Timothy Everest The Suit As Armour 1
24th January 2021

The Suit As Armour

Our Tailoring in Eyes Wide Shut

Twenty two years after it was released, Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut remains as enigmatic as ever. We take a look at the suiting we made for the principal character played by Tom Cruise, and how the tailoring informs his character in the film.

When Tom Cruise originally signed on for what would be the last film Stanley Kubrick ever worked on, it was ‘only’ supposed to be a six month shoot. For an established action star fresh off the success of the ongoing Mission Impossible franchise, this choice of darker, more adult material, especially in the hands of the notoriously oblique Kubrick raised a few eyebrows. The gruelling production ended up taking up the next year and a half of both Cruise and then wife Nicole Kidman’s lives. Ultimately the intense stress of Kubrick’s working conditions and methodical exactitude was rumoured to be one of the major factors in the break up of their relationship less than two years later. The film’s central themes of insecurity and infidelity providing an ironic backdrop for their real life story.

Twenty two years on the film remains as enigmatic as it upon release. The story of a handsome successful doctor, Bill Harford, and his wife’s marital life, their jealousies, temptations and dishonesties leading them to dark places in literal and metaphorical senses. Whilst most images of the film’s costumes focus on Dr Harford’s cloak and mask disguise he dons for the clandestine ball which forms the centrepiece of the film, his smart tailored clothes, made by us here at Timothy Everest, go a long way to establishing just what kind of image of a man the character is trying to project to the world. 

Cruise’s bankable movie star looks seem superfluous to Kubrick’s vision of the character, a fact borne out by his original casting suggestions for the role: Woody Allen and Bill Murray. It could be argued that Cruise’s boyish charms could actually hinder the role’s believability, a situation the wardrobe choice no doubt helps counter. The conservatively masculine, unfussy tailoring in dark hues ground the character in gravitas; this is a serious man projecting an outward sense of control and calm, despite his inner demons. The generous drape and built up shoulders of his suit, tuxedo and overcoat transform the actor’s slight frame with command and presence. But just like the Venetian cape and mask he is forced to take off to reveal his identity, this is a disguise; armour against an inner life plagued by doubt and unease

The film’s costumer Marit Allen tells a story about the great auteur himself. Whilst in the “joys and pains” of the 18 month production, every day he would swing past her desk to check progress and steal an apple from the fruit bowl to ferret away into one of the many pockets of his trademark photographer’s jacket. One day she asked him “Stanley – why do you always wear that jacket?” It’s my walking office… I have 28 of them” came his typically eccentric response.