Red Shirt

November 8, 2023
I found this shirt in my closet yesterday. It’s one of the shirts Brad Pitt wore in Johnny Suede. Costume Designer Jessica Haston worked very closely with me to find the look for Johnny. We wanted him to seem from another time but not ‘old-timey’ like the folks on Happy Days.
We struggled to find it. One day, when Brad and I were rehearsing in my apartment, I had him try on some of the vintage clothes I’d dug out of Salvation Armies over 20 years: shirt-jacks, pants, a white tuxedo jacket, and my favorite shirt, this red item. Well, not exactly this red item.
They all fit him perfectly. Even the pointy suede shoes I’d found in a suitcase someone was throwing away on The Bowery. And so, my closet became Johnny’s wardrobe. I was happy and greatly relieved.
One day, about three weeks into shooting, a PA came running up to me. “I’ve got some bad news!” she cried. “Someone broke into the wardrobe van and stole all of Johnny’s costumes!”
We’d already had some tough breaks on the shoot, but this one hit me hard. The police found the guys who had the clothes, but they said they liked them so much they were going to keep them. And if we wanted to continue shooting in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the police advised us to just let it go.
But based on the footage we’d already shot, Jessica miraculously made copies of every piece of clothing, including this red shirt. No one could tell the difference.
At the end of the shoot, Jessica asked me if I wanted the clothes. I tried on a few of them. As nicely made as they were, they just didn’t feel the same on me. In real life, they felt fake.
But, for some reason, I kept this red shirt. It is 32 years old. I’ve worn it a couple of times and have slowly grown fond of it. Jessica Haston did the embroidery.
See Johnny Suede here.

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Independent Filmmaker & Musician