Jeremy Strong in a tucked tie-dye T-shirt. Jeremy Strong in faded jeans cinched with a fat leather belt pushing up the very beginnings of a gut. Jeremy Strong with a shaggy flop of hair kept in place by a vibrant tribal pattern headband. And—can it really be?—a multicolor puka shell necklace strung around Jeremy Strong’s neck. Yes! I know it’s a lot to take in. But those are the component parts of Strong’s transformation into activist Jerry Rubin in The Trial of the Chicago 7. Strong, best known for playing the all-money-no-taste Kendall Roy on Succession, might have the most jarring look of the film—maybe because we’re so used to him as The Man his new character is so interested in taking down. But the new Aaron Sorkin movie, which focuses on the activists at the center of a court case following the 1968 Democratic National Convention protests, is full of expertly done costumes worthy of dissecting. In addition to being another readymade Oscar contender for Netflix, the first look we got at The Trial of the Chicago 7 is proof it’s something else, too: maybe the best fashion film of 2020.
The Trial of the Chicago 7 is based on events of the past, but Sorkin tells Vanity Fair that the film’s echoes with 2020 prompted his desire to release it before the election: young voters disenchanted with modern politics, intense political division, and a law-and-order president. But those aren’t the only things 2020 and 1968 have in common. There are also flecks of late ‘60s style in today’s wild menswear world. Strong/Rubin’s tie-dye T-shirt may as well be from hippie-revering brand Online Ceramics.
The costumes aren’t just one-note hippie, though. Costume designer Susan Lyall, who worked on Sorkin’s directorial debut Molly’s Game (and, fun fact, did the costumes for the upcoming live-action Clifford the Big Red Dog movie), shows off the vibrant kaleidoscope of ‘60s style. Sacha Baron Cohen’s Abbie Hoffman rocks a denim shirt unbuttoned to reveal tufts of chest hair, corduroy pants, a colorful and unraveling knit belt, and a motorcycle with leather fringe. And, thank god, that fringe detailing makes a return in another photo of Cohen in a jacket that makes the actor look like a komondor, those moppy coated dogs.
Eddie Redmayne, as Tom Hayden, shows off a slightly more university-library kind of protest style. He’s studiously dressed in charcoal jeans and a button-down shirt with a tie—a look lifted straight from the mid-’60s prep style bible Take Ivy. In another scene he’s wearing a dreamy green turtleneck—the uniform of a man you’d trust to lead you to victory—in a debate competition, if not a revolution.
The photos are a reminder that grand historic movements—the ones that become movies half a century later—are powered by individuals. They might dress in tie-dye shirts, fringe jackets, or turtlenecks, the same way activists at today’s Black Lives Matter protests feel purposefully undefined by any sort of style or article of clothing. A timely reminder: it’s the good guy’s style that ultimately becomes trend fodder, iconic.
Slobbering over yet another photo of Strong, I noticed something special: he’s wearing a shirt that would ruin any Where’s Waldo? scene, but what’s magic here is his puka shell necklace. Dangling up around his chest in one photo, the necklace now loops almost down to his belly button. It grew, evolved, became even more powerful! Now, that’s character growth.
Originally Appeared on GQ