Written and directed by Euphoria creator Sam Levinson, Malcolm & Marie is the tale of a couple’s night-long dispute as accusations of exploitation, callousness and toxicity explode in a tense and vicious rehashing of years of past arguments. Starring John David Washington and Zendaya as the titular characters, the dramatic performances are captured entirely in black and white, but that didn’t stop fashion stylist Law Roach from creating a show-stopping metallic dress for Marie that has set the internet abuzz.
From the outset, the tension between Malcolm and Marie is palpable. Having just returned from Malcolm’s film premiere, which was a resounding success, the young director is giddy with the promise of fame and a glistening Hollywood future. But his longtime partner Marie is unable to match his excitement, instead feeling hurt and betrayed by his forgetting to thank her in his speech, a point that stings even more given that she believes he used her life as the main inspiration for his film.
The film is impressive as much for its production as for its storytelling. A lockdown passion project, it was shot in 14 days last year in the midst of a pandemic with a 22 person crew, following only Malcolm and Marie and taking place solely within their Malibu house. Washington and Zendaya’s performances are what keep the audience engaged — oscillating between feelings of bitter anger and tenderness, reconciliation and toxic disputes, the couple engage in a night-long battle of emotions, revisiting past arguments and perceived wrongs in this epic relationship reckoning.
As Marie’s costume designer, Law Roach — Zendaya’s long-time stylist— had a tough job at hand. The film was shot in black and white, and Levinson wanted the costumes to be as timeless as possible, so that the film would resonate just as well 20 years from now. But the self-proclaimed “image architect,” who is one of Hollywood’s most in demand fashion stylists, was more than up to the task.
In total, Marie wears three costumes, two of which are her in briefs and a tank top, with a kimono from Zendaya’s own wardrobe thrown on for the final act. But it’s her first outfit, the sensual metallic dress she wore to the premiere, that is garnering the most attention.
A custom creation made by Roach in collaboration with stylist and designer Jason Rembert of Aliétte, the gown is made from a metallic, lamé fabric that catches the light and shimmers as she moves, with a dramatic cut out across her abdomen that adds to the seductiveness of the dress. The custom gown is dramatic in every sense — from the halterneck top to the thigh high split that ripples open as she strides across the Malibu home. It’s a cinematic, sensual look that reflects her strong-minded, opinionated personality. It also perfectly complements Washington’s Prada suit, selected by his stylist Samantha McMillen, highlighting how the pair could be seen as the golden Hollywood couple, as Malcolm hopes.
The portrait of a couple’s bitter dispute and airing of long-buried hurts is undoubtedly the heart-wrenching core of the film, it’s that dress that has caused the most buzz. While occasions worth dressing up for have been absent for over a year, the light at the end of the tunnel is coming into sight, so take a style cue from Marie and plan for more glamorous nights with our edit of this season’s best metallic gowns.