Minor spoilers ahead for Priscilla. Elvis Presley influenced much of the style of the 1960s and 1970s with his flamboyant stage costumes and timeless fashion. But in Priscilla — a film by Sofia Coppola starring Jacob Elordi and Cailee Spaena as the king of rock'n'roll and his ex-wife, based on the book by Priscilla Presley Elvis and me — the dress tells a more subtle, intimate story of a woman creating her own identity.
For costume designer Stacey Battat, who also worked on Coppola Ring Bling and Deceived, PriscillaThe costumes started with a photo of Elvis and Priscilla Presley from 1970, where she said it was obvious that the two diverged not only in style, but also in real life. “I think Sofia and I looked at that photo soon. and he noticed how uncomfortable he looked,” says Battat. “I think that photo informs so much of how we saw them later in the film.
At the beginning of the film, the audience is introduced to 14-year-old Priscilla Beaulieu, who lives with her family in Germany on a US army base, wearing pastel vests, cute A-line skirts and a heart necklace. In preparation, Battat and her team researched fabric choices and silhouettes from the late 1950s and early 1960s, addressing vintage issues Fashion and Harper's Bazaar for inspiration. They also looked at the actual photo of Priscilla waving goodbye to Elvis as he leaves Germany for the United States, wearing a plaid dress and a transparent headscarf, which they created for the film.
Later, Priscilla moves in with Elvis in Memphis, Tennessee, where she undergoes a makeover, from plaid skirts and hair bows to opera gloves and glamorous mini dresses. As the couple go shopping, viewers see Elvis telling Priscilla what she should wear. “That obviously informs the costumes he wears later” says Battat of the scene where Elvis also asks Priscilla to dye her hair from brown to black and start wearing eyeliner. Since then, we've seen Priscilla in the revolving door in Elvis-approved blue and pink outfits (no prints or brown, which Elvis hates).
While much of the Priscilla is told through more intimate moments between the couple—like at home, where Priscilla wears pastel lingerie sets and nightgowns—the film shows the couple's wedding in 1967. For the look, Battat worked with Chanel and Valentine, who made Priscilla's dress and Elvis' suit. True to the photos from the Las Vegas ceremony, Virginie Viard of Battat and Chanel created a lace-embellished long-sleeve A-line dress for Priscilla, paired with a tiara and waist veil. “The look had references to the original dress,” says Battat. “And then we kind of adjusted some things to fit Cailey's (five-foot-one) frame.” Similarly, Battat recreated the outfit Priscilla wore after giving birth to their daughter Lisa Marie, staying true to the original with a bubblegum pink dress.
The last half Priscilla he sees Elvis Presley at the height of his career in Las Vegas and Priscilla alone in Los Angeles. As the two separate from each other, they also dress differently. The singer-actor swaps his leather jackets and evening jackets for bright jumpsuits – for which Battat collaborated with BK Enterprises – while Priscilla embraces the looser nature of '70s style in pants and prints and her natural brown locks.
“We looked at historical images of Elvis and Priscilla and thought about what the image was that they projected to the world,” says Battat. “I think he's become a lot more theatrical and masked — a lot of makeup, jewelry, big sideburns.” She will happen unmasked.”
Priscilla arrives in theaters on January 1.
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