Windfall stylist and costume designer Megan Gray explains how she crafted this very specific outfit.
By Diedre Johnson
Let’s say you’re a costume designer, and you have to style one single look for an actor to wear for an entire film. Let’s say that the actor is Lily Collins, and her character’s name is Wife. No, really. Enter Megan Gray, the mastermind behind Windfall’s meticulous wardrobe choices and designer who was able to get away with Collins’ singular Wife look.
“Logistically, it’s amazing only having to do one look, but the weight of one look, [and] not being able to tell a character’s arc — you really have to tell and show everything you’re trying to get across in one story, in one moment,” Gray tells Tudum. “And there’s a lot of pressure.”
To refine Wife’s look, Gray worked extensively with Collins and writer-director-producer Charlie McDowell (who’s also Collins’ husband) about the character’s backstory, using mood boards and drawing inspiration from the idea of a woman feeling trapped in her new life. Over the course of two fittings, the group eventually settled on Lily’s character wearing a fitted, open-necked black silk patterned blouse with a beige blazer and black jeans. The aim was to show off Collins’ figure with clothes that were high-end but casual.
According to Gray, Wife was a “free spirit” before she married the CEO, and they wanted to maintain nods to that past life in her wardrobe. “We wanted it to feel a little playful, and I think we did that through the cream shoes against an all-black look, and have a bit of that free spirit in that single note of one costume,” Gray says. The shoes that Gray refers to are a pair of noticeable Bottega Veneta square-toe flats, which McDowell pans to in several pivotal scenes. So it was an important choice for Gray — and for Collins — to have a really specific shoe that tells Wife’s story. “This is someone who didn’t know they were going to end up in this situation,” Collins tells Tudum. So [it] needs to feel like there’s an element [that is] obviously unplanned, but also slightly uncomfortable, in this situation. So wearing a silk top and these flats that are beautiful and beige when you’re running through the house of blood… it needs to be exactly the opposite of what one would assume.”
“There’s something young yet sophisticated about a really interesting, more fashion-forward flat,” Gray adds. “I liked that the color was this weird, yellowish ecru color, and the shape — there was a simplicity to it, but something that felt very new. It really also showcased the tattoo on her foot that we were going to dress.” Gray emphasizes that the choice behind the shoe is really emulating the character herself. “To me, that shoe showed everything about the wife that we wanted people to feel: We wanted them to feel that there was something classic. There was something about looking the part but also keeping who they are as an individual.”
Gray explains that the CEO and Wife characters are young people who made their own lives; they have money that’s not from generational wealth. “It’s young people coming into a lifestyle and into a world that they’ve created for themselves and not something that they grew up being a part of,” she says. “So, it wasn’t about being preppy. It wasn’t about looking like you were in Northeast Harbor. It was our own version of what that would look like.”
For Collins, the Ojai, California, location provided just the right atmosphere for the cast and crew. “You can immerse yourself in nature. You can be by the beach in [a] matter of minutes. You can be in the mountains. It’s very spiritual, and it was a really special place to have this film and this experience.”