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'It was a challenge to make Keira Knightley look contemporary'

Three questions with stylist Arjun Bhasin

Q. What was your design brief for the film, Begin Again? What are the key aspects that you kept in mind while styling?
A. The director wanted a very realistic portrayal of life in New York City. Through the main characters, played by Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo and Adam Levine, Begin Again is very much a story about the struggle between creativity
and commercialism within the music industry.

Keira Knightley and Adam Levine in Begin Again
Keira Knightley and Adam Levine in Begin Again

Q. How was it working with Keira Knightley and Adam Levine? How much did they involve themselves in the costume department? Who was easier to dress: Keira or Adam?
A. It was a really wonderful experience working with both Keira and Adam. I was used to seeing Keira in period films or in high fashion clothing in magazines. It was a fun challenge to make her more contemporary and approachable. She plays a small town girl who arrives in New York City with her boyfriend (Adam Levine) who subsequently becomes a Rockstar. We decided that we wanted to have her in a very casual, cool, street style and a little boyish-yet-chic look. It's a mix of a few different contrasting styles, very much a bohemian artist...a girl on the go. Oversized pleated trousers and men’s lace-up brogues, 70s tea dresses — blending quirky fashion and practicality — have been used. We talked a lot about the looks being something that other girls would like — easy and fun, rather than being glamourous and over-sexualised. Adam was less involved in the design of his character. It was his acting debut and he was quite open to my interpretation of his character

Arjun Bhasin
Arjun Bhasin

Q. Any inspirations for the looks?
A. I remember my inspiration boards being covered with images of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith and Audrey Hepburn and pictures of New York City musicians, but the real inspiration for my characters are always people I see on the streets of New York: characters with a sense of history, who look like they’ve had remarkable pasts.

Begin Again released in India on July 18.

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