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Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery finally hits Netflix this week. The long-awaited sequel follows detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) as he peels back the layers of his latest unsolved murder mystery, this time on a private island in Greece.
Read more: ‘Knives Out 2: Glass Onion’ Ending Explained
And while Glass Onion may have a new cast—among them Edward Norton, Leslie Odom Jr. and Dave Bautista— along with a new location, it is again written and directed by Rian Johnson and features costume design by the brilliant Jenny Eagan. In an interview with Men’s Health, Eagan shares her behind-the-scenes sartorial secrets. Which piece will replace Chris Evans’ infamous cable knit sweater? What was the inspiration behind Benoit’s stripes and silk scarves? How did they land on Dave Bautista’s speedo, sarong, and Crocs signature look? What really goes into making costumes for the entire Glass Onion cast? And of course, are there clues in the costumes?
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Men’s Health: Can you tell us more about the process for Glass Onion compared to its predecessor, Knives Out? Aside from Daniel Craig, it’s a new cast and a new location. What was that like for you as a costume designer?
Jenny Egan: I think it might have been more pressure had it been the same family or the same cast. It’s that much more exciting to understand, Where is this world that Rian has built? Literally and figuratively. Greece was exciting but preparing for this one, obviously with the pandemic, was a little bit different.
The first one we had little time: we probably had overall six weeks of prep, whereas this one was about nine. But I had the relationship with Daniel already, there’s all that kind of muddy water kind of out of the way. You know that character a little bit so you know how far you can go. As with the first film we weren’t sure who the others were right off the bat. I wasn’t told who they were until deals were done, as they say.
It’s interesting that you say that you didn’t know who the characters were because costume design plays such a huge part in that, right? Before a character even opens their mouth on screen, you see what they’re wearing and how they carry themselves.
Rian writes scripts in such a beautiful way that is very descriptive, although he really allows us as creatives to give our two cents. He gives you that space that is so welcome and rewarding. You have to take the characters on the page and build them and what you see when the cast starts coming in. There are tweaks once you meet somebody or have a fitting, and you understand their physical shape or how they’re going to play it. But sometimes even after you start shooting the actors start to move their gait and things click.
Read more: When Is Knives Out 3?
Daniel Craig’s matching striped sets and cravats are chef’s kiss. Can you tell us how you came to land on this ‘50s and ‘60s vibe for Benoit?
Daniel wanted to talk right away. He came with a couple different images: the films of Jacques Tati and Hitchcock’s How to Catch a Thief. His mind is so in that character–which is always welcomed because I can see what he’s feeling. Benoit Blanc is the same person, but he’s also a chameleon. It’s a very different climate, a very different scenario, and scenery. He’s molding himself to that.
Daniel said to me very early on, Benoit Blanc has been here before. He’s been to these places, he knows these people, and he’s got to mold himself to the different types of people that he’s meeting. And keeping it simple, you don’t want to stray too far. We had the ties from the first movie which had more of a floral theme. That’s where the cravat came from–we brought a lot of things to the table and let Daniel play. He’s got such amazing style himself so he’ll try anything. You just have to let them take a moment and see if it moves. Well these shoulders are great, but we love the pleats and the high waist. You try to mesh it into what fits that character. Then you build and you hope it fits.
Daniel looks fantastic. He just knows how to walk the walk and wear the clothes.
Unbelievable that he can step from James Bond into this character, which are two different beings, and just embody them both. He’s having so much fun! I think that really comes through to the audience. Rian sets that stage and it’s for all of us. There is not a bad day on set. It’s very well organized and professional. It’s a fun atmosphere, which makes it less stressful and just happy to be a part of.
That’s also what’s interesting about Rian containing these movies. Because they’re in it for such a long time, the clothes cannot be distracting. There’s a lot of dialogue that people have to kind of pay attention to. Rian welcomes you to try to solve it and gives you clues–which makes it really exciting.
Read more: This Glass Onion Easter Egg Foreshadowed That Major Twist
Were there any clues in the costumes?
I’ve tried that before and people are too smart! I’m worried that I’m going to give it away and I don’t want to be that person.
Were Daniel’s fabulous striped pieces and suits costumes that you made?
Yes, everything in the movie except a sweater and some of the neckerchiefs we made. The striped swimming costume, the suits, and all of his shirts–everything was made. We have to have multiples and now, as you know, you can’t get as much as you could even three to five years ago, however long we’ve been in this state. It’s interesting to make things a little differently because you can use period pieces. It’s also fun because you get to pick your fabrics.
You can tell that the costumes are an important part of the storytelling in this film. Edward Norton’s wardrobe plays a huge role for Miles’ character: he’s clearly never had an original idea in his life, and that sentiment extends to his wardrobe. Can you tell us about that backstory?
I spoke to Edward in the beginning, when I had never met or worked with him before. He’s so invested and so professional. He knows a lot of these Silicon Valley guys like the character he’s playing. They’re not Miles Brawn, but Edward knows gentlemen of that stature so he came with a lot of information. Which mainly was: it looks so simple. They have this knack to make it through life looking so incredibly normal, right? But yet everything is very, very expensive. It might be a t-shirt, but it’s the most expensive t-shirt you could find or it’s custom-made for him.
And then the suit that he wore at the beginning of the dinner was Armani. That gave him this really fine, simple line that was a little bit tech feeling. It wasn’t a wool, it wasn’t a cotton, it was a technical texture. He was leaning into that and everything in his wardrobe was kind of the same tone. Whether it was that light blue, very pale, blue/gray, it was about not standing out in a crowd. His ideas are big but he’s trying to keep it low and normal. While that was what we were going for, he was also like here I am playing guitar bought originally by John Lennon. It was his that he wrote this song on and then Miles just throws it away. We kept that costume just relaxed, like, Look how chill I am. But meanwhile, he’s changing the world. Or hoping to.
Have you seen the interviews where Edward Norton calls you the MVP? He speaks so highly of you.
Oh, does he? Daniel always says nice things. I would love to do it again. Let’s go back to Greece and start over. I just watched it again for the second time myself. What’s interesting is when Edward’s by the pool there’s a hat that he is wearing from Kelly Slater Surf Ranch. It’s a really big deal for these guys and they all go. It’s not cheap but it gives the illusion that they’re just hanging out surfing and being casual on the beach. And look! We got our free hat from it.
You had also mentioned scarves. Is Benoit Blanc an Hermès guy?
They were something we found on Etsy. They’re just these small, local people that make these beautiful bandanas, except the one from the dinner scene in the end that we made. I found some vintage silk fabric in my kit. Once we worked out what color the suits were and the shirts, we thought it might be really beautiful. After the sweater in the first movie–
Oh! We have to talk about the sweater.
Which I never anticipated or questioned. It’s so interesting that people will chase after this, or that they want to try to create things for themselves. So I said let’s create some things for them that not everybody can have and they can find their version.
What I found from the first movie with the sweater was how many people–from mom and pops on Etsy to everywhere else–were selling out of the sweaters they made. I thought, What a special, wonderful thing. All of these people go through hard work and everybody can take advantage of this. It wasn’t just one big company and everybody trying to get the same thing. I thought that was such a beautiful message that film can do that for other small businesses. Who knew that was going to happen?
The pressure was on this time. What’s going to be the sweater? I don’t think there has to be one. I think the greatest thing is that it lives on its own. And that’s what makes it special for that film.
Thank you for educating the public on what a cable-knit sweater is. Edward Norton has also said that his favorite outfit was Duke’s bikini—that might be the sweater of this film.
The funniest thing is that Dave was one of the first people that I fit. It’s always that jumping off place. I showed Daniel pictures and he laughed so hard.
Dave came in and I don’t think he knew what he was getting into. When he came in and I had the clothes, I think he was sort of like, What are we doing? We saved the bathing suit for last, because it’s not a comfortable thing for anybody. And listen! He’s in shape for sure. You’re just never prepared to put on a speedo in a fitting room. Bright lights, all that stuff. He was like, Yeah! Let’s do it.
I wanted to be sure that the belts always matched, whatever it was. We put a sarong on with matching Crocs–we definitely had matching Crocs with every outfit. Even if for comfort, I needed him to have those because I thought it was just so funny. Dave is so funny. If you watch it again, it’s like there’s a struggle for him to get out of the pool. There was absolutely no struggle.
Do you have a favorite character to dress or outfit that you made for the film?
My two favorites are probably Birdie Jay (Kate Hudson) and Andi (Janelle Monae). Daniel’s always open to making costumes because they can be something all of their own. You can tweak every little thing: a button, a pocket, any detail. The actors get involved and it’s fun for them, too.
Lionel (Leslie Odom Jr.) embodies such kindness and love. He will try on things forever to find what works for him and for the character. We made that green suit for him, and the shirt and jacket in the opening. I just don’t think that we have to define the scientist as the white lab coat tie, you know, nerdy guy. They have style, too! They’re artists in their own right. We wanted to create this magic for him where there’s other things going on in his life other than this. We used a lot of natural fabrics with him as well, kind of getting away from what Miles was doing that he was so against. Those little thought processes go into it. But I really loved his green suit and he wore it so well.
Lionel’s emerald suit with the hat and the brooch are just incredible.
Leslie just wears clothes so well–he carries himself with such confidence. They all do, which made it really interesting to work with them.
Now that a lot of studios are doing these ensemble casts where they go and they stay in one remote location, it just brings something special to the screen that you can’t see anywhere else.
They got so comfortable as a group and it was such a beautiful thing to witness. It felt like a camp in summer where you might send your kid off and the kid cries. And then when they’re leaving, they’re crying because they don’t want to leave each other. I think that’s what making that film felt like. And they were forced into being together a lot, which I think only benefited the film.
We shot that whole party scene in Serbia. Most of those designs come from local Serbian designers, which was really rewarding. You travel to these places that you don’t expect, you work with local crew, and you learn. It’s an experience unlike any other–and it’s not only the cast having fun. You’re kind of locked in so they become your family too. It’s a really special experience.
How do you think costume design plays into that experience?
We work really, really hard to make a safe space so that everything else can be free. People don’t talk about the hours and the time it takes. We are costume designers. We are creating a character. I want something special, and I don’t want something that everybody can have. I think that’s what the movies are about. These characters are supposed to be bigger and otherworldly. We’re supposed to dream, right? If we’re all looking exactly the same or having everything that they have, what is special in this business? Every single bit, even for 600 background actors, is thought out. If you can make the socks, you will, because you want to do something so specific to that character.
I don’t think people really understand what we do and therefore it becomes an afterthought. That’s why we’re naked without us–where I think we’re asking for you to see us for what we do and what we’re creating.
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Sara Klausing is a contributing style editor with over ten years of experience. Following roles at Vogue and Google, Klausing specializes in future-facing coverage at the intersection of fashion, culture, and technology.