By Bronwyn Barnes
January 11, 2013 at 10:35 PM EST
Wilson Webb
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From the Dude’s sweater in The Big Lebowski to the return of Indy’s fedora in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, costume designer Mary Zophres is behind more than a few iconic big screen fashion statements. Most recently, she wardrobed Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Sean Penn and a cast of thousands for the throwback thriller Gangster Squad, which hits theaters today.

In this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly (click here to buy the issue), Zophres explains how she helped transform Emma Stone into a bona fide 1940s bombshell and why Gosling is the sexiest member of the  Squad.

Click through the gallery to see more photos of the Gangster Squad stars in costume, and find out why Zophres says audiences wouldn’t want to see Sean Penn looking like the real-life Mickey Cohen, how the slit in Stone’s dress kept getting higher, and which film stars inspired Gosling’s dapper ensembles. SEE THE PHOTOS

Next: “He beats the crap out of the sheriff in walking slippers”

“We took inspiration from the real Mickey Cohen, but we didn’t base [Sean’s] clothes on his,” admits Zophres, who says she had a good reason for taking sartorial license with the character’s wardrobe. “He was a shlumpy, roly-poly guy who wore suits [made of]  slick fabric. You don’t want Sean Penn to look like the real Mickey Cohen. We wanted [Sean’s character] to look fierce and intimidating; He beats the crap out of the sheriff in walking slippers.”

Next: “By process of elimination, we went with red hair”

“Emma was blonde in Spider-Man, and she was a [brunette] in Zombieland… [so] by process of elimination, we went with red,” says Zophres, who, along with the heads of hair and makeup, had a say in what color Stone should dye her hair to play the role of Grace Faraday. “We had a ton of ideas for what [shade of] red, and we pulled a bunch of references [like] Christina Hendricks and Rita Hayworth.” As for Gosling’s well-dressed Sgt. Jerry Wooters, Zophres drew inspiration from the leading men of the day. “We looked at pictures of Errol Flynn and Clark Gable, [men who were] classic but stylish,” she explains.

Next: “He’s a guy who doesn’t care about as much what he looks like”

When it came to working with Josh Brolin, who plays Squad leader Sgt. John O’Mara, Zophres knew what to expect. “I did No Country for Old Men and True Grit with Josh. He’s a guy who doesn’t care about as much what he looks like, he’s utilitarian,” the costume designer explains. The one wardrobe item Brolin did take pride in? “He loved wearing the fedora.”

Next: “It’s a studio movie, so you [always] want to make the slit higher”

Zophres made the satin-and-silk-chiffon gown worn by Stone character’s when she makes her memorable entrance. “At first, she was going to be wearing a teal gown, but then we had a fitting, and when she put the red one on, my jaw dropped. It [was] the show stopper,” she remembers. “It’s a studio movie, so you [always] want to make the slit higher.”

Reporting by Solvej Schou

Follow Bronwyn on Twitter: @BronwynBarnes

Read more:

Shirley MacLaine on her ‘Downton Abbey’ look: ‘The corsets were really demanding’

As if! ‘Clueless’ inspires clothing collection for Spring 2013

‘Django Unchained’: How costume designer Sharen Davis helped Kerry Washington dress the part

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