While 1999 may not seem that long ago, there are stylistic differences in fashion and clothing that had to be observed and followed for those working behind the scenes on A Walk Among the Tombstones. Based on Lawrence Block’s best-selling series of mystery novels, the film tells the story of private investigator Matthew Scudder (Liam Neeson), who is hired by drug kingpin Kenny Kristo (Dan Stevens) to find out who kidnapped and murdered Kristo’s wife.
Costume designer Betsy Heimann’s challenge was to design a 1999-inspired look that was also timeless. For Scudder’s character, she created a dark uniform of sorts. “Scudder’s a guy who’s down on himself,” offers the designer. “You don’t want to see him changing his clothes all the time, and it should feel like he’s wearing the same thing without exactly doing that. I wanted him to have that mock turtleneck, that Sean Connery nod to the ’90s.”
Heimann created distinct looks for the drug dealers who portray themselves as legitimate working professionals. “The challenge was to give them just a bit of the drug edge, but they were in their own world of thinking they looked like regular people,” says Heimann.
For the character Yuri, a Russian drug dealer, the designer went for a European feel. “The jogging suit was big in the late ’90s as outerwear,” she says. “So we had a Fila jogging suit and very clean sneakers and a gold Russian cross and ring for when he walked the dog. In other scenes, he is in a fitted leather jacket and acid-washed pants.”
The character of drug dealer Reuben Quintana is an actor in his spare time. “He’s thinks he is very hip,” says Heimann. “Khakis were very hip in the ’90s. It wasn’t that big of a jean period. It was more of a trouser period, and pleats were still in. So he has his khakis and is flying under the radar by being very preppy.”
Dressing Kenny’s drug-addicted brother, Peter, Heimann went in a different direction. “The character is definitely more on the grunge end of the ’90s, with a nod to Kurt Cobain. He is also a painter who sleeps in his clothes and has a rumpled look. We wanted him to look like he’d been doing drugs and his clothes were falling off of him. He was getting skinnier and skinnier.”
TJ, a homeless character who befriends Scudder, is dressed in layers. “He probably only has some clothes that either were given to him or he scrounged from the Salvation Army,” says Heimann. “He’s more of the ’90s in that his clothes are very big and baggy. If he took some of the layers off, you’d see his pants are basically falling off his body. I dressed him in lots of layers because he never knew when he’d have to sleep outside or where he was going to be.”
A Walk Among the Tombstones is available starting Jan. 13 on Video On Demand. Check your cable system for availability.
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