'Blade Runner 2049' Already a Hit on the Fashion Runways

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Raf Simons Spring 2018

Collections are paying homage while the sci-fi sequel is being deemed a must-see: "I will be out there on opening day," says Opening Ceremony's Humberto Leon.

Thirty-five years after Blade Runner hit the big screen, Blade Runner 2049, opening Oct. 6, is the most hotly anticipated fashion film of the year. The retro-futuristic costumes from the original — designed by Michael Kaplan and Charles Knode, on sets conceptualized by visual futurist Syd Mead — blended 1940s noir and 1980s punk, creating a gritty-glam aesthetic that still influences fashion today. 

Pierre Hardy's fall Replicante shoe collection incorporates futuristic shapes and color-blocking, while Raf Simons' spring 2018 menswear collection at New York Fashion Week was a rain-gear and replicant homage in Manhattan's Chinatown.

“I will be out there, for sure, on opening day,” says Opening Ceremony designer Humberto Leon, who tapped Mead, the futurist for the original and the sequel, for a fashion collaboration in 2016.

Blade Runner 2049 costume designer Renee April (Arrival, Rise of the Planet of the Apes) admits the pressure was on, saying that director Denis Villeneuve wanted her to "hint at the same world but push it further. In the first film, it was raining and dark, but now it's raining and snowing and toxic and brutal."

This led April to focus on protective outerwear, including the coat with an exaggerated collar that is blade runner Ryan Gosling's signature piece: "It's not shearling, which would be too heavy, it's actually cotton that we laminated and painted over. It's indestructible. Sometimes we made things and they would be too beautiful, so we sent them out to be destroyed. There is not a lot of beauty in this world."

Jared Leto may be a fashion flamboyant in real life, but in the film, the replicant creator's look is more cybermonk, she says. "He has 50 of the same kimono-like garment. He's the Steve Jobs of this world." Mariette, a streetwalker who recalls Daryl Hannah's character Pris in the original, is edgier, wearing a manga-inspired pink plastic-and-fur coat. Instead of power shoulders for 2049's Sean Young-type character — Luv, played by Sylvia Hoeks — "she wears very simple lines," says April. "That's all for the story. Sometimes in sci-fi films, the costumes take up too much space. Here, there's no fluff."

Asked if the film's style will translate to runways, she says she's not sure: "When I saw the Raf Simons collection, it was so strange. Who wants to wear fur and plastic at the same time in real life? But it's a fun image."

A version of this story first appeared in the Oct. 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.