tilda swinton red dress black purse I Am Love Marisa Berenson

Tilda Swinton -- seen here with actress Marisa Berenson -- is red hot in Jil Sander for "I Am Love." Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

Tilda Swinton's latest star turn is as a wealthy, unfaithful wife in the Italian-language film "Io Sono L'Amore" ("I Am Love"), which opened on Friday.

Produced by Silvia Venturini Fendi of the famous Fendi family, and with characters dressed by Fendi and Jil Sander's Raf Simons, the film is practically fashion porn. (And for fans of more traditional porn, there's some of that, too!)

Oscar-winner Swinton not only pulls off the whole film in Italian, but her character also requires her to do it with a Russian accent. "My Russian is actually better than my Italian," Swinton told StyleList.

"I didn't really speak Italian at all [before the film]. I understood a fair bit of it, but now I shall always speak Italian with a Russian accent. I'm stuck with it now."

Swinton plays Emma Recchi, a middle-generation wife in a powerful Italian textile-manufacturing family.

Her mother-in-law is played by the magnificent Marisa Berenson, whose perfectly put-together character favors vintage '70s furs.


In fact, all of the Recchi women favor a classic look -- the impression is that clothes in this family are passed down, not shopped for.

"The wonderful Antonella Cannarozzi, who's our costume designer, designed the entire collusion of all the wardrobe," said Swinton. "But we did work with two fashion houses -- the house of Fendi dressed the men and also provided extraordinary furs for Marisa.

"But the Emma character was dressed entirely by Jil Sander. Raf Simons and his team created an entire wardrobe -- that's something that classic cinema used to do quite regularly, if you think about the relationship between Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn or Saint Laurent and Catherine Deneuve. Or even in old Hollywood, if you think of Adrian dressing Garbo or Katharine Hepburn."

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Jil Sander's minimalist aesthetic carries Swinton's character seamlessly through the film. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

The actress added, "That's one of the things we wanted to revive, so that there was a really expressive wardrobe. There were moments when, for her to wear a red dress at the point at which she falls in love, there's a control one can exert on the palette of the film if one works in that way. Jil Sander were really extraordinary with the work that they did."

Of course, Mrs. Recchi spends a fair bit of time out of her gorgeous clothes, too. (Awkwardly, she chooses to do this with her eldest son's friend and business partner, a chef.) There is some relatively graphic nudity, but Swinton said she was not uncomfortable that her character was required to bare all while her male co-star retained a little more of his modesty.

"The women's sensuality is really the story of the film," she said. "What you're actually making a film about is the liberation of a woman, so I don't really see a problem there."

In fact, "Io Sono L'Amore" is a sensual experience from start to finish, with a strong musical score and plenty of attention paid to the delights of fashion, food, and lovemaking.

"We are calling it a kind of recession holiday to Italy," laughed Swinton. "Even before we had the story, [director] Luca Guadagnino and I were talking about a kind of cinema experience, which is what we call a 'sense-ational cinema.' We often go to classical cinema for that experience we long for, but you don't often find it now. That sense of beauty, that feeling of real language-of-cinema aliveness."

Miss Swinton is very much alive, both dressed and undressed, in theaters now.

Speaking of steamy stars, read what Eva Mendes told W magazine about being a sex symbol.