Charlize Theron kicks ass in "Atomic Blonde" — without sacrificing her style
We’ve all experienced style envy. You see someone walking down the street wearing an amazing piece of clothing and looking freaking fabulous. You think, “I want that.” That being a skirt, shirt, dress, pants, shorts, flats, heels, sunglasses, necklace, ring, etc. — or, you know, the whole damn outfit.
Well, watching Atomic Blonde is like having the most intense case of style envy because British spy Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) looks chic and sophisticated AF in her little black dresses, classic coats, polished pant suits — all while kicking ass and taking names.
There’s even a scene in which Lorraine, who’s wearing a skirt, takes down some bad guys. When recounting the story to her bosses, she says if she’d known her colleague David Percival (James McAvoy) was going to call the cops on her while she went through the apartment of a fallen agent, she would have worn a different outfit.
But, from where we were sitting, we wouldn’t want it any other way. Because watching Theron take down her opponents in that outfit is just another example of women’s ability to kick ass, without sacrificing style. And here to discuss that is costume designer Cindy Evans, who spoke with HelloGiggles via email.
HelloGiggles: What was your overall vision for the costumes of Atomic Blonde, and Lorraine’s style in particular?
Cindy Evans: I wanted them to feel intentionally heightened in moments, sexy and gritty in others. David Leitch, the director, really pushed us all to strive for the ultimate “cool factor,” and ultimately it became our mantra. With Lorraine, I was inspired more than I realize by Helmut Newton and his ’80s, iconic fashion photography, as well as the toughness and sex appeal of Debbie Harry.
HG: To me, her style strikes a really nice balance between being feminine and masculine. Do you agree, and if so, how did you go about mixing feminine and masculine pieces?
CE: I do agree. I feel like Lorraine knows what card to play when it comes to her sexuality, regardless of what she is wearing. However, I feel she is just as sexy kicking ass in her pant suits as she is is her short skirt, garters, and stockings. It really comes down to an attitude and she’s a savage.
HG: Another thing I love about her costumes is that they’re practical but still fashionable and feminine — and you especially see that in the scene where she fights in a skirt. Is that something you kept in mind? Making sure she could move and kick ass, but not at the expense of style? If so, why did that motivate you?
CE: I used a lot of stretchy fabrics for all of the fight sequences — in particular that one, as it had so much choreography. Charlize is great. She tells you what she needs so she can be prepared. It was her idea to attach the sweater to the skirt. It saved us.
She wears a lot of black and white. What was the thought process behind her color palette? What did you want to convey about Lorraine through the colors that she predominantly wears?
CE: Back to the Helmut Newton inspiration, it’s mostly black and white. As well, knowing in advance the [director of photography Jonathan Sela] was going use a lot of color in his lighting, made me gravitate to a monochromatic palette with her. I also felt it helped her character stand alone in the film stylistically. Colored lighting can often shift your palette, or take away any color that the clothing may have. We found a good balance in the end.
French operative Delphine’s Sofia Boutella bohemian style is so different from that of Lorraine. How did you approach her looks? What do her clothes say about her to you?
CE: I think always knowing the character was a French woman gave me great inroads in trying to capture that grungy, sexy effortlessness they exude. When I found out it was Sofia, it was like the costume gods smiled down on me. That girl is a dream to dress.
Do you have a favorite costume of Lorraine’s or otherwise?
CE: Honestly, I love every character we dressed, as well as the background. It was a massive treasure hunt gathering the clothing in Europe, but very satisfying to work on a film that allowed you to dream as big and COOL as you liked.