Faux Fur and Jewelry Bring the World of ‘Mank’ to Life Onscreen

Jazz Tangcay
·2-min read

When it came to creating the costumes of David Fincher’s “Mank,” costume designer Trish Summerville had an advantage. “There were a lot of photographs out there,” she says, especially of Marion Davies, played by Amanda Seyfried in the black and white tribute to old Hollywood.

Summerville included a hat in her first sketch of Seyfried’s onscreen look, but since hair department head Kimberley Spiteri had made such a nice wig, Summerville ditched that idea.

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The coat she sports, Summerville says, was a muted powdery blue. “It’s like a pale dusty periwinkle wool crepe. The fur is faux to mimic a minx, and we painted into it to give it more depth.”

Shooting in black and white gave her liberty to heavily paint on the costume to give the fur dimension. Summerville had ordered pattern books from the 1930s that had illustrations and the right silhouette for the time.

“I pulled some old pieces from old rental houses that have cool sleeves because a lot of clothing back then had these interesting sleeves — where it’s full on top, with a little twist to it and it balloons in the forearm with a fitted cuff,” she says.
The coat, she guestimates, took three days, at the most five days “for it to be built.”

Remix, an L.A.-based company, was responsible and instrumental for the shoes in the movie. “A lot of the shoes of that time are very narrow, and the sizing is small.”

Summerville purchased footwear for Seyfried and Lily Collins.

The first time Summerville tried the coat on Seyfried, as it turned out, Seyfried’s daughter was in the room. “She said, ‘Mama you’re so pretty.’ It was great to see her daughter’s reaction, which was just genuine coming from a child.”

Summerville added a heavy diamond brooch, reflecting the real Davies, who was renowned for her jewelry collection.

Summerville doesn’t count how many costumes she made “because I don’t want to freak out maybe.” Instead, she prefers a breakdown for each character and how many changes are needed, which doesn’t necessarily mean a new costume each time.
“We probably built 90% of all their garments including shirts,” she says.

The main thing for the costume designer was “making sure we had enough fabric, [and] even things as little as the buttons, which are now becoming rare, since button stores are going out of business.”

Summerville searches online, looking at collectors and even online stores such as Etsy. “That enamel buckle is from a vintage belt — and little things like that help sell that period.”

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