Source: Courtesy of Prime

'Saltburn' Makes a Case for 2000s Fashion

Christopher Ehlers READ TIME: 6 MIN.

Without a doubt, "Saltburn" is the viral movie of the moment. Whereas most corners of the internet are obsessing over that infamous bathtub scene, Jacob Elordi's infinite beauty, or Barry Keoghan's naked dance, others have been keen to focus on the craft of the film: The mesmerizing performances of Elordi, Keoghan, and Rosamund Pike; the ingenious vision of Emerald Fennell; the sumptuous cinematography and production design; and – of course – the costume design of Sophie Canale.

Best known for her work as costume designer of "Bridgerton," Canale's work on "Saltburn" is also making headlines for the way that she's been able to level up the questionable fashions of the mid-2000s, making clothing most of us think of as passé instead seem hip, sexy, and even necessary. Costume dramas and period pieces like "Bridgerton" tend to draw more acclaim for their clothes than works with contemporary costumes, yet it would be wise not to dismiss the costumes in "Saltburn" as merely contemporary; they convey to the viewer so much about who these people are, where they come from, and the world they currently inhabit.

While some might argue that the most alluring moments of "Saltburn" are the ones without any clothes, the wardrobe in this case really does make the movie. In a recent interview with Harper's Bazaar, costume designer Sophie Canale opened up about how she approached the film, the ways that she enhanced characterization through their clothes, and what she thinks about turn-of-the-millennium fashions making a comeback.

"I think clothing is really key to who and how people are," she told Harper's. "We're all part of tribes, even if we don't intend to be. Especially for an age group of university students as we see in this film, you're judged so easily by what you wear, and that was so important here."

In the film, the working-class (and very eager) Oliver Quick, played by Keoghan, enters Oxford on scholarship and he falls in with Felix, played by Elordi, together with the rest of his upper-class friends. Felix sympathizes with Oliver, who is dealing with some family issues, and invites him to spend the summer with him at his family's estate, called Saltburn. Part of Felix's allure, in addition to his incredible wealth, is the fact that he's the most beautiful man at Oxford.

"Felix, the most beautiful man in the world, wears the worst clothes known to man," writer-director Emerald Fennell told GQ. "Because boys like that don't have to dress well."

Indeed, while the students in the film are judged easily by what they wear, the beautiful and wealthy students – like Felix – get away with things that are resolutely unfashionable, donning things like slouchy sweaters, rumpled Oxfords, and ill-fitting jeans. Oliver, on the other hand, tries hard with his clothing – sometimes too hard – to varying success.

Before arriving at Oxford, Oliver makes sure he looks the part. He gets the whole outfit: The blazer, the tie, and the scarf. But when he shows up, the rich kids at Oxford are awash in mid-2000s classics like Uggs, polo shirts with popped collars, and velour tracksuits.

by Christopher Ehlers

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