (Saunders) is one of the most famous fictional fashion victims this side of Cruella De Vil while former fashion editor, model and Bond girl Patsy Stone’s (Lumley) beehive hairdo has become a favorite for drag queen imitators.
“I wanted to reference the ’90s a lot because that was the birth of ‘Ab Fab,’” Hale says. “We looked at a lot of power dressing from that era. It’s like Jennifer saw the future with the show because now everyone really is obsessed with themselves and doing their own PR on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.”
Although there’s no Lacroix in the film, Hale names Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, Giles Deacon and Stella McCartney as important designers for the ladies’ fashion stories.
“It had to feel very English,” Hale says. “In the end, the most important thing with the costumes is they have to serve the character, and they’ve got to be funny.”
Releases July 22.
Directed by: David Ayer
Starring: Margot Robbie, Will Smith, Cara Delevingne, Jared Leto, Viola Davis
Costumes by: Kate Hawley
This Justice League of DC Comics bad guys doesn’t hesitate to break the laws of fashion.
When federal agent Amanda Waller (Davis) puts together a secret team of the “worst of the worst,” she finds some of the most extreme costumed comic book characters to hit the screen since the Joel Schumacher “Batman” films. Among the many villains included are the tactical-chic Deadshot (Smith), runway goth Enchantress (Delevingne), the first cinematic depiction of fan favorite (and the Joker’s girlfriend) Harley Quinn (Robbie) and the debut of Leto’s haute hipster take on Mr. J himself.
With a costuming scheme more influenced by high street fashion than interested in recreating their comic book counterparts, the overall look of the film is more punk rock than Cartoon Network.
Releases August 5.