Austin Butler Needed A Ridiculous Amount Of Costumes For Elvis

The real Elvis Presley was obsessed with clothes, so Austin Butler had to have a truly absurd amount of outfits for his new movie.

By Charlene Badasie | Updated

Austin Butler

Australian director, Baz Luhrmann is known for turning the movie-going experience into a visual feast. From William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet in 1996 to The Great Gatsby in 2013, his extravagant filmmaking style is instantly recognizable. His latest release Elvis is no different, with Austin Butler being transformed into the King of Rock and Roll for the biopic that travels from the dusty backwoods of the South to the neon lights of 1970s Las Vegas.

To capture the essence of the 20th century’s most unforgettable showman, costume designer, Catherine Martin told Variety there are two categories of costumes in the movie. This includes recreations of clothes that existed in real life and fictional outfits that are a synthesis of the apparel that Elvis actually owned. She also explained how each of the 90 costumes Austin Butler wears throughout the film helps to tell the story since the music legend loved to express himself through the clothes he wore (as mentioned in Esquire).

Like all of the costumes Martin designed for Austin Butler, the iconic pink rockabilly suit had to facilitate movement and serve the practicalities of filmmaking. “The pink suit is a combination of this very drapey, fabulous wool fabric with a very specific soft, almost cardigan-like feel in the jacket,” she told the publication. As the singer’s fame grows within the story, Martin created outfits like jumpsuits and leather jackets to match his evolving tastes. She also collaborated with Kim and Butch Polston of B&K Enterprises in Charlestown, Indiana who recreated the rock star’s 1970s stage gear.

The epic collaboration allowed Martin to commission jumpsuits for the Austin Butler vehicle that were carefully created in the same manner as the original outfits. She even managed to replicate the chain-stitch by Gene Doucette, who personally embroidered the Elvis’ actual jumpsuits. Another key collaborator was the King’s longtime costume designer Bill Belew, who worked for the wardrobe department for NBC at the time. Martin explained that Elvis wore a skintight leather suit for his 1968 NBC special. It marked the first time fans got to see the Napoleon collar that became his signature look in the ‘70s, so it was very important to get the costume exactly right.

With so much care taken to create an aesthetically accurate version of Elvis on screen, fans are in for a treat when the movie hits theaters this weekend. Inspired by actual events, the biopic chronicles the life and career of Elvis Presley (Austin Butler) over two decades. Viewers get an “inside look” at his rise to superstardom, as well as the complicated relationship the singer had with his manager, Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks).

Elvis is directed by Baz Luhrmann from a screenplay he co-wrote with Sam Bromell, Craig Pearce, and Jeremy Doner. The film had its world premiere at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival where it received a twelve-minute standing ovation from the audience. Critics have also been kind to the project, praising Luhrmann’s dazzling energy and style which is perfectly complemented by Austin Butler’s outstanding lead performance. Luke Bracey, David Wenham, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Kodi Smit-McPhee, Gary Clark Jr., and Richard Roxburgh also appear in supporting roles.