Brilliantly 1980s: Jessica Chastain Reveals How Her Armani Costumes Came Together for A Most Violent Year in This Video

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There's something beautifully captivating about the fashion in A Most Violent Year, which takes us on a sartorial trip back to 1981 New York City—one of the most dangerous and crime-filled years in the Big Apple's history. The film tells the thrilling story of Abel Morales (played by Oscar Isaac) and his wife Anna (portrayed by Jessica Chastain), an immigrant family trying to expand their business and capitalize on opportunities as the rampant violence, decay, and corruption that they live in drag them down and threaten to destroy all they have built.

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Intrigued? We're taking you behind the scenes for a look at just how the film's costumes (a major '80s fashion fix) came together in a featurette that includes interviews with the movie's stars Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac, along with director J.C. Chandor, costume designer Kaisha Walicka-Maimone, InStyle’s Fashion News Director Eric Wilson, Yahoo Style Editor-in-Chief Joe Zee, and InStyle Editor-at-Large Hal Rubenstein.

"With a period film like this it becomes even more important that the movie not just become the hits of the era," Chandor says of the style choices. "You sort of had people culturally leaving the '70s behind. It was a really beautiful kind of transition time for fashion and art and culture and music."

Much of those changes—at least when it came to fashion—were led by Giorgio Armani, who actually dressed Chastain's character for the role. "Mr. Armani was on the cover of Time magazine at that time, he was such a huge designer," Chastain shares in reference to the 1980s. "He invited us to the archives in Milan, and it was an incredible experience to be able to go through and create Anna's wardrobe."

PHOTOS: See Celebrities Wearing Giorgio Armani Designs

And, when it came to her character, Chastain knew exactly what her sartorial choices had to embody. "Anna is a woman who is power hungry, and 1981 was a man's world. Her way of gaining power is to present herself as this force to be reckoned with," says Chastain. "We're talking about a moment when a lot of women were entering the workforce," Wilson adds. "They wanted to be taken seriously at their jobs." This type of drive is exactly how the Chandor envisioned Anna, and her costumes in the flick definitely drive the point home: "She's a person who is really striving to be a part of this kind of American dream." Chandor says. "She's recreating what she thinks that sort of success is."

Watch the video above to get all the scoop on the film's costumes, and see A Most Violent Year when it hits theaters today.

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SHOW TRANSCRIPT

[MUSIC] The Most Violent Year is at the end of the year 1981. I mean, we are coming out of Charley's Angels and into Dynasty. It is the era of Flash Dance. Joan Collins like Linda Evans era. We remember what came through in the popular culture. That was you couldn't get a shoulder high enough, mall fashion and bright sportswear. With a period film like this, it becomes even more important that the movie not just become the hits of the era. You sort of had people culturally leaving the 70s behind. It was a really beautiful kind of transition time for fashion and art and culture and music. I'm friends with Roberta Armani. Mr. Armani was on the cover of Time magazine at the time. He was such a huge designer. And he invited us to the archives in Milan. And it was an incredible experience to be able to go through and create Anna's wardrobe. We managed to come with a really great look of a woman who was very interested in. Specific designer. Anna's a woman who is power hungry. And 1981's a man's world. And her way of gaining power is to present herself as this force to be reckoned with. We're talking about a moment when a lot of women were entering the workforce. They wanted to be taken seriously. Misleading their jobs. As sexual as it was in the 70's, by the time they got to the 80's, it was really about finding power in who they were. So that's where really the power suit came from. She's a person who is really striving to be a part of this kind of American dream. She's recreating what she thinks that sort of success is. Armani put that very strong, powerful woman that was all about that wide belt with the cinched waist. A strong shoulder. The idea of you walked in, looking like basically you own the world. It's not a brick through a car window. This is your kid playing with a loaded gun. If you wanna talk about one color that was signature of the 80s, I'm gonna say it was beige, tan, and camel and all those colors. When you see Oscar Isaac wearing a camel coat, he was wearing that everywhere. Because that was the color that men were gravitating towards. Where it's all the bell suits, or handmade, and it was very integral to playing this character. Presentation is everything to him, so he wears his suits as suits of armor. Everything about what we're wearing is how we want to present to the world, and sometimes what we're presenting to the world is opposite to how we really are, and I felt that was definitely true with Autumn. When it feels scary to jump, Ian. That is exactly when you jump. It isn't just what they're wearing, it's who that woman is, and there are so many things that go into that. I loved Jessica's character in the bathrobe coat. I loved her in the silk blouses which is such a carryover from the 70s, but then when worn with a pencil skirt and heels takes it to the 80s. Even when she was wearing jeans and a shirt and lying on a sofa it was so definitive of that era. [INAUDIBLE] You know, I'd work with all of my actors to build who these characters are. And we built out these fun costume elements and story elements, just working with them, and kind of building exactly who these people are. It was a wonderful experience. [MUSIC]
 
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