Cadillac Records Fashion
Becoming Etta James
follows legendary music artists, including Etta James (left, played by Beyonce), Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters, in the start of their careers with Chess Records. The tale of blues, rock and roll, sex, violence and addiction takes place in 1950s Chicago. Costume designer Johnetta Boone researched the era, the musicians and vintage couture collections to get a feel for the looks. She describes Etta's style as "boozy elegance"-glamorous with an edgy touch. For this look, she chose tapestry fabric "because the texture and form are symbolic of the time period" and the teal color because it's "moody like the blues."
Working with Vintage
This green dress, purchased from a vintage collection in New York, was the only dress that wasn't an original of Johnetta Boone's. The dress was reshaped to fit on Beyonce's curves. "She put on a few pounds so she wouldn't be seen as 'glam Beyonce' and more like her character," says Boone. The green color was chosen purposely to coordinate with the felt on the pool table, which Boone says symbolizes money.
The Strong, Silent Type
Gabrielle Union, left, plays Geneva, Muddy Water's loyal girlfriend. "Gabrielle is such a beauty and it was hard to play her down," says Boone. "Like her, I kept the color palette modest with browns and grays. What she wore and who she was were in the background. So her looks are a bit professional looking and sweet and honest."
In this scene, Etta is going to meet her father for the first time. "She wanted her father to see her as a successful woman and hot pink has strength to it," says Boone of the brightly colored dress. The vintage jewelry used in the movie is all from Boone's private collection, which she has amassed over the years from other movies that she worked on, like The Notebook.
The Prudent Wife
Emmanuelle Chriqui, left, plays Revetta Chess, the loyal wife to the record executive. "Her coat has a symbolic meaning," says Boone. "The slate color is for blues music and the swing coat has a wonderful flare at the bottom so it's flirty; she's still trying to win her husband even though he's strayed. And her blouse is buttoned up to show that she's the respectable wife and not willing to give up her man."
Columbus Short, as singer Little Walker, records an album, singing to his groupies to create an upbeat vibe. "They call them floozies," says Boone, who aimed for equally elegant looks for the men as the women. "I had a team of seamstresses who were working every moment of the day to create costumes."
"As time progresses, I used colors that pop more and weren't so moody," says Boone, who chose a pink scallop-necked dress for this scene at the end of the film, after Etta has hit rock bottom and bounced back to a better place. "She a little happier with herself and her life and the colors represent that."