Here's Why Helena Bonham Carter's 'Ocean's 8' Character Feels So Familiar
Ocean's 8 is so jam-packed with Hollywood's finest, even a heavyweight like Helena Bonham Carter can lost in the twinkling of celebrity stardom. In the film, centered around a diamond heist at The Met Gala, Carter plays down-and-out fashion designer Rose Weil. Eccentric, pouty, and nearly bankrupt, Rose is the group's fashion insider. But is Helena Bonham Carter's Ocean's 8 character based on a real designer? Given the number of cameos and references in the movie, it's not implausible.
The $150 million-dollar heist schemed up by Ocean's 8 ringleader Debbie Ocean (sister of Danny from the earlier films), involves a hit at the biggest, fanciest, most fashion-centric party in New York City — the Met Gala. Held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to raise money for its costume department, each year the ball has a wildly different theme. A-list celebrities from stage, screen, society, and most especially the fashion industry race to try to and outdo each other with their outfits.
In Ocean's 8, the plan is to steal a six-pound Cartier necklace off the throat of famous actor Daphne Kluger (played by famous actor Anne Hathaway) during the party, in plain sight of hundreds of people specifically there to see, be seen, and take notice of accessories like a six-pound diamond necklace. To pull off the job without being noticed, they'll need an inside man (well, woman) and that's where Carter's Rose Weil comes in.
When Debbie first approaches Rose at her fashion show, she's near tears wailing she's broke and will have to go to jail where she'll be really broke. They recruit her to make the dress for Daphne's red carpet appearance and join them at the ball, giving her a cut of the take, and her career a much-needed shot in the arm. Sporting an outlandish flower halo atop a garden-themed gown at the Gala and a pile of bleach-blonde curls tied up with whatever's at hand otherwise, Rose certainly seems like a real life fashionista. Yet for a movie centered around style, it's best to speak to an expert.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, the film's costume designer Sara Edwards noted that fashion was a character all its own in the original '60s Ocean's 11 movie, and Ocean's 8 is a return to form in that regard. Edwards said that Rose is "a fashion designer past her prime" based on "Vivienne Westwood, Grace Coddington, Victorian and Japanese style."
For those unfamiliar, Westwood is the woman who brought punk and new wave style to the runway, getting her start designing clothes for future Sex Pistols manager Malcom McLaren's boutique SEX. Meanwhile, Coddington is the Vogue Creative Director, and she's known all over the world for both her influence and shock of auburn hair on pale skin.
The designers' outré risk-taking and attention-grabbing looks might've inspired Rose Weil's attitude, but both ladies are as far from past their prime as you can get. In fact, Westwood's snubbing after bringing politics to the fore at the 2013 "Punk"-themed Met Gala was the talk of the town; so synonymous with the concept, everyone took notice she wasn't a star guest. Life sometimes imitates art though; Coddington was recently at the center of her own heist when an ex-staffer stole over $50,000 via credit card fraud and skimming sales from the Vogue leader.
In a Movie Videos interview, Carter noted an important difference between her character and the inspirations for Rose. The actor specifically described the fictional designer as "Not the cool person," elaborating that "I don't get to be smooth, I'm chaos personified." That's a 180-degree flip from the sharp individuality and collected personas of two women who've made their own unique ways to the top of the fashion industry, breaking every rule on the way up.
It's not all surface looks copied though; Carter went on to say that Rose is not only not a smooth criminal, she's "a liability, because she's utterly open, unpremeditated in everything she does, totally impulsive...she's a creative!" Now that sounds a lot closer to her real-life inspirations.