By the Sea, the third directorial feature from Vogue November cover star Angelina Jolie Pitt, isn’t a walk in the park any way you slice it. Pare away the dreamy, ’70s South of France backdrop and the almost tangible glamour of the film’s leads and you’re left with a turbulent portrait of a collapsing marriage, brought to life by Jolie Pitt and her real-life husband, Brad Pitt. (Filming off Malta came hot on the heels of their nuptials.) The film’s tearstains and tempestuousness are underscored by the placidly sumptuous costumes, a visual feast served up in part by costume designer Ellen Mirojnick, whose past credits range from Face/Off to The Knick. We caught up with her by phone on location in Cambodia, where Jolie Pitt’s forthcoming endeavor, First They Killed My Father, a true-life account of life under the Khmer Rouge, is in production. Below, Mirojnick talks about why French style works, dressing Jolie Pitt after Jane Birkin, and what it’s really like to work with Hollywood’s most famous couple.
What was your preparation for the film like? How did you immerse yourself in those characters?
Aside from talking to the director and trying to understand the vision that Angie had and what she wanted to accomplish—I always use images to delve into a time period or a vibe. In this case, the late-’60s, early-’70s South of France. It was all thrilling to look at it because it’s so classic and glamorous and of its own time. Jane Birkin, Serge Gainsbourg, Charlotte Rampling, Peter Sellers even, Brigitte Bardot. Looking at those images, it just brings back a surge of je ne sais quoi, of absolute chic.