How ‘Saltburn’ Costume Designer Brought 2007 Oxford Style to Life

Where else would one to find inspiration for 2007 college-core fashion, other than Facebook albums? 

When Sophie Canale read the script for Emerald Fennell’s new film “Saltburn,” which is set in 2007 England, she was immediately interested — and knew exactly where to begin pulling inspiration.

“It was the first script I read after my first design job with ‘Bridgerton,’ and I just fell in love,” Canale says over Zoom from the set of her new production. “At the beginning it was mood boards mainly of my friends drunk on Facebook as inspiration. I did apologize at my interview for how many drunk people [there were], but it was a great inspiration, my friends. And 2007 for Facebook was just such a highlighted year of everyone becoming friends, and with people that I hadn’t spoken to in such a long time, and it was a great resource for me for fashion. It was funny. People that I worked with in costume over the years, and then I delved back through there. I didn’t know them in 2007, but it was quite exciting to see another side of them at university.”

Barry Keoghan and Jacob Elordi in “Saltburn.”

The film stars Barry Keoghan and Jacob Elordi as Oxford students who then go to spend time at Elordi’s family home, called Saltburn, in the countryside. The university scenes are filled with popped-collar polos and Livestrong bracelets, while at Saltburn the family “dresses for dinner,” in gowns and suits. 

The time period was a specific challenge for Canale, who said it’s both too recent and not far back yet. 

“When people think about period costumes, they think of further back in history and we’re always making history, and I think that’s really important about clothing. We all have our tribes, we all have what we love to wear, and we always kind of tend to surround ourselves. 2007 was really interesting, or the 2000s in general, was interesting to me,” Canale says. “The ’90s have come back tenfold in Britain, especially on the high street. The current teenagers know the ’90s, but 2007 is kind of not far enough back to be in costume houses, to be able to resource period costumes per se. But it’s not in the charity shops or the thrift stores. And so it really was digging through various websites, buying from people’s wardrobes. It’s not necessarily period costume, but I feel like it’s another genre to go back and step back into. And also within my lifetime of going, ‘really, did we really do that?’”

Rosamund Pike and Barry Keoghan in 'Saltburn'

Rosamund Pike and Barry Keoghan in “Saltburn.”

She sourced pieces from Kate Moss’s first collection for Topshop, which had just come out around that time, for the young women to wear in scenes at Oxford, as well as pieces from Abercrombie and Fitch, Hollister and Jack Wills. For the dressier moments at Saltburn, Canale went through the runway collections from the time and pulled looks from Christopher Kane, Valentino, Chanel, Dior and Chloé. 

The final result is one wild sensory ride from start to finish.

“There was so much joy in all of it. You can see how much fun we had,” Canale says. “There’s a nostalgic element to it in a sense, but also, I really enjoy the setting of a period being in Oxford, being in a university of that status. Being in the house as well, and then seeing contemporary clothing against the period backdrop was a really interesting concept.”

Rosamund Pike in 'Saltburn'

Rosamund Pike in “Saltburn.”

Barry Keoghan in 'Saltburn'

Barry Keoghan in “Saltburn.”

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