Getting a job in the film industry is no easy fete - similar to that of the fashion industry. But someone who's effortlessly moulded the two to create a stellar career working on some of the biggest movies and with some of the biggest Hollywood names is costume designer, Renee Ehrlich Kalfus.
With 29 feature films under her belt and a Costume Designers Guild award (for her work on 2016's blockbuster, Hidden Figures), Ehrlich Kalfus is now working alongside Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick on new movie, A Simple Favour - you know, the one which inspired Lively to wear seven different power suits in seven days as an ode to her character.
Below, Ehrlich Kalfus reveals how she got to where she is today, how the design process works, and what it's like working with some of the world's most famous faces.
First off, how did you get into your job as a Hollywood costume designer?
I graduated with a BFA in fine arts but started working as a stylist in commercials. I was able to get an interview with director Lasse Hallstrom [What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Chocolat] because a producer recommended me. I put together mood boards and had a very creative interview, after which he hired me. We went on to collaborate on five more movies.
Did you always know you wanted to work in fashion?
My designing started at an early age. My mother would sew some of my clothes for me. I was drawn to colour and texture and fabrics at an early age and really wanted to make those choices, she was a patient collaborator.
How closely do you work with the actors and actresses on set?
Simply put, after reading the script I discuss with the director the tone and style he or she wishes to pursue. I then break down each of the characters and place them in the reality of their part. With research, I create mood boards that show the director and the actors which direction I'm going. I proceed to build a closet for each of the characters and then afterwards start hours of fittings with the actors. During this time, the character comes to life. The costumes inform the actors, as well as the audience, who they are in the film.
Once the costumes are established on film, they are then closely overseen by the set costumer, who is responsible for the care of the costume, its continuity and how it is worn on set. I am on set to establish the costume for the first time.
Regarding A Simple Favour, how was it working with Blake Lively?
Blake Lively is a fabulous collaborator, filled with energy and great ideas. She's a dream to work with and everything looks great on her.
Blake Lively says she doesn’t use a stylist as she loves fashion and dressing herself, was she quite heavily involved in the fashion choices on set?
There was a great deal of collaboration and ease [with Blake]. I believe that in her public appearances she does her own styling, but in movies she works closely with the Costume Designer.
What was it like working with Anna Kendrick?
I think this was the first time Anna Kendrick has played a mum! This led us to Instagram and the mummy bloggers world, which gave us a lot of intel for the character. She had about 60 costume changes that we plowed through and that worked so well for her character.
How did you choose the designers and clothing styles for the film?
For Anna's character, I chose to go the consignment, vintage route. Establishing a DIY style in which I had made to order embellishments to establish the personalised look. For Blake, Ralph Lauren generously allowed me to choose from his archival women's suits and Christian Louboutin gave us stunning shoes for the character.
What’s your favourite look in the movie?
My favourite for Annas’s character is the navy short sleeve pom pom sweater with the lace skirt. For Blake, the white pinstriped double-breasted suit.
A Simple Favour comes out in cinemas nationwide on September 13th, 2018.