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How Challengers created tennis-core

The partnership between Luca Guadagnino and Jonathan Anderson

How Challengers created tennis-core The partnership between Luca Guadagnino and Jonathan Anderson

The artistic paths of Luca Guadagnino and Jonathan Anderson intertwine once again in Challengers, the new film by the director of Call Me By Your Name and Bones And All, which premiered in Italian cinemas just last night. The story follows the journey of Tish, portrayed by Zendaya, who finds herself forced to abandon her flourishing tennis career after an injury on the court. She becomes the coach of her husband Art (Mark Faist), but during a tournament, the two encounter a ghost from the past. In the role of Patrick, Josh O’Connor will throw a wrench into the relationship between Tish and Art, bringing back memories of their past adolescence together. Drawing inspiration from the world of tennis, the gripping plot of Guadagnino's new film deals with passion, struggle, and victories, personal dramas, and the need for self-assertion, also making use of Anderson's costumes as a narrative tool. In Challengers, we meet Tish, Art, and Patrick at the moment of their union and later, when they have grown up and drifted apart. This is the boundary that separates the wardrobe of the protagonists, a central inspiration for the "narrative" costumes signed by Jonathan Anderson.

In the love scene shared by Tish, Art, and Patrick, we see the three youngsters wearing comfortable outfits with a distinctly vintage aesthetic. What might seem like pajamas, Zendaya wears a velvet fuchsia sweatshirt that alludes to Juicy Couture's athleisure-wear, while Art and Patrick are in boxer shorts, striped shirts, and t-shirts. In the film, it seems that Anderson has chosen shirts and t-shirts to bring out the personality and emotions of the three tennis players. From the ironic slogan "I TOLD YA" (a direct reference to an old photograph of J.F. Kennedy)  to the composure of the azure suit that Zendaya pairs with heavy jewelry courtside, the type of collar worn by the characters in Challengers reveals some additional details about their emotional state and the situation they find themselves in - although the outfit that has most captivated the hearts of viewers seems to be the electric blue A-line dress with rhinestones that Tish wears in one of the early scenes of the film, while celebrating one of her many victories.

Many of the actors Luca Guadagnino collaborates with have a certain reputation in the fashion industry. Just as Taylor Russell, who stars alongside Timothée Chalamet in Bones And All and is a Global Ambassador for Loewe, is a great muse for both Guadagnino and Anderson, Josh O’Connor is also the face of numerous Loewe campaigns. Similarly, Zendaya has become one of the most followed figures in the entertainment world thanks to her red carpet image curated by stylist Law Roach. But the love story between Guadagnino and fashion doesn't begin with the collaboration with Jonathan Anderson (who will also design the costumes for the director's next film, Queer, with Daniel Craig): in I Am Love, the wardrobe of the protagonist Tilda Swinton was the work of Raf Simons, who also designed many of the looks in We Are Who We Are; in A Bigger Splash, the outfits bore the signature of Dior, while in Suspiria there were some looks from the Fall/Winter 2019 collection of Undercover. Who knows if Jonathan Anderson and Luca Guadagnino will manage to revive the tennis aesthetic in fashion, after the popularity of the 1980s Italian style of Call Me By Your Name.