Julian Day’s latest costumier triumph came in the form of British Gangster re-make Brighton Rock. Based on Graham Greene’s famous 1938 crime novel, director Rowan Joffe has updated the story to include the backdrop of the violent 1960’s mod and rocker battles that plagued the beaches of Brighton throughout the decade. Needless to say this chronological shift has allowed for some drastic and fantastic alterations in Brighton Rock’s aesthetic, and Day’s costume design is no exception.
In a similar vein to his flawless costume design in Control, Day refuses to be swept up in the remembered romance of the period. His 1960’s is bleak and cold – and effortlessly reflected in his costume design. Instead of the endless Biba miniskirts and Mary Quant eyelashes donned by the Carnaby Street queen, Rose (the manipulated alibi to Sam Riley’s Pinkie, played by Andrea Riseborough) is seen in much more unassuming ensembles. Her natural-toned hair, paired with longer skirts, button-down cardigans and shapeless coats appear to more accurately resemble the more demure vogue of the popularized late 1950’s and undoubtedly reflects a more gritty aspect of arguably, one of the most romanticised and iconized decades in modern British History.
Likewise, Riley’s outfits lack much of the assumed panache and swagger of the 1960’s youth. Unmistakable references to the era are evident from the use of pieces from iconic mod brand Jonathan Smedley, however, Pinkie’s ensembles further show Day’s commitment to presenting 1960’s Brighton in as real and as gritty manner as possible, and one may be forgiven for thinking the clothes belong to decade or two before.
So, if you’re sick of the 1970’s hypocritically opulent hippy or the mid-nineties neon enthusiast who is supposed to provide our sartorial muse this season and fancy coordinating your transition wardrobe to the bleak backdrop of Manchester in mid-February: look no further than Brighton Rock for your inspiration.
For men, the effortless tailoring sported by Riley is a timeless look, and teamed with a skinny tie, button-up cardigans and khaki toned-trench coats; creates a an unmistakable Mod feel. For authentic pieces, try rummaging through boxes of uninspiring smelly cast-off’s in ‘Mr. Ryan’s Famous Second Hand Store’ on Oldham Street for some inexpensive gems, but please wash before wearing. If you lack both the time and commitment to hunter-gather your new look, Gap have a fantastic selection of tailored menswear and Topman offer a reasonable selection of Pinkie-alike shirts and cardigans.
For the girls eager to emulate Rose’s understated gamine appeal, a treasure trove of vintage and second hand pieces can be found in and around Manchester’s Northern Quarter: particularly for boxy handbags, charmingly worn-in Mary Jane’s and the perfect tweed overcoat. The high-street is also awash with simple shift dresses (Topshop have a great selection) and for simply-cut and hard-wearing cardigans head to M&S or Gap. For a terribly unimaginative flourish, why not pick up Topshop’s ‘Brighton Rock’ lipstick and while you’re on your weekly pilgrimage funding Philip Green’s irrepressible empire, pick up a pair of white opaque tights to complete your look.