“A Star Is Born” costume designer Erin Benach‘s focus was on creating “a character arc” for Ally (Lady Gaga), a down-on-her-luck waitress who becomes a singing sensation after she’s discovered by fading rock star Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper). Watch our exclusive video interview with Benach above.
Before she started work the veteran designer had to decide “where I wanted her to start, where I saw her at the pinnacle … and where I wanted her to end.” With that in mind, “I kept pinpointing” those ideas “in the storyline,” making sure to “hit them as far as her clothing went.”
When she first connects with Jackson, Ally is “traveling on the road,” so “she must be thrifting along the way,” matching the “western” theme of her new boyfriend’s crowd. As she becomes more of a pop star, “some stylist must be bringing her some pieces, and they’re more outrages pieces.” It all culminates in “the elegant end” after she’s “honed in” on her look.
Benach admits she was intimidated by the challenge of designing for Gaga, a style icon in her own right. But ultimately “it was the same process … that I’ve done with other actors in the past.” The difference in this case was the “fun” she had “being able to connect with Stefani [Gaga] on a fashion level,” including “joking around about clubs in New York City in the late ’90s or early ’00s,” which were good for a laugh.
When it came to dressing Cooper, the process was “surprisingly streamlined” considering he was also directing. “It’s just one less person to get an approval from,” Benach jokes. As opposed to Ally, Jackson “wasn’t going to have a very big arc” in terms of wardrobe. “We wanted to keep him pretty consistent,” she explains, “to let her arc really flow and go places. We kind of kept him in a uniform.”
Benach previously received a Costume Designers Guild nomination for “Drive” (2011). She has also lent her talents to films including “Blue Valentine” (2010), “The Place Beyond the Pines” (2012), “Midnight Special” (2016), “Loving” (2016), “The Light Between Oceans” (2016) and “The Neon Demon” (2016).
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