Arianne Phillips gets the best of both fashion worlds. She works as a stylist to the stars like her longtime friend Madonna, whom Phillips also designs wacky wardrobes for her onstage performances—like a sexy Joan of Arc costume with a tight bodice and very high slits (Phillips has a fascination with historical women with “wild” lives). As an Oscar nominee, Phillips has also designed for blockbuster films like Walk the Line and A Single Man, directed by Tom Ford.
Yahoo Style caught up with fashion’s favorite innovator to discuss her latest project; a collaboration with Mr. Porter for the up-and-coming film, Kingsman: The Secret Service, for which Phillips designed the costumes. Kingsman, starring a stylish cast (Samuel Jackson, Colin Firth, and Michael Caine) will release February 13th.
Yahoo Style: What was your inspiration for Kingsman?
Arianne Phillips: The Kingsman story is about gentleman elite spies, so I looked at the culture around Savile Row tailor shop in England. This is the classic British style, which is why the process of designing for the film was very organic and authentic.
YS: What’s it like, being an American, designing an Englishman wardrobe?
AP: I was surprised that Matthew Vaughn [the film’s director] asked me to design the costumes for this film. Though, he explained that he wanted outside eyes—an updated version of Savile Row and English tailoring.
YS: When were you introduced to Savile Row?
AP: I started my relationship and understanding of Savile Row in the late 90s with Madonna. She lived in London and was obsessed with English gentleman tailoring and style. So I have had a little taste of Savile Row through Madonna, which makes sense since she has always had a unique relationship with menswear. Fast forwarding 10 years later; she asked me to design the costumes for W./E., the film about the Duke and Duchess of Windsor that she directed. This is when I got to really dig my heels in, and learn properly about this history and tradition of Savile Row—you know, having suits made and tailored.
YS: What about your next project?
AP: I’m working on quite a lot. I’m working on an exciting, forthcoming, yet-to-be-announced project with Prada. That will take place in London during fashion week in February. Until then, I’m getting ready to go to Milan to do fittings, for Ungaro, whom I will be styling the show, as well as all that goes along with visuals and performance around Madonna’s new album. I’ll also be squeezing in some editorial, too! After almost a year of working on Kingsman, it’s nice to be able to take some time out and focus on the fashion side of my career.
YS: Wow! How do you balance it all?
AP: I have support and help, with a great team and agents. For someone who has creative A.D.D., everyday is different, which is really awesome! This is why I initially pursued these two fractions of my profession—styling and costume design—very different jobs that both utilize different skill sets, so it keeps the work fresh and interesting!
YS: What’s the hardest part?
AP: Not sleeping.
YS: It’s Awards season! What’s been your favorite movie this year?
AP: I’m an Academy member, so I just sent in my ballot. I loved Selma. Unbroken, The Immigrant, and Birdman are my 4 top picks (and two of those films are directed by women—sadly a rarity in Hollywood that we have to change)!
YS: If you could work with one person or character—dead or alive—who would it be?
AP: As a stylist, I’m pretty photographer oriented—I make my choices based on photographers and magazines—models, actors and celebrities are not really my first choice. I wish I could have worked with Irving Penn, Helmut Newton, Avedon, Guy Bourdin. As a costume designer, I’m attracted to films about transformation and strong women. Give me a great story about a woman, with a wild life and I’m down for it!