Gekko Powers Up With Shark Blue Fabric, High Collars: Interview

Michael Douglas
Michael Douglas in "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps." The suits are crisp, sharp-lined and sleek. Ellen Mirojnick designed the clothing for both "Wall Street" and "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps." Photographer: Barry Wetcher/Twentieth Century Fox via Bloomberg

When he spots a chance to get back into the game, Gordon Gekko quickly moves to power up his look with a trip to the tailor.

“He goes bold with an international flavor, acquiring a whole new wardrobe, including three-piece suits,” said Ellen Mirojnick, the costume designer for Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” and its predecessor, “Wall Street.”

“His tailor cuts a beautiful collared, double-breasted vest, slim trousers, peak lapels. The shirt-maker coordinates his high-collared shirts, ties, pocket squares, scarves.”

Times have definitely changed since Gekko last inspired mini-masters of the universe with his slicked-back hair, suspenders and horizontally striped shirts.

I spoke to Mirojnick by phone at her home in Los Angeles.

Lundborg: How did you visualize “Wall Street” redux?

Mirojnick: I tried to create the feeling of the end of the glitzy Gilded Age in New York, 2008. In this second film, the amount of money at stake is much, much higher.

Finance Priests

Lundborg: The characters still feel like masters of the universe?

Mirojnick: I really believe these men think they’re superheroes. Deep down inside is that mentality that nothing is impossible, that they live on the edge and have masterful strength and power.

Lundborg: So how did you make the men look like high priests of finance?

Mirojnick: The suitings are crisp, sharp-lined, with no textured personality. I needed to make sure the men looked sleek and on edge 24/7, so I selected fabrications that have no excess -- they’re high, tight and lean.

Lundborg: So no bright and flirtatious accessories like those in the 1987 film?

Mirojnick: The first “Wall Street” opened up the world of personal expression. Men could be bold and have their own personal style, not follow the stereotype of the banker or broker.

As embodied by Michael Douglas, Gordon Gekko was a self-made man, and the world he created around himself was hugely seductive.

My Idol

Lundborg: How did Gekko became a cultural reference?

Mirojnick: It was a total surprise. He became iconic within a year of the film’s release and ultimately influenced a generation of people now at work.

He was the villain and we never thought he’d become a character young men looked up to.

Lundborg: What do guys need to show how powerful they are?

Mirojnick: Accessories. You need accessories that are of the finest quality -- the watch, the cufflinks, the belt, the tie pin.

There’s a lot of bespokeness around because there’s so much money, and the collar and the shoulder are two really important elements.

Lundborg: In “Money Never Sleeps,” the collars are spread and the knots are Windsor?

Mirojnick: There are different kinds -- what’s important is how the collar frames the face.

Shia LaBeouf has a high, two-button collar since he has a really long neck, and I’ve also raised up the knot to create the right proportions.

Banished Wizard

Lundborg: What’s Gordon’s fashion arc?

Mirojnick: In the beginning, Gordon is a banished wizard. He’s now a writer, an outsider, though he ultimately sharks his way around the story.

He’s casual and comfortable, wearing open shirts, soft sports jackets, slacks.

Lundborg: What’s he wearing after the climactic fashion transformation?

Mirojnick: Pure luxury. When he first appears as the Gekko, he wears a gorgeous, shark blue fabric called “Tonik,” a high-worsted, twisted yarn, marrying it with a sharp, striped shirt, his cigar and 18-karat gold vintage cufflinks.

Lundborg: His watch?

Mirojnick: Jaeger-LeCoultre.

Lundborg: What about his shoes?

Mirojnick: He’s wearing ready-made shoes by Ferragamo, Berluti and John Lobb, but when he moves to London, he buys five pairs from Crockett & Jones.

Lundborg: Why do American men tend to be behind Europeans on the style front?

Mirojnick: There’s something about fashion that embarrasses American men. Many have also held onto this adolescent masculinity.

It’s especially attractive to men during transition times, going from their late 20s into their 30s, and then again into their early 40s, where they revert to being a teenager. But that look is getting very tired.

(Zinta Lundborg is a writer for Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are her own. This interview was adapted from a longer conversation.)

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