How ‘Saltburn’ Nailed So-Bad-It’s-Good 2000s Style

In director Emerald Fennell’s Saltburn, the hottest guy on campus has the most questionable fashion sense—and not just because the steamy, twisty, and, at times, cringey thriller kicks off in 2006, the era of Ed Hardy and skinny jeans.

Standing at six-foot-five and blessed with a similarly soaring bank account from his titled family, Felix Catton (Jacob Elordi, with a posh English accent) never has to try. On the first day of freshman year (or “first year,” as the Brits say), he effortlessly holds court in a slouchy, too-short, blue Ralph Lauren V-neck over a mussy white T-shirt and loose dark-wash jeans.

“Felix, the most beautiful man in the world, wears the worst clothes known to man,” Fennell tells GQ. “Because boys like that don’t have to dress well.”

Chiabella James

Eager scholarship student Oliver Quick (Barry Keoghan), however, enters the gates of the illustrious university deliberately attired for the occasion: conservative blazer, Oxford crest necktie, striped Oxford scarf. “Hey, cool jacket,” sneers Felix’s American cousin Farleigh (Archie Madekwe). Surveying the scene, newbie Oliver’s wide-eyes land on Felix in his signature low-effort, but high-reward ‘fit.

“In England, the richer and more old money people are, the more in disarray their clothes. So it was important that right from the get-go. Oliver was the person who was trying desperately to fit in by wearing the blazer and the tie,” says Fennell, an Oxford alum. “Then he realizes that the A-team on campus—we call them the ‘Alpha Hotties’—just wear pajamas and Ugg boots. Farleigh comes in with glitter still on his face.”

To accurately depict the style of mid-aughts landed gentry, costume designer Sophie Canale raided her own early Facebook archives and gleaned inspiration from scions of the oldest money family in the UK: Prince Harry and Prince William, whose mid-aughts “relaxed cuts and silhouettes” Canale referenced heavily. She also dressed Felix in their preferred labels, like Abercrombie and Fitch rugby shirts and jeans, alongside polos by Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, Dunhill, and Superdry.

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