I’m Obsessed With Anne Hathaway’s Nightgowns in ‘The Idea of You’ & Made the Costume Designer Tell Me Everything

Jacqueline Demeterio talked to Jezebel about the film's most iconic looks and answered questions about its characters that the internet has been furiously debating for weeks. 

I’m Obsessed With Anne Hathaway’s Nightgowns in ‘The Idea of You’ & Made the Costume Designer Tell Me Everything

My adoration for The Idea of You, which has taken the internet by storm since its May 2 release on Amazon Prime, is three-fold: I came for the much-hyped, much-delivered promise of a fun, silly time watching Anne Hathaway portray a hot single mom (Solène Marchand) and fall in love with Nicholas Galitzine as the Harry Styles-coded boyband heartthrob, Hayes Campbell. I stayed for the surprisingly resonant feminist messaging. And I was positively blown away by the fashion—particularly the scene-stealing pieces Solène lounges in while watching TV alone on her couch, watching August Moon music videos in bed, or generally traipsing around looking jaw-droppingly hot. My favorite of this ensemble is the light blue silk camisole Solène dons while all on her lonesome, smiling, reading some unabashedly thirsty texts from Hayes. 

If Solène’s shift dresses and pajama sets took up 99% of film’s the budget, I would find that incredibly appropriate—and a societal good, to be honest. I told this to Jacqueline Demeterio, the Idea of You costume designer who miraculously found at least one of Solène’s most iconic looks (the vintage Chanel dress she’s wearing at her gallery when Hayes shows up to buy all the art, for instance) at a RealReal consignment store in Atlanta, where they filmed.

Throughout the movie (possibly the best of 2024, IMO!) Hathaway’s Solène pulls off what feels like the impossible as a female lead, or as a woman in general: She’s stunningly beautiful while emitting an air of realness. It’s a tough balance to strike, and you wouldn’t expect it from a movie portraying a woman 40 or older—most on-screen depictions of this demographic feature dowdy moms in matronly clothes, a la The Stepford Wives. Solène is… anything but that.

Watching The Idea of You, there’s a visceral feeling that Anne Hathaway is a woman just like you or me trying to put herself out there and dress hot for a guy she’s into. According to Demeterio, who styled Hathaway on two previous projects (The Intern and We Crashed), Hathaway played an active role in curating Solène’s aesthetic, as an art seller, a businesswoman, and also a bohemian Silverlake type, with nods to her French background. The finished product is an array of effortlessly sexy and timeless looks that also radiate maturity and realness. One look that embodies this, which Demeterio regards as one of her favorites: Solène’s vintage Fendi cream dress over lingerie from Kiki de Montparnasse, all beneath a Dior trench coat, when she goes to Hayes’ hotel in New York City for the first time. “To me, that was a very standout look because it was just a very seductive, sexy look, but not overtly—what’s hottest about it is you can feel that she feels hot in it,” Demeterio explained.

However, I had to ask Demeterio what went into the specific choice of styling Solène in vintage designer shift dresses while she just hangs out on the couch, as opposed to the oversized t-shirts the rest of us mortal women wear. Actually, Demeterio explained, the goal was to convey some of Solène’s relatability through her undeniably sexy loungewear: “It was important to show that she had this curated style, which I feel like we all kind of do—we all have these pieces in our wardrobe that we go back to, pieces we’ve been wearing for, like, 10 years and still wear, even when we’re alone, that make us feel sexy.”

Each of the night dresses Hathaway wears as Solène is a vintage designer piece, including one that was dyed from black to navy to fit the specific color palette that Hathaway and Demeterio landed on for her character. “The things she wore in her home are definitely supposed to reflect those more worn in, older pieces,” she said, “as well as Solène’s whole, clearly defined aesthetic—we see it in how her home is decorated, and yes, what she’s wearing while in her home.” 

Courtesy of Amazon Studios

Among the many conversations The Idea of You has sparked during the last couple of weeks, there’s been a pretty polarizing debate about whether Anne Hathaway is objectively too hot to portray a sad, dumped divorcée. (A spoiler that doesn’t actually spoil much: Some years before the events of the movie, Solène and Daniel, the father of her teen daughter, split up after he cheats on her.) I ask Demeterio about the “Anne is too hot!” allegations. “Isn’t that just… reality though?” Demeterio said, “We all know people who are amazing and beautiful—I have personal friends—who are cheated and wronged. Supermodels get dumped by these guys. It does happen!” 

Demeterio also credits Reid Scott, who plays Daniel, for giving such a memorable performance as an asshole ex, that any woman could watch his dynamic with Solène and relate to her position. (Women can really look like anything and be wronged by the Daniels of the world.) Ultimately, there was no reason whatsoever for a character like Solène, or any woman or female character like her, to not be hot, just because she’s single, a little older than your typical 23-year-old romcom lead, and a mom. So, “Is Anne Hathaway too hot to play Solène???” is not an especially relevant or helpful question, Demeterio says. Yes, Hathaway is beautiful but a “key part” of Solène’s beauty, what makes her so attractive to Hayes (and the seeing world, really) is “how she carries herself, how you can see she feels in her clothes,” whether she’s in Kiki de Montparnasse, or Agent Provocateur, or the iconic, velvet Etro blazer she’s wearing at the gallery when Hayes stops by.

Courtesy of Amazon Studios

The romcom, which I will unabashedly tell you or anyone is my favorite movie of all time, centers around the unlikely romance between Solène and her much younger, much more famous lover, Hayes, and the ensuing messiness and misogynist backlash directed at her as a mother. Prior to the movie’s release, the internet largely regarded The Idea of You as fanfic drawing on Harry Styles’ relationship with Olivia Wilde, who is 10 years Styles’ senior, from 2020 to 2022; photos showing Hathaway and Galitzine as Solène and Hayes were promptly posted side-by-side with paparazzi photos of Styles and Wilde.

So I had no choice but to ask Demeterio if there’s any truth to the internet’s deeply held conviction that Wilde and Styles—and their varying fashion choices—inspired Hathaway and Galitzine’s wardrobe. She pointed out the titular book that the film is based on came out in 2017, years before Wilde and Styles dated. (True!) But “obviously, I looked at some imagery of them,” she said. (After all, photos of the famous pair were pretty much unavoidable during their relationship.) Yet, when she actually started styling Hathaway and Galitzine, that just “took on a life of its own.”

“Putting clothes on Anne, putting clothes on Nick—it was all such a different feeling,” she said. “Once I started working personally with them, I never thought about Harry or Olivia—maybe Harry’s street style, a little—but even with Nick, it was never at all like, ‘We’re making you into Harry Styles.” 

Courtesy of Amazon Studios

That’s why Demeterio says she was so excited for everyone to finally see The Idea of You for themselves. You’ll see that contrary to all the “One Direction fanfic” labels and memes about Wilde and Styles, it’s “a world of its own,” she said. And she’s right—these are entirely unique characters and part of what brings them to life is their styling, the stories that each item of clothing conveys about them. 

In March, after the premiere, I wrote about how much I loved the way this movie approaches being a mother and being a woman at and after 40. It’s a rare story of motherhood and romance that doesn’t center around sacrifice. Solène gets to be happy; Solène gets to be in love; she gets to have a loving relationship with her daughter; and she also gets to be very, very sexy. I love this story, and part of what makes it so convincing, so real, and so fun is Solène’s fashion, which imbues all of these experiences.

As for Demeterio’s favorite looks, when I ask her about them, she sighs. That’s what can be so tough as a costume designer: “You know all the looks you had in there, and they don’t all really make it in,” she explained. During the montage where Solène follows Hayes on tour and we see her at some of August Moon’s shows, the camera pans to Solène “backstage in vintage, Versace leather pants and a Tom Ford tank, and a Balmain jacket,” Demeterio says. “[Director Michael Showalter] told me, ‘Jackie, I’m doing this for you,’ because that was one of my favorite looks, and it’s in there for, like, a second.”

It’s a shame we didn’t get to see them all. But we get to see Hathaway in about half a dozen different gorgeous nightgowns that I’ve since been desperately trying to find dupes of, and honestly, that’s more than enough for me.

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