“I am generally hired to design the outfits and costumes for films with sleek characters,” says designer Luca Mosca, “roles than need to convey extreme elegance.”
And that’s no understatement. Mosca’s resume reads like a catalogue of the best suited and booted actors there are. He tailored suits for Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman in 2013 thriller Paranoia. He decked out the entire US Secret Service – Dennis Quaid and Matthew Fox included – for 2008’s Vantage Point.
But perhaps the designer’s finest hour – and indeed one he has recently revisited – is helping Keanu Reeves suit up to play the titular and ultra-violent protagonist of assassin flick John Wick.
The costumes are seemingly as simple as the contract killer’s name, but there is much more going on with the tailored, three-piece dark suits than meets the eye.
“My costume design process is based on collaboration with the others involved in the process,” explains Mosca, “so I worked very closely with the director of the John Wick films, Chad Stahelski, and Keanu himself, who trusted my sense of colour and proportion.
“I think that, as I had to create suits just for Keanu, that I obsessed more on the tailoring than many specific labels and designers would when creating a line – it had to fit to perfection!”
Mosca didn’t want to veer too far from his original designs for the costumes of John Wick: Chapter 2 – the sequel to the original 2014 film. Instead, he says that rather than changing the suit, he used the opportunity to progress and refine the designs.
“It was an upgrade of sorts on the costuming from the first film – a chance to ‘clean’ those initial suits even further. You have to keep the template of the first film, as that is one with the character – and had been well-received the first time round – but you can always make improvements.
“And there are so many secrets in the suits!” reveals Mosca. “As boring as it may sound, safety always comes first, so I often had to allow room for pads and anything else Keanu had to wear to protect himself during stunts or fight scenes.
“And, due to the action-packed nature of the film, the suits are full of tiny slivers of fabric called ‘gussets’, which I had to insert into a suit sleeve or trouser leg to allow them to extend without ripping the material. That can be tricky – as all of this had to be done without compromising the accurate proportions of the costume.”
Mosca – who cameos in the film as John Wick’s tailor, discussing and fitting the assassin with his high-tech suit – also reveals that the suits – despite looking incredibly dark – aren’t actually black.
“They do look black, but it was actually only the suit worn in the second film during the Rome sequence that is black. Because of film lighting and the exposure on dark night scenes, eyes can often be misled with the darkest of fabrics. For this reason, most of Keanu’s suits are in dark shades of grey.”
And it is this block colour and simplicity that Mosca wanted, to almost make Wick look like a shadow. But that’s not to say there can’t be small bursts of colour and interest as well.
“In terms of accessorising,” Mosca says, “I wanted to keep the outfits clean and simple. That way, the little touch of a cufflink or tie bar would really pop. For example, the ‘Rome’ suit was all-black, but the cufflink a vivid red – an almost invisible, but incredibly powerful, detail.
“And, to finish it off, I also chose a Carl F Butcherer watch – the Manero AutoDate – as they are simply beautiful timepieces. They are incredibly elegant and clean at the same time – and that was exactly my aim with John Wick’s suit.”