In the new miniseries ''Bonnie & Clyde'' (airing in two parts on Lifetime, History, and A&E Dec. 8-9), Emile Hirsch and Holliday Grainger make the legendary bank-robbing duo look criminally stylish; They were aided and abetted by Oscar-nominated costume designer Marilyn Vance (''The Untouchables'')
Nearly all of Hirsch’s suits are vintage pieces. “There’s no fabric around today that can duplicate the weight and texture of fabric [from the ’30s],” says Vance. The suits are also all single-breasted, for one clever reason: easy access to firepower. “He was carrying guns, so his coat is open most of the time. A double-breasted would have too much fabric.” Hirsch says touches like that helped him get into character. “You really feel the [time] period when you get in the clothes. Then they put a tommy gun in your hand and you can’t help but feel that swagger come on.”
Bonnie and Clyde, starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, may define the outlaws’ image, but Vance says her strictly authentic approach is “far away” from the 1967 film’s look.
Vance picked jewel tones as Grainger’s signature, but she used subtler details to help Hirsch stand out from the other cast members (including Lane Garrison as Clyde’s brother Buck and Sarah Hyland as Buck’s wife, Blanche). “Bold ties set [Clyde] apart. He liked looking good,” Vance explains.
Vance’s team handmade Bonnie’s crochet hats, some of which the designer modeled on pieces from her own personal collection. But for Clyde’s hats, Vance stuck to vintage. “You can’t find felt like that these days — something with that texture and softness but that will keep the shape.” The style was inspired by another screen icon: “[It’s] kind of like what Humphrey Bogart wore — not a huge, high crown, because I wanted him to look sexy.”
Bonnie’s sole purse marries style with function. “It’s what they called in those days a ‘knitting bag’ — fabric with a wood handle, because she could hold her gun in there.”
Although some vintage shoes made it into the shoot, most are replicas. “Their feet were teeny compared with today,” says Vance. “Everything that was original had to be fixed and fit.”
The vintage knit suits that Grainger wears were chosen because they fit Bonnie’s hit-and-run lifestyle. “She travels all the time,” Vance says. “Knits don’t have to be pressed or ironed.”