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'Silver Linings Playbook' costume designer on dressing Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper for their big dance number

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Image Credit: Jojo Whilden

Silver Linings Playbook star Jennifer Lawrence may have doubted her ability to learn the fancy footwork required for the film’s climactic ballroom dance routine, but when it came to wearing white spandex and sequins, costume designer Mark Bridges says the actress showed no fear.

“[Director] David O. Russell showed me some rehearsal footage of Bradley and Jennifer and said, ‘Jennifer looks so sexy here, this is such a great look for her.’ She was wearing an exercise top and some low riding pedal pushers. That was the inspiration for it,” Bridges told EW at last night’s Costume Designers Guild Awards in L.A. “We [made an outfit] with that same shape, adding sparkly lace and sleeves because that would be the kind of thing that Jennifer’s character would have done.”

While Lawrence had no problem wearing body-conscious clothes, Bridges — who won the Oscar for Best Costume Design for his work on The Artist – said she did have concerns about an important element of her performance costume. “It was the shoes,” he remembered. “[She'd ask,] ‘Are these too high or too weird?’”

Dressing Lawrence’s dance partner, however, involved a little more trial and error.

“For most of the film, we kept Bradley in over-sized clothes, more working class. But I felt that, for the blooming of their romance and the big climax of the film, he should look like a movie star,” Bridges said of the thinking behind the ballroom ensemble for Bradley Cooper’s character, whose wardrobe staples are a Philadelphia Eagles jersey and a garbage bag. “I [had chosen] a Versace suit made of stretch wool, but he didn’t end up wearing it.”

Instead, Cooper’s instinct was to go with a more casual look, which the costume designer agreed was the right move. “We had a great back and forth. Both Bradley and Jennifer were open to things I would bring to the table, and when they had ideas, I was happy to hear them,” Bridges explained. “They had to be able to really perform in front of the camera.”

In the end, Bridges the costumes, the choreography and the chemistry between Lawrence and Cooper? “You can’t take your eyes off of them.”

–Reporting by Lindzi Scharf

Follow Bronwyn on Twitter: @BronwynBarnes

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