You might know your cropped flares from your bomber jackets, but do you know your cheaters from your ground gabbers? If the latter terms don’t sound familiar, we don’t blame you: They’re actually fashion slang used in the ’30s. (Cheaters are sunglasses, and ground grabbers are shoes, by the way.)
To help transport us to that bygone era, we couldn’t think of anyone better than the lovely Lily Collins. We enlisted her help to give you a rundown of the time period’s best slang—and show off plenty of sumptuous fashion inspired by the decade, of course. So why is she especially fitting? She stars in Amazon’s new show The Last Tycoon, which takes place in 1930s Hollywood and features amazing retro clothes and accessories. We chatted with Collins to get the scoop on her character, her favorite wardrobe moments from the show, and more.
WHO WHAT WEAR: How would you explain The Last Tycoon to someone?
LILY COLLINS: The Last Tycoon is about Hollywood in the 1930s. Specifically, it’s about the head of a studio, Pat Brady, and his right-hand man, Monroe Stahr, and how they run their studio together, the creative side and the money side. I play Celia Brady, who is Pat’s daughter and is madly in love with Monroe Stahr. She’s a go-getter in college and knows that she wants to be in this industry behind the scenes and work her way up and become a mogul of sorts of her own. But she’s a female, and women in the 1930s normally were not known to do that.
WWW: What do you love about the beauty and fashion of the ’30s?
LC: I just love that everyone was put together all the time for anything, no matter if it was to go out and buy groceries or to go to the theater or driving in your car to have a picnic. You dress to the nines and everything matched, and you had hats and accessories to go with it all. [The silhouettes] really accentuated a woman’s body, and everything looked so eloquently made. Even the lesser expensive items just looked so beautiful. I think there was a real magic to the outfits.
WWW: What was it like working with costume designer Janie Bryant on this project?
LC: This was only the pilot, so I hope to get to collaborate more with her. It was kind of like a major tease! I was a huge fan of her work before, obviously withMad Men. I think it’s really interesting how one can do a period piece and not make it feel to caricature-y, and she just makes it looks so natural. She lives and breathes for vintage and clothing and costumes. She would pick out colors and patterns that I normally wouldn’t gravitate toward, but then the second I put it on, I thought, Oh my god, I would have never chosen this, but you nailed it! She got my character right away, and I felt the second I had my fitting with her I got who Celia was. It really plays a huge role in the creation of the character.
WWW: If you could take home any piece in Celia’s wardrobe, what would it be and why?
LC: Oh my! I did love that purple [dress] at the end that I wear with the white collar. All the hats were so adorable as well. Now with my hair color being what it is, it would be a whole different ball game.
WWW: What about from our video shoot? Was there a look you loved?
LC: Yes, I want everything! That last black dress with the fringe, that was pretty darn amazing. My favorites were the black one at the end and that first outfit with the shorts and the I’m-just-casually-waking-up-like-this robe. I think that would be my favorite to walk around randomly in.
WWW: On set, you mentioned that you discovered a new side of your style. Can you elaborate on that a bit?
LC: I find that with every film that I do, my style changes slightly, whether it’s more vintage or edgy or more bohemian. And this hair is actually for a film called Okja. So this is not for Tycoon, but it’s weird to have had this hair for now about five weeks but only to have been in the zone of that film, which is not glamorous at all. I haven’t experimented with it yet, even styling, so to walk into this shoot today with this styling, I was created into this whole character that was never intended. It’s like this is a cool, modernized, alien-like 1930s vibe, which I’m really digging. Maybe that we’ll seep into how I manipulate my wardrobe.
WWW: Fashion is such a big part of your job, but is it something that is a big part of your everyday life?
LC: Fashion is something I’ve loved since I was little. I used to want to be a fashion designer, and I would draw all the time.
WWW: If you could relive the fashion from any decade, what would it be and why?
LC: I think the 1950s because it was vast. You had the black high-waisted pants with the little tied crop tops and ballet flats, you had the beautiful cinched-in summer dresses, and you had the more glamorous poufy ball gowns and jewelry and red lips. Women were just starting to wear pantsuits. I love the androgyny as well as the femininity that the ’50s portrayed. I used to hate high-waisted things, only low-rise, and now I love a good high-waisted anything. It’s so feminine and also, in a way, more comfortable because you feel put together.