Austin Butler needed a ridiculous amount of costumes for Elvis

By Charlene Badasie | 1 hour ago

Australian director Baz Luhrmann is known for turning the cinematic experience into a visual feast. Of Romeo + Juliet by William Shakespeare in 1996 to Gatsby the magnificent in 2013, his extravagant directing style is instantly recognizable. His latest Elvis outing is no different, with Austin Butler transformed into the king of rock and roll for the biopic that travels from the dusty backwoods of the South to the neon lights of 1970s Las Vegas.

To capture the essence of the most unforgettable showman of the 20th century, costume designer Catherine Martin told Variety that there are two categories of costumes in the film. This includes recreations of clothes that existed in real life and fictional outfits that are a synthesis of clothes that Elvis actually owned. She also explained how each of the 90 costumes Austin Butler wears throughout the film helps tell the story since the music legend liked to express himself through the clothes he wore (as mentioned in Esquire).

Like all of the costumes Martin designed for Austin Butler, the iconic pink rockabilly suit was meant to facilitate movement and serve the practicalities of filmmaking. “The pink suit is a combination of this very drapey, fabulous wool fabric with a very soft, almost cardigan-like feel in the jacket,” she told the publication. As the singer’s fame grew in the story, Martin created outfits like jumpsuits and leather jackets to match his ever-changing tastes. She also collaborated with Kim and Butch Polston of B&K Enterprises in Charlestown, Indiana, who recreated the rock star’s 1970s stage gear.

The epic collaboration saw Martin order suits for the Austin Butler vehicle that were carefully created in the same fashion as the original outfits. She even managed to replicate the chain stitch of Gene Doucette, who personally embroidered the actual Elvis jumpsuits. Another key collaborator was the King’s longtime costume designer Bill Belew, who at the time worked for NBC’s wardrobe department. Martin explained that Elvis wore a tight leather suit for his 1968 NBC special. It was the first time fans could see the Napoleon collar that became his signature in the 70s, so it was very important to have the perfect costume.

With so much care taken to create an aesthetically faithful version of Elvis onscreen, fans are in for a treat when the movie hits theaters this weekend. Inspired by real events, the biopic chronicles the life and career of Elvis Presley (Austin Butler) over two decades. Viewers get an inside look at his rise to stardom, as well as the singer’s complicated relationship with his manager, Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks).

Elvis is directed by Baz Luhrmann from a script he co-wrote with Sam Bromell, Craig Pearce and Jeremy Doner. The film had its world premiere at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival where it received a twelve-minute standing ovation from the audience. Critics were also kind to the project, praising Luhrmann’s dazzling energy and style which is perfectly complemented by Austin Butler’s outstanding performance. Luke Bracey, David Wenham, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Kodi Smit-McPhee, Gary Clark Jr. and Richard Roxburgh also appear in supporting roles.