The Costumes in “How to Have Sex” Are More Important Than You Might Think
This post contains spoilers and explores themes of sexual assault.
Going on your first girls holiday is often seen as a rite of passage. We’ve all seen the documentaries and reality shows, and many of us have experienced those neon-lit strips of bars and clubs, but there is a darker side to the teenage party holiday explored in Molly Manning Walker’s debut feature film. “How to Have Sex” is an assured coming-of-age story about consent and friendship that is hard to shake off once you’ve seen it.
Awarded the coveted Un Certain Regard prize at Cannes Film Festival, the movie received critical acclaim prior to its release. It highlights how intimacy can go from mutually pleasurable to scarring if we buy into the misconception that communication and empathy aren’t sexy. While the film spotlights the pressure teenagers experience, it’s also a joyous study of girlhood, looking back on Walker’s own teen holidays.
“It’s so important that this film feels real and that people recognise themselves in it, or, if they don’t, they recognise the characters.”
Set in Malia, Greece, this compelling debut follows Tara (Mia McKenna-Bruce), Em (Enva Lewis), and Skye (Lara Peake) awaiting their GCSE results on what promises to be “the best holiday ever”. Tara is looking to lose her virginity, while the girls half-jokingly bet on who will have more sex.
Choosing the right outfit is half the fun of their mission, and we see them borrow clothes from their respective hand luggage and hype each other up. And it’s their outfits that serve so much more than just an aesthetic. The writer and director sat down with costume designer George Buxton to bottle up today’s Gen-Z-on-holiday vibe, while incorporating details that speak to the film’s bigger themes.
To portray this stylistic messaging, Buxton travelled to Malia for research, talking to young holidaygoers and collecting an “incredible archive of thousands of photos”. “It’s so important that this film feels real and that people recognise themselves in it, or, if they don’t, they recognise the characters,” she tells POPSUGAR.
Below, Buxton shares her and Walker’s behind-the-scenes colour-coding and how some foreshadowing accessories contributed to creating the world of “How to Have Sex”.