July 2009

Tastemakers 2009 Arianne Phillips

by Andrew Harmon / produced by Mayer Rus / portrait by Peden + Munk

Arianne Phillips In the hands of the right designer, costumes can illuminate onscreen characters with jarring and immediate elegance. Phillips, the Oscar-nominated costume designer for Walk the Line, who’s also behind the looks for 3:10 to Yuma and Hedwig and the Angry Inch, is renowned for creating images that endure in one’s memory—often longer than the tautest lines of a great screenplay.

Tom Ford, the groundbreaking fashion designer, thought so much of Phillips’ work he tapped her to do the costumes for his directorial debut, an upcoming adaptation of Christopher Isherwood’s 1964 novel A Single Man, starring Colin Firth and Julianne Moore. In characteristically discreet style, Phillips is mum on the details of what has long been Ford’s passion project, but she is quick to say that working with the fashion giant was a career highlight.

Known for her fluency in both costume design and print-editorial styling— a rare combination of talents she credits to an early immersion in New York fashion circles—Phillips has an aesthetic that consistently defies the safe and expected. “Pretty” often takes a backseat to thoughtful historical reference and liberal experimentation—most vividly in her dazzlingly fertile 12-year collaborative relationship with Madonna, which has paid off handsomely for both artists. “I really do take my cues from her,” Phillips says. “She’s not at all bothered by what people think.”