“High heels, sort of a classically short enough skirt that when you sat down you saw a little bit of leg, a kind of tailored silhouette with some detail on it, a neckline that’s not too low and not too high that sort of suggests, but doesn’t shove it in your face.”
Such is the “Fox News look” for women, as described by costume designer Colleen Atwood, who is responsible for bringing the above look to screen in the new based-on-truth movie “Bombshell.”
(The men of Fox News? Per Atwood: “‘Well, we have a suit and tie on, we can do anything.’”)
The film stars Charlize Theron as Megyn Kelly, Nicole Kidman as Gretchen Carlson and Margot Robbie as Kayla Pospisil — as well as John Lithgow as the disgraced Roger Ailes — during the 2016 sexual assault claims brought against Ailes that rocked Fox News.
Atwood, a four-time Oscar winner for period films like “Chicago,” “Memoirs of a Geisha,” “Alice in Wonderland” and “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” expressed interest to a friend she overheard talking about the project.
“And they were like, ‘Really? You’d want to do this kind of movie?’” Atwood recalls.
She was looking to do something contemporary, however, and found her match in “Bombshell.”
To begin, she watched lots of real footage of Kelly, Carlson, Ailes and the rest of the film’s leads, and visited a handful of newsrooms. “And I hung outside of Fox News in New York and just watched people come and go, trying to figure out who belonged where,” she says. “But it was interesting because the thing is everybody that’s coming to work doesn’t come to work in what they go on air in. You know, that’s a different thing. So, it was interesting just seeing all the levels of the world together, layered up.”
The film begins with a scene in which Megyn Kelly walks past a male reporter, who shouts at her “beautiful dress, Megyn!” Theron-as-Kelly turns to the camera and replies, “He’s not horny, he’s just ambitious.” The dress responsible for setting up the film immediately was made by Atwood, with the intention of being “really strong visually in a way to sell itself to say ‘Fox’ really quickly,” Atwood says.
Though she sourced pieces from brands like Roland Mouret, she ended up making most of the women’s clothes herself so that they could directly match what the real women had been filmed wearing. While much has changed in the time since the movie takes place, Atwood believes the way of dressing at Fox News has staying power.
“I think that when you create a brand like Fox News, there’s a certain thing that’s part of the brand,” she says. “It’s maybe a little less controlled than it was when Roger Ailes was in charge, but there’s definitely a vibe. And classically in broadcast, there are colors that work better. They like bright colors and things like that, which now I think that when you look at the news now, there’s less of a lean toward that. It’s kind of more classic clothes. But then every once in a while, if you flip to Fox News, you see a whole other thing. You see more color. You see more of that world again.”
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