Suzy Benzinger

Fashion in Film: Blue Jasmine (2013)

Would you stop staring at my luggage? Yes, it’s Louis Vuitton!

When costume designer Suzy Benzinger began to plan the wardrobe for Blue Jasmine, her fifth movie with director Woody Allen, she panicked. Allen wanted only the best for Cate Blanchett’s downtrodden socialite character — Chanel, Hermès, Louis Vuitton — all on a budget of $35,000.

“When I read the script, panic set in,” Benzinger said. “I thought, there is no way this film can be done. Ultimately, I just lay myself at the feet of the designers. I was on the phone all day begging.”

Two essentials for Blanchett’s character were her Chanel jacket and Hermès Birkin bag. Benzinger studied the way female celebrities carry their bags like a shield in front of their bodies, a habit which Jasmine possesses throughout the film. Hermès was more than happy to allow Benzinger to have her pick of Birkins (quite a feat given the bag’s cost and mile-long waiting list). Karl Lagerfeld was also willing to provide the classic tweed jacket seen on Blanchett in multiple scenes.

“We called Karl Lagerfeld in the middle of the Paris collections and, I have to say, he was an angel,” Benzinger said. “Chanel phoned back immediately and asked, ‘Which one do you want?’ I actually drew out a Chanel jacket, if you can believe it. I said, 'This one.’ And the package arrived in two days.”

However, Benzinger hit a snag when Louis Vuitton was not as forthcoming to provide the film’s pièce de résistance. She needed the iconic luggage set, but the brand refused unless they could read the script ahead of time (a big no-no). Fortunately, Blanchett had just opened a Louis Vuitton store in Australia and, after a month of begging, managed to persuade the brand to donate the items that served as Jasmine’s last connection to her old life.

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Café Society (2016) - Kristen Stewart as Vonnie wearing a dark red satin dress with short balloon sleeves, pleated organza collar, double row of buttons on the bodice and thin belt. The accessories include mary-jane pumps, her trademark satin ribbon as headband and white wrist gloves.

The costumes were designed by Suzy Benzinger.

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‘Cafe Society’: How Chanel Re-Created 1930s Fashion and Diamond Jewelry for Blake Lively, Kristen Stewart

Costume designer Suzy Benzinger worked exclusively with Chanel to create custom looks for Kristen Stewart — a face of the brand who plays a 1930s secretary — and a slew of glittering retro-style diamonds for Blake Lively, who portrays a Manhattan socialite.
Benzinger, a seven-time Allen alum, pored over Chanel archives to find pieces for Stewart. “In the 20th century, Chanel was the epitome of style, luxury and glamour,” says Benzinger, who chose two period dresses in cream and pink-peach to be re-created by the luxury brand’s Paris studio. “The job was easy: Put an elegant, simple dress on an actress, accessorize with a brooch or earrings — instant glamour! That’s the genius of Coco Chanel.” Says Benzinger, “I was lucky that Chanel agreed to bring back pieces inspired by ones [Coco] Chanel designed at that time.”

I got quite a few phone calls asking about the Carolina Herrera, one-shoulder red dress. It’s so funny because Cate in the full-length in that dress… you would not imagine in a million years how spectacular she looked. She was standing on set in that dress, and everyone —  every crew member, everyone —  was like, oh my god. Even when Alec Baldwin saw her, he was like, “I hope I remember my lines!”

When Woody saw all of those reactions from everyone, he was smart to only shoot her from the waist up. It was a pivotal scene where she confronts Alec’s character, she realizes he’s cheating.  It’s not important she looked incredible in the dress. The audience’s brain would’ve gone to, I’ve never seen anyone look this beautiful in my life, instead of going to Cate’s dialogue, which is the most important thing. For Woody that’s real life.

—  Suzy Benzinger