When In Milan...

The Sets and Costumes of "I Am Love"

I Am Love explores the lavish world of the Recchi family, whose fictional home is the opulent Villa Necchi Campiglio. Off-screen the villa is part of the House Museums of Milan, and a popular tourist attraction, but in the film, set designer Francesca Di Mottola describes it as the “gilded cage in which Emma Recchi [Tilda Swinton] is imprisoned.” Di Mottola conducted detailed research into Art Deco interiors, in order to lend the landmark’s marbled floors and austere wooden halls a “lived-in” feel. Inspired by Tarkovski’s The Sacrifice and Bergman’s Fanny and Alexander, she matched the characters’ possessions to the rich color scheme of the building’s interiors, creating a bubble-world that surrounds and suffocates Emma. Where the villa signifies prestige, wealth and, in its sprawling gardens, Emma’s essential loneliness, the costumes of I Am Love tell their own story. Says costume designer Antonella Cannarozzi, “In an environment dominated by luxury, Emma had to be the supreme synthesis of luxury itself, yet purified by the trappings of power. She had to be an iconic image, solemn, like in Russian art.” The team tapped Raf Simons at Jil Sander for Swinton’s wardrobe, a succession of ultra-modern looks that mirrors Emma’s mental state as her character develops. “At the beginning,” says director Luca Guadagnino, “she is walking the streets of Milan, almost like a chameleon, dressed in the color palette of the buildings. Then she enters into this beautiful love affair and passion ignites her—and she expresses this outburst of joy and energy with very bright colors.” The male characters, meanwhile, wear sharp suits by Fendi, embodying what associate producer Silvia Venturini Fendi calls the “family style.”

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