I recently watched John Wick, Chad Stahelski’s directorial debut and Keanu Reeves’ most convincing action flick since The Matrix. In it, the actor portrays a retired hit man who goes back into action to recover his stolen car and avenge a pet dog, the last gift from his deceased wife. Despite being sucked into the highly choreographed kill count the film is known for (as this graphic “supercut” clearly shows), I couldn’t help noticing how stylishly dressed Reeves’ character was while performing the carnage.
Costume design here mixes practicality and elegance, highlighting Wick’s darker side mainly through black or grey suits with ties, which reminded me of the professional thieves, undercover cops and killers with a passion for fashion portrayed in Michael Mann’s Heat, Collateral and Miami Vice.
The costume designer behind John Wick’s look is the Italian Luca Mosca, a former graduate student in pharmacy who pursued his true vocation after completing his medical education. Currently working on Breck Eisner’s The Last Witch Hunter, he was previously involved on films such as Vantage Point, Girlfight and 21.
Raised in the Italian fashion capital of Milan, as he explains on his website, Mosca started to work in Italy at Zamasport and stepped into the film industry after moving to New York in 1994, where he initially founded his fashion brand LUCA+MARCO, along with designer Marco Cattoretti. His career as a costume designer took off thanks to a small feature film that gave him the chance to explore the connotations clothes could add to a character.
According to the production notes for John Wick, Reeves praised Mosca’s costume design as “He gave the clothing so much subtle meaning. All the different shades of black that Luca used gave it a lot of overtones. It’s funereal and it’s priestly. It’s also very chic, but it doesn’t call attention to itself. When I put the suit on, it definitely affects me.”
While recalling his approach to Wick’s wardrobe, Mosca added: “People in this movie dress extraordinarily well. It’s a little bit of a fantasy world, visually speaking, with beautiful homes, extreme money, sophisticated objects and fine art. I had to make a statement with every character. For John Wick, we needed to find him a sort of uniform to be worn almost throughout the entire movie. Then we had to tailor it perfectly and make it sleek and timeless enough to fit into this perfect world.”
It might sound not such a good idea to get into a fight wearing a nice suit and a tie, especially if you’re getting involved in close combat against armed professionals, as they might choke you with that same tie. Unless you are the deadliest killer out there…