Costuming for musicals is never easy.
It creates some interesting design challenges, like “How do you create a suit that allows full movement?” and “How do you get fake blood out of 100% wool?”
Katrina Lindsay, costume designer for “American Psycho: The Musical”, which features a cast full of Wall Streeters dressed to the nines, confronted those exact questions.
“Because it is live action that unfolds in front of an audience and has to be repeated night after night, we have to find clever ways of achieving effects in an easily repeatable way,” Lindsay told Business Insider, adding that the clothes have to look “great and appropriate” but they also have to be constructed in a robust way to stand up to everyday use.
“We create a kind of massacre on stage and the clothes need to be able to sustain that every night,” she said.
Oh, and as for the blood stains in the wool — two words: dry cleaning. For other pieces, like the infamous raincoat, there are two versions: one normal and one blood-splattered.
The suits worn in the show — which is set in the late ’80s — are all vintage designer labels. They’re mostly double-breasted, pinstriped “power suits” like those in the character’s position might wear. Lindsay said that it was important to get the details right, like the men’s ties, glasses, watches, and shoes.
“The juxtaposition of the luxury of the items [Bateman] loves and the gruesome acts he can perform on people is key to the narrative of the story,” Lindsay told us.
To achieve that, they partnered with high-end menswear e-retailer Mr. Porter, sourcing modern and appropriate accessories for the suiting.
Bateman’s suits — as worn by actor Benjamin Walker — are bespoke by a tailor that has been outfitting Wall Streeters since the 1980s, and modelled after styles that were popular in that time.
So what can a man dressing for today’s Wall Street environment take away from the play?
“The importance of getting it right; that attention to detail that matters; the fact others notice more than you might imagine,” Jeremy Langmead, the brand and content director for Mr. Porter, told us.
Though the play’s ’80s-inspired looks, like double-breasted jackets and billowing pants, have since gone out of style, Langmead says it’s important to note the context and the differences in menswear through such a short period of time.
“You can also see how the subtle differences that menswear goes through can eventually make a huge difference in how you look and feel,” he told us. “The difference between a double-breasted suit then and now — shorter coat, softer shoulders, slimmer fit — transforms … [it] from the feel of aggressive armour to confident collaborator.”