"London Fields" Set and Costume Design
There are challenges associated with adapting any novel into a film; however, London Fields with its subplots, intricacies, and metafictional aspect proved especially demanding. While Martin Amis’ ideas and dialogue have been faithfully preserved, the universe he created in London Fields has heretofore only existed in the imagination.
To bring the universe to life, Producer Chris Hanley entrusted the directorial reigns of London Fields to Mathew Cullen, a world renowned creator of some of the most widely-seen music videos in the last decade. A master at creating fully fleshed out worlds in four minutes or less, Cullen broke London Fields down into a series of stunning set pieces that bring Amis’ world to life in a vivid, visceral way.
London Fields showcases a mind-blowing blend of real locations and London landmarks along with elaborate studio sets and computer-generated vistas. Cullen creates a mélange of architectural styles—past, present, and future—in which art deco is juxtaposed with modern minimalism and posh penthouses and nightclubs are jarringly matched with crumbling council flats and backwater pubs. While Big Ben towers above the city, the sky above is a fiery red, as if the world is about to go up in flames. On the margins of the screen, we see hints of quasi-military activity implying that riots or a revolution are about to occur, which is consistent with the crisis Amis repeatedly mentions but does not name in London Fields.
The clothing worn by the cast of London Fields was just as important as the setting in creating the right atmosphere. For that task, Cullen collaborated with costume designer Susie Coulthard. In London Fields, Jim Sturgess (Keith Talent) is the quintessence of sleaze, with slick-backed hair and a low-rent rock-n-roll wardrobe comprised of tight fitting skins and glitzy metallics. Conversely, Theo James (Guy Clinch) is the epitome of propriety and prosperity, sporting a wardrobe of bespoke suits, all of which look exactly the same or, for his at-home look, an Etro cashmere cardigan and custom slippers. Most impressive is Amber Heard’s incarnation of Nicola Six, the woman of many faces and as many personalities. Often attired in white (for her “virginal” persona) or black (for her “femme fatale” moments), there is always a pop of bright red, whether it be shoes, a rose, or lipstick.
Playing on the contrasting architectural styles of the settings, Heard is outfitted in a variety of couture garments, both vintage and straight-off-the runway. In addition to Versace, Heard’s wardrobe includes outfits by top-tier designers like Dolce and Gabbana, Dior, Burberry, and Stella McCartney.
Arguably, Heard’s most memorable costume is from her death scene. Walking down a dark alley in the middle of the night, the sky overhead awash with fireworks, she wears a diaphanous white slip dress. As she approaches a car, driven by her killer, its headlights shine through her barely-there dress, making Heard look both voluptuous and vulnerable. It is the perfect dress for Nicola’s rendezvous with death.