See The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Just For These Gorgeous Costumes

Photo courtesy Warner Bros.
Whether through Mad Men, Austin Powers, or the wonders of TV syndication, we've all been heavily exposed to '60s fashions onscreen. That's why Guy Ritchie's team had their work cut out for them in making The Man From U.N.C.L.E., set in 1963, look like something fresh and new. Costume designer Joanna Johnston did her historical homework, but also took some liberties when dressing Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, and Elizabeth Debicki in eye-catching pieces that enhance the story without distracting us from all the action.

"I'm absolutely crazy about a two-year period — '67 and '68 are magnificent in fashion," Johnston (an Academy Award nominee for Lincoln) told Refinery29. "It's a pocket before it moves into the '70s vibe and after the early-'60s thing. I honed in on that because Guy didn't really mind. He didn't want it to look academically anything, so he gave me a free reign. He wanted it to look just cool and sexy."

Rather than rely on vintage pieces or existing retro looks, Johnston had most of the outfits made from scratch, that way they'd survive the movie's intense action sequences. Vikander plays Gaby Teller, an East German mechanic and daughter of a former Nazi scientist who may be helping a group of rogue Nazi-sympathizers, led by Elizabeth Debicki's Victoria Vinciguerra, to build a nuclear bomb. Like their characters, their ways of dressing are completely opposite, and yet we covet everything they wear in this movie, from cute minidresses to dramatic pantsuits and gaudy earrings. Even the drab, Eastern Bloc overalls that Vikander dons at the beginning of the movie are worth copping.

From its stunning Italian scenery to its equally gorgeous stars, Ritchie's latest offers a lot for the eyes to feast on. Ahead, a brief preview of the women's fashion in the film, and how each carefully chosen outfit absolutely serves each character (and makes us want to race to a time machine, pronto).
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Photo courtesy Warner Bros.
A Communist In '60s Color, A Villain In Black & White
To the left we have Victoria Vinciguerra (Debicki), the socialite villain who uses her Italian husband's money to buy nuclear arms — as well as a lot of jewelry and high fashion. Gaby Teller (Vikander) has just escaped East Germany, though she's also posing as the fiancée of a Soviet architect (Armie Hammer's Illya Kuryakin). "Gaby is in these very clear, fresh, young colors, young styles," Johnston says, adding that she styled a lot of Vikander's costumes based on '60s model Jean Shrimpton. Vikander's sunglasses here are from Thierry Lasry.
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Photo courtesy Warner Bros.
The Laid-back Hostess
Victoria is in socialite mode as she hosts this racetrack party. The billowy, one-sleeve top makes her look relaxed and open to advances from Napoleon Solo (Cavill), while she's still undoubtedly in charge. Victoria's wardrobe is almost exclusively black and white throughout the film.

"It's about her strength," Johnston says of the color scheme. This particular top is a Valentino fabric Johnston that had constructed to incorporate the jeweled collar and cuff, and drape languidly over the accompanying palazzo pants. "It's an incredibly complicated construction, but it looks like it's just blown on her."
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Photo courtesy Warner Bros.
Killer Rendezvous
Victoria struts like a queen through the lobby of a Rome hotel, in a python vest and palazzo pants that mean business, but a billowy chiffon blouse that suggests more romantic diversions, too.

"Any time she shot, I don't think she had any less than eight rings on her, which were all enormous," Johnston says of Debicki's character, whose look was inspired by another iconic '60s model, Marisa Berenson. "She was a big springboard for me for Victoria. Very strong, very defined, very done. A lot of work goes into all that."
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Photo courtesy Warner Bros.
Cold War, Hot Camouflage
For lunch with her uncle at the Vinciguerra estate, Gaby dons this orange-print "play dress," which means that pleated skirt isn't a skirt at all, but short culottes.

"I wanted something which could work for all those action scenes," Johnston says. The bright color serves a purpose, too. "I just wanted to keep her fresh and identifiable through the chase sequence. I love using color on film, because then you can track people consciously or unconsciously."
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Photo courtesy Warner Bros.
Building Nuclear Bombs Is High-Fashion Business
Victoria's signature black-and-white color scheme has a harder edge with this geometric top. This scene didn't make the movie, but we can still admire it here.
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Photo courtesy Warner Bros.
Horizontal Minimalism
Even though CIA agent Solo knows she's evil, he lets Victoria get the upper hand here. This black-and-white halter column dress accentuates her power, making her even more statuesque, while not so subtly symbolizing her duplicitous nature.
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Photo courtesy Warner Bros.
Breakfast At Dr. Strangelove's
Johnston says Audrey Hepburn's classy style wasn't really an influence for Debicki's costumes. Still, if Holly Golightly ever hopped on a boat to her own secret island to launch a nuclear war, this is definitely what she'd wear to protect herself from wind and sea spray.
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Photo courtesy Warner Bros.
Bon Voyage
This is Victoria's version of going incognito aboard a fishing boat. "She still keeps the glamour and the Versace scarf and the jewelry, but she pretends that she's going under the radar by putting on work clothes," Johnston explains.
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Photo courtesy Warner Bros.
Swinging '60s Spy Wear
Johnston says she wanted something chic and clean to contrast with Gaby's bumps and bruises for this scene. "That little shift dress is potentially a bit more of a nod to Audrey Hepburn, and Alicia has got this slight olive in her skin — it looks so gorgeous on her. So, it's not about the dress so much, it's about her."

How does an East German mechanic find herself wearing groovy cream bouclé and space-age round sunglasses (by Henry Holland) on a rooftop in Rome? Ah, that's the magic of a Guy Ritchie movie.