The Style and Times That In­flu­enced ‘Bad Times at the El Royale’

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Danny Glicker did in­tense re­search to create the cloth­ing that ended up on

Chris Hemsworth, Jon Hamm, Dakota John­son and more in the movie. BY MAX­INE WALLY

The first time cos­tume de­signer Danny Glicker read the script for the film “Bad Times at the El Royale,” he was moved by the era in which it took place — the Six­ties. It was a decade of tu­mult: as­sas­si­na­tions, war and an in­cred­i­ble amount of po­lit­i­cal un­rest and dis­sat­is­fac­tion. Cul­tur­ally speak­ing, an enor­mous shift rum­bled as well. The old guard gave way to a new gen­er­a­tion. Glicker found the nar­ra­tive of the movie cen­tered around archetypes — the hip­pie cult leader, played by Chris Hemsworth; the goodold-boy role filled by Jon Hamm — that, as the story goes on, are sub­se­quently dis­man­tled.

“For a cos­tume de­signer, those are all very ex­cit­ing places to be­gin think­ing about a project,” Glicker said.

Glicker got to work flesh­ing out what the char­ac­ters looked like, as he en­vi­sioned them emerg­ing from the page into fully fledged peo­ple. He saw the strug­gling girl-group soul singer Dar­lene Sweet, per­formed by Cyn­thia Erivo, in a bee­hive hairdo typ­i­cal of Six­ties Mo­town singers, while Hamm would don a plaid sport jacket and horn-rimmed glasses, and Hemsworth would rock a white but­ton-down with art­ful em­broi­dery on the back.

Glicker, who got his start shop­ping for the fab­ric in Broad­way shows, ap­proaches his craft with an in­ten­sity bor­der­ing on ob­ses­sion — and it makes him a busy guy. (This year alone, he de­signed the out­fits for “Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot,” “The Front Run­ner” and “Seren­ity.”) When he agrees to take on a project, he reads the script a min­i­mum of four times. Then he cre­ates books of re­search for each char­ac­ter, which not only in­clude out­fit ideas, but con­tain the break­downs and story arcs of the film. Glicker calls him­self a “re­search fa­natic,” tap­ping in­for­ma­tion from all sources: he scours the In­ter­net for his­tor­i­cal con­text, is a big pro­po­nent for li­braries and the books that give him in­for­ma­tion the web can­not, and amasses cloth­ing from the era to study the zip­per pulls, but­tons and stitch­ing styles.

“But I'm not just think­ing about one char­ac­ter when

I'm con­sid­er­ing how he or she is dressed,” Glicker said. “I'm think­ing about the whole world they're com­ing from. The thing that I al­ways like to ask my­self is, ‘What is the char­ac­ter try­ing to project to the world, and what is it that they're try­ing not to project?'”

Hemsworth, in the role of

Billy Lee, is the vil­lain­ous leader of a group of tran­sient young hip­pies. To pre­pare for Lee, Glicker took a look at the cults of the Six­ties, and those who lived com­mu­nally, cre­at­ing his own sub­story for Hemsworth's out­fit as he went along.

“The thing that I saw with the cults was that all of these groups of peo­ple started out with in­cred­i­ble op­ti­mism,” he said. “In the case of Chris' char­ac­ter, that helped me be­cause I wasn't only think­ing of him, I was also think­ing of the peo­ple around him — and that then in­formed his out­fit. In my imag­i­na­tion, I saw sev­eral peo­ple in his com­mu­nity who were em­broi­der­ing lit­tle de­signs onto his shirt.”

Each film comes with its own set of chal­lenges. For “El Royale,” the main cos­tumes worn by each ac­tor — called his or her “hero look” — had to with­stand stunts, dif­fer­ent weather con­di­tions and en­vi­ron­ments, and vari­ant light­ing. To pre­pare for this hur­dle, Glicker worked along­side the film's pro­duc­tion de­signer, Martin Whist, and cin­e­matog­ra­pher, Sea­mus McGarvey, to screen-test ev­ery piece of fab­ric and gar­ment fea­tured on-screen.

“We would have sam­ples of dif­fer­ent wall­pa­pers and dif­fer­ent wall col­ors, be­cause we had to be in love with it — once [the ac­tors] were in them, they were locked in their out­fits. And we would find with the color pal­ette and the light­ing con­di­tions, there was al­ways go­ing to be a sur­prise on cam­era.”

And, like the chal­lenges, ev­ery project he takes on has its own unique time in his­tory — a po­lit­i­cal and cul­tural back­drop upon which Glicker paints his own pic­ture. Out of all the decades he's worked on, which one's his fa­vorite?

“I have to say, the era that I most love to de­sign for is usu­ally the era that I'm de­sign­ing at any given mo­ment,” he said. “I feel like it's my job to fall in love and be­come an ad­vo­cate for the in­tegrity of what­ever world it is that I'm pre­sent­ing.

“It's al­ways about the truth of each world.”

Cyn­thia Erivo por­trays a soul singer in the film.

Chris Hemsworth as a hip­pie in “Bad Times at the El Royale.”

Jon Hamm in a scene from the movie.

Dakota John­son'schar­ac­ter in a Six­ties-era fringejacket and bell-bot­toms.

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