In Steven Spielberg‘s Bridge of Spies, James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks) is an American lawyer who works with the CIA during the Cold War to help in a negotiation to rescue a pilot detained in the Soviet Union.
The amazing period costumes were designed by Kasia Walicka-Maimone, known for Moonrise Kingdom (2012), Moneyball (2011) and The Adjustment Bureau (2011). Walicka-Maimone was attracted to the project as soon as she read the script. “It is a phenomenal story,” she said. “I just watched the film again last night and it resonates like a tsunami. It comes back to you over and over and over again because it is a movie with so many great elements of great filmmaking.”
“The story is so clear, the outline of the story is so direct. By the time I walked into the project there was already a lot of research existing from the team on the ground,” Walicka-Maimone said. After she joined the team, she continued the research process, looking for elements of humanity portrayed. Some of the characters, like Donovan, were so well photographed and this helped her to translate who these men were.
For the women in the film, Walicka-Maimone was inspired by the fashion of the time. “We drew a lot from photography from the ’50s and ’60s. From fashion photography, from street photograph,” she said. There were three categories that were the focus: the lead characters, the world to be represented and the color palette of the period that spanned through America, Germany and Russia.
The color palette played with a few different elements. “One was the world of the streets, which had to resonate humanity,” the costume designer explained. People dressed up during this time period and the color palette was driven by men’s attire and women’s attire, the latter of which was much more varied. “There was a lot of primary colors and a very vibrant palette, and on the street it needed to feel like a variety of humanity.”
With a massive undertaking like this film, there are always challenges and Walicka-Maimone faced the ones she encountered gracefully. “I always feel the biggest challenge is to assemble a great team of people that you’re going to execute the film with, and the second challenge is to find enough stocks, and the right stocks,” she stated. Sometimes she had to collect the stocks before she knew the sizes of the people who were going to be wearing them. So many estimations were made before the fact and then great tailors had to be found. “Great tailors are a rare phenomenon in the current world so securing their time was crucial for us.”
“This collaboration was just a privilege of moviemaking,” Walicka-Maimone stated about her experiences working on Bridge of Spies. She was so drawn to the magic of the storytelling unfolding that, even after a long day of working, sometimes she would stay on set just to watch the filming.