There have been mysterious feats of gravity-defiance in movies -- but few so eye-catching as how Amy Adams' deep, deep V-neck blouses in David O. Russell's American Hustle manage to stay put and cover her braless torso.
"The '70s were such a liberating time for women," says Hustle costume designer Michael Wilkinson (Man of Steel, Babel), "we wanted to project her confidence but also [her character] Sydney's naked vulnerability." Adams' opening-scene apricot deep V-blouse was an actual Halston that Wilkinson excavated from the Halston building's basement archives. "The staying-on is partly due to a generous and carefully placed sprinkle of double-stick tape." So how did she avoid nip slips? Says Wilkinson: "She carried herself in a very specific way to keep us within an R rating. Amy has amazing poise. Let's just say she studied how to move and never forgot about it."
Meanwhile, Wilkinson and his team scoured the country for vintage pieces and went to costume houses and flea markets all over the U.S. "But in the end, I did make a lot for Sidney Prosser from scratch. The macrame monokini she wears in the beginning of the movie started with a vintage piece, which didn't really fit -- so we made one for Amy. The gunmetal gray, sequined, tight disco dress I also made from scratch, from sheer, hugging fabric. We knew when heads were turning on set, we had something special. I also built Jennifer Lawrence's white dress in that scene from scratch."
How did Adams -- normally a rather modest dresser -- feel about being half naked the whole movie? "She got herself into incredible shape," says Wilkinson. "She had a trainer and worked out like a fiend. She's such a chameleon, and was committed two thousand percent -- she has no ego. She just wanted to tell the story in a strong, compelling way. And David pushed her to go as far as she could."
This story first appeared in the Jan. 3, 2014, issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.