Luca Guadagnino’s Io Sono L'amore (I Am Love) is a lavish love letter not just to the transformative power of passion, but to cinema itself. From the opulent setting of upper-class Milan at the turn of the 21st century, to John Adams’s sweeping,
Luca Guadagnino’s Io Sono L'more (I Am Love) is a lavish love letter not just to the transformative power of passion, but to cinema itself. From the opulent setting of upper-class Milan at the turn of the 21st century, to John Adams’s sweeping score, the movie pays homage to the films of Visconti, Douglas Sirk and Hitchcock, but, aided by a fearless performance from its luminous star Tilda Swinton, remains utterly timeless. The visual texture of Guadagnino’s sumptuous movie owes much to the ensembles devised by costume designer Antonella Cannarozzi, who first came to work with the director on the 2005 adaptation of Melissa P. “We liked each other from the beginning; we shared the same love for movies, action, and a lot of the same ideas on how a project should be managed, the love for manic researching, the images – and then, of course, we loved the fashion!” For I Am Love, Guadagnino instructed Cannarozzi to start with the colour palette. Says Cannarozzi: “Starting with chromatic research is usual for me, but in this movie the colours had to beat the rhythm of the drama.” So we get neutral colours at the beginning when Swinton’s character, Emma Recchi, walks the streets of Milan, a Russian avatar blending into her surroundings; luscious tangerine and scarlet red for when she is in the throes of her love affair; and ashen tones for when tragedy befalls her at the film’s climax.
Making the film was a chance for Cannarozzi to indulge in her favourite pastime of watching old movies, and she is candid about the explicit references to Hitchcock’s Vertigo in I Am Love. But far from slipping into period drama, the movie was brought joltingly to the present with Cannarozzi’s collaboration with two eminent fashion houses – Fendi and Jil Sander. While Fendi tailor-made the suits for the male characters in “the family style”, the women of the story were a different matter. “Emma is precious and essential like Russian art,” says Cannarozzi. “Opposite to her is the mother-in-law played by Marisa Berenson, who has memories of a fashionable France and of Viennese gold, so most of her wardrobe is plundered from Hermès and some from the historic archive of Fendi, like the mink cape.” To help tell the story of Emma, Cannarozzi enlisted the help of Raf Simons, the creative director for Jil Sander – an experience she describes as inspiring. “Ours was a total collaboration. Before starting he wanted to look at all my research material, then we began confronting ourselves. We looked at old and new toiles, changing shapes and proportions to make them more feminine, [and] we sampled colours and fabrics – it was a fantastic experience!”
While she already has two new films due for release, Missione di Pace and a Saverio Costanzo-helmed project, Cannarozzi is looking forward to her next project with Guadagnino. “I am really fond of this movie and what it represents. Sincerely, it was an extraordinary encounter.”
Translation: Cecilia Fossati