From the leather-clad Danny in Grease to the disco-dressed Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever, John Travolta knows a thing or two about how a costume can define a character. But for his latest turn playing infamous mafia boss John Gotti in Gotti, Travolta learned the that, in some cases, the clothes really can make the man. In order to ensure every sartorial detail was just right, Travolta enlisted the help of his longtime personal designer Matteo Perin to handcraft the suits and tuxedos he would wear in the film, and we had a chance to catch up with Perin to learn what it was like transforming Travolta into a real life mob boss.
While the Verona-based Perin has a history working with high profile clients like Travolta around the globe, Gotti was his first costume designing experience. He signed onto the project relatively late, which meant he had to work overtime to study up on the life and style of the real Dapper Don. While the film is not a biopic, authenticity was key, and Perin made sure every detail — from the width of a suit shoulder to the placement of the buttons on a double-breasted tux — was considered.
“I had [to] do lots of research to make sure I understood the John Gotti role,” he told Us. “It was really important to recreate the different outfits as close to the situation that it was … I wanted it [so that] when someone looked at a picture, they looked the same.”
Perin obviously spent hours researching some of the more iconic looks, but he also got a bit of help from the Gotti family, who leant him accessories like pocket squares and ties from the late patriarch’s wardrobe to be used in the film. While Travolta is a tried-and-true professional with some five decades of acting experience, Perin believes those original touches helped get him in character.
“For me, it was interesting because it was a different situation to dress him for the film instead of regular life,” he said. “When we put on the John Gotti outfit … the clothing completed him. He could of course act like John Gotti, but the clothing really made him wholesome, you know, like one piece.”
And when it comes to dressing the Hollywood legend IRL, Perin said he loves that Travolta is up for experimenting with colors, pattern and texture — especially during his current trip to the 2018 Cannes Film Festival where Gotti premiered.
“I proposed to him that instead of going with more of the usual, let’s say, looks for America, that we make things feel like we’re in the south of France, and he loved the idea,” Perin shared. “So we played with some different colors … [and] there are casual pants, jackets, polos, sweaters. Anyway, we’re going see the next pictures in the next few days.”
If the dapper jeans, leather sneakers and sharp blazer combo Travolta wore to a photocall on the Riviera earlier this week is any indication of what’s to come in Cannes for the star, we’d say the style risk is paying off.
With reporting by Marc Lupo
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