How the Costumes from Gattaca Inspired Ferragamo’s Latest Collection

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Gattaca, 1997(Film still)

The brand’s creative director Paul Andrew and the cult film’s costume designer Colleen Atwood speak to AnOther about fashion’s future

It goes without saying that we are living through a period in history where the future feels more uncertain than perhaps it ever has before. But this week, Salvatore Ferragamo’s creative director Paul Andrew offered up an optimistic vision for what fashion might look like years from now, through the brand’s Autumn/Winter 2021 collection. Here, Andrew took a step ‘back to the future’, examining the way in which the pre-millenium sci-fi genre presented dress codes on screen. In particular, Andrew was inspired by the costume designs of Colleen Atwood for the 1997 film Gattaca – one which critic Roger Ebert called, “one of the smartest and most provocative of science fiction films, a thriller with ideas.”

But Gattaca is both style and substance, and Atwood’s work for the film is integral to its portrayal of a not-so-distant future that could easily come to be. “I was inspired by the overall world of Gattaca.” Atwood tells AnOther. “The surfaces felt like they emanated light, the palette was limited and bathed in a silver patina. These limitations were the focus of the design; economy and simplicity.” Through this pristine minimalism, she created a uniform for lead characters Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke (who have starred on the covers of AnOther Magazine and Another Man, respectively) that transcended time – and it was the concept of uniform dressing that also inspired the Ferragamo collection. “We reference the idea of the uniform that’s seen in Gattaca, but took it further,” explains Andrew. “We looked at the modern-day ideas of uniforms – particularly with the colours we identify with uniforms today: boy-scout green, janitor brown, girl-guide mauve, cheerleader pink. This collection is a proposition for the new uniform for our new world, somewhat casualised but super luxe, keeping key elements of formality but not suggesting they mean ‘formal’.”

Throughout the collection, colour blocking furthered this concept – it was seen in suiting and separates, fluid floor-skimming dresses, and tailored trousers made from leather (which were given a futuristic update via rubberisation, super lightweight finishes, and a single seam construction). Of course, leather is a material synonymous with Ferragamo’s heritage – and, as Andrew points out, so is the use of technology. “What we sometimes forget after all this time is that Salvatore Ferragamo was a great innovator; his designs were groundbreaking both in terms of the shape and also the fabrications used,” he says. “He was an inventor, and before it became a heritage luxury fashion company, his company was to shoes what Google is to the internet today.”

In the costumes for Gattaca, Atwood also took advantage of the technological advancements of the materials available to her in the 1990s, where function met form. “The 1990s saw a place of more solids and minimalism,” says Atwood. “There were a lot of new materials to embrace, so it was slicker and more understated.” Similarly, it is the materials used in Ferragamo A/W21 that are the true marker of its futurism. “Sustainability is also very much front of mind for us when creating collections,” says Andrew. “We work to advance this with every season, and this time we’ve used sustainably sourced chrome-free tanned leathers along with other plant-based and recycled fabrications.” This also includes shoe soles part-made from wood sourced at certified responsibly managed forestry, and polyester made from post-consumer recycled materials. 

Reflecting the clothing she created for Gattaca, and also some of the messaging in Ferragamo A/W21, Atwood predicts that simplicity will be the key to the way we might uphold these values in the future. After all, uniform dressing arguably equals sustainable dressing. “I think a lot of people will realise that they have too many clothes, and gravitate towards only a few,” she says. “As the choices we have narrow, so will the simplicity of dressing. The Ferragamo collection takes on the sustainability of that message and creates timeless fashion – both beautiful and relaxed at the same time.”