fashion

The story behind Emma Stone's La La Land wardrobe.

Since its release late last year, La La Land has given us plenty of fodder for conversation.

For weeks now, we’ve been feverishly discussing the merits of its ending; its record-breaking sweep at the Golden Globe Awards; and Ryan Gosling, period.

But there’s another aspect of Damien Chazelle’s ‘modern musical’ that deserves some airtime, and that’s Emma Stone (a.k.a. Mia)’s jaw-dropping on-screen wardrobe.

Now THAT is how you make an entrance. Image: Summit Entertainment

It was a visual smorgasbord of flippy skirts, colourful dresses, and classic lines that almost upstaged the dancing.

In fact, when I saw La La Land with a few friends, one of the first things that came out of my mouth as we left the cinema was, "I NEED that green dress. And the blue one."

The film's costume designer, Mary Zophres, has since revealed the inspiration and thinking behind Mia's retro-inspired outfits.

The green dress was designed to look vintage. (Image: Summit Entertainment)
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For one thing, she wanted audience members to walk out thinking they might be able to get their hands on it.

“We did have to make these dresses, but I didn’t want to make them fancy. The green dress, for instance, we made it, but in my mind, I’m like, ‘Okay, she could’ve bought it in a vintage store'," Zophres tells Entertainment Weekly.

"Or her first blue dress, to me, looks like maybe it’s from H&M or the dress department in Bloomingdale’s."

The yellow dress was inspired by one Emma had worn on a red carpet.

Speaking of H&M, Stone did in fact wear a US$5 shirt from the retailer, because the costume designer wanted to ensure her character "dressed in her normal life" too.

As for that now-famous yellow dress — the one Mia wears in the dance scene in the Hollywood Hills — it was inspired by the canary-hued Atelier Versace gown Stone wore to a The Amazing Spider-Man red carpet event in 2014.

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"It's stunning on Emma and I pitched [that color] to Damien for that sequence," Zophres explains to Fashionista.

Image: Summit Entertainment

"We had our first fitting and Emma started spinning around in this dress. She loved it. I loved it."

Generally speaking, Zophres opted to err on the side of classic rather than 'trendy' to ensure the movie wouldn't date beyond 2016.

"Like if you look at it, it looks more timeless than anything — so that’s what I was going for: timeless as opposed to too vintage looking or too 2016," she tells EW.

Image: Summit Entertainment
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“Going to real stores and mixing it with things that we bought or that we could have conceivably bought but we made instead was how I tried to infuse it with a modern sensibility… bringing in things that were really from Los Angeles in 2016.”

If you watched closely, you might have also noticed Mia's dresses became gradually more voluminous as the film progressed. As you've probably guessed, this was no accident.

“When she was spinning or dancing, you got a more effect of like a period film, but I tried to balance reality,” Zophres says.

Image: Summit Entertainment

“I also didn’t want to overdesign it, and [Stone] actually looks better in things that are simple.”

Trends come and go, but there's much to be said for a more classic, simple approach to fashion.

One look at Emma Stone in La La Land will convince anybody of that.

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