If there's one actress these days who's really having a moment, it's Jessica Chastain. She's received Oscar nominations two years in a row and has played the roles of complicated, powerful women, from Maya in Zero Dark Thirty to Murph in Interstellar. And, her latest character is anything but wishy-washy.
A Most Violent Year is shaping up to be one of the biggest splashes of this year, and there's already speculation that Chastain will snag an Oscar for her role as Anna Morales. Anna, the daughter of a Brooklyn gangster, is also the wife of immigrant-turned-oil mogul Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac), whose new business prospect puts his company and family at risk. The film's title refers to the fact that 1981 was one of the most statistically violent years on record in NYC. Anna herself is a calculating, capable, classy, smart woman who will go to any length to protect herself and her family. So, it’s no doubt that her wardrobe consists exclusively of the one designer whom women considered to make the most capable, classy, smart clothing of the 1980s: Giorgio Armani.
Armani made the cover of TIME in 1982, but even in ’81 his now-iconic silhouette (big shoulders, small waists, and tailored workwear separates) had already muddied the lines between boardroom and barroom. Armani’s definition of power was inextricably linked with sex, and Chastain’s Anna, in her crepe blouses, wrap trenches, beaded jackets, and plunging bustiers, is the very picture of power.
Using archival pieces from the era, Armani worked with director J.C Chandor and costume designer Kasia Walicka-Maimone to provide every single outfit in Anna’s wardrobe. At the recent Armani and Yahoo Style lunch honoring the collaboration for the movie, Chastain nerded out with us over the pivotal role Armani played in Anna’s life, and in the film: “Anna is a woman who has recently come into a lot of wealth and definitely wants to be able to walk into a room and be the best-dressed woman in the room... She’s thought about it and she’s chosen to only wear Armani for people around her.” Click play to hear Chastain talk more about her wardrobe, and the meaning behind that white coat.
A Most Violent Year opens on New Year’s Eve in the United States.