Wendy Partridge´s “Pompeii” (2014)

Hi guys!!! So today i will be talking about a movie that i loved, i´m not sure if everybody saw it, i hope they did. The costume design in this movie is beautifull. But first a little about the story of this movie:

It is set in 79 A.D., POMPEII tells the epic story of Milo (Kit Harington), a slave turned invincible gladiator who finds himself in a race against time to save his true love Cassia (Emily Browning), the beautiful daughter of a wealthy merchant who has been unwillingly betrothed to a corrupt and evil Roman Senator. As Mount Vesuvius erupts in a torrent of blazing lava, Milo must fight his way out of the arena in order to save his beloved as the once magnificent Pompeii crumbles around him.

So… Rome, yeah!!! I have always loved roman indumentary, i believe they dressed wonderful considereing the time. The costume designer of this movie is Wendy Patridge!! You know her, she did “Thor: The Dark World” (2013) and “Hellboy” (2004) to name a pair!! And she did wonderful.

First of all let me tell you from the start that the costume is NOT historically accurate! The silhouette of ancient Rome was very loose, they dressed themselves with long robes, and managed to get different designs from there.



As you can see, in ancient Rome, women didn´t dress emphasize the femmenine silhouette so much.

In this movie, the costume designer, changed that, she chose to show a very defined femenine silhouette, we can see cleavages, corsets and strips to accentuate the waist.

To appreciate the magnificent detail in the fabrics, you will have to watch the whole movie, because it is filled with art!! Every fabric had a pattern or some kind of embroidery. The armor of the Roman Senator had so much detail, such care in the visual part that you will come to love it!

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The other thing i loved about this movie were the colors used!! I mean everything is shiny or delicate making every scene visually pretty.


In this particular scene, the whole family and the Roman senator were wearing purple. Purple was a color that only royalty could wear, of course this clasification of the color came much after the Roman Empire, but i believe the costume designer used it to sepparate them from the rest of the mob!


That´s how we can differentiate the rich from the poor, the social class and the beauty. The colors used for each character were choosen very carefuly, because they make it easier for us to get to know the characters.

So please watch this movie, it has a very beautifull love story and a great costume design, i promise!!

Not to mention the hotties in this movie!!

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Hope you like it!!!


Colleen Atwood´s “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events” (2004)

This is one particular movie i love! It´s a great story succesfully transfered into motion picture. It has has an amazing cast, Jim Carrey is particularly brilliant as Count Olaf. Every scene in this movie is absolutely beautiful. I hope you do see it.


This movie is based on the first three novels, The Bad Beginning, The Reptile Room and The Wide Window in Lemony Snicket´s books series.

So… as always a brief intro about the movie. Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire are three intelligent young children who receive terrible news that their parents have died in a fire and have left them an enormous fortune not to be used until the eldest child is of age. When they are sent to live with Count Olaf, a greedy distant relative, they soon learn he is trying to steal their fortune for himself.

They said that the story is very episodic, so they picked a different color scheme for each section. For example, Count Olaf’s house has a lot of greens, blacks and grays; the house of Uncle Monty has a lot of greens and browns and a bit of yellow; and the house of Aunt Josephine has blues and blacks. I think the color palette is very importants in any movie, it sets the mood, a well chosen palette can really make you believe you are part of this story. This movie makes me think about a darker side of fantasy. Here is a brief visual demo about this point:

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The characters are so detailed that Jim Carrey´s make-up and hair took three hours to finish. And he has many costumes, he desguises himself many times that allows us as viewers to appreciate every single one of them, and in this movie the sets go along with the costumes, it is really beautiful.

Clearly in every book adaptation to film there is room for the costume designer and the director to make it different, to make it their own version of the tale. So for the fans of these books you can all see that each Baudelaire orphan has one major difference between their movie costume and their wardrobe as described in the books. Klaus in the books is nearly blind without his glasses while, in the movie they are only needed for reading. Sunny in the books hated wearing a pink dress, but in the film her dress had a lot of pink in it. Violet in the book was unable to put braids in her hair because they would stay together, but in the movie she has braids nearly the entire time.  According to the illustrations in the original books, Violet wears a dress with the V-cuffed lower sleeves, Klaus wears a sweater with a button-down shirt underneath, and Sunny wears a small dress. The orphans’ costumes in the movie are noticeably different.  And because of this re interpretation, Colleen Atwood received an Oscar nomination for them in 2004.

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I always like to look up the opinion of the actors who worn these amazing costumes, for example, Emily Browning said this about the costumes in an interview: “The costumes were brilliant, Colleen Atwood is a genius. She is an evil genius because the clothes were so uncomfortable (laughs). They weren’t uncomfortable like a full corset but it was sort of a bodice. I needed heels because Liam was so much taller than me. It didn’t help much because he is so tall. I was so excited when I saw the dress and I thought “I can’t wait to wear it” and then after a week I couldn’t wait to get it off. This was the black dress. The wedding dress I wasn’t allowed to sit in because the material was so fine that it got creased and you couldn’t un-crease it and also the train was so long that it would always get caught on things.”

f031050f915708d75993e47105186db9ca8a4515c42c99d0a8702cec5c5b2dd7 39321_bd Look at Jim Carrey´s costume for the wedding!! It´s amazing, makes him look creepy but elegant in a darker side, he is wearing white jacket, pants  also white wig and pale face! It makes it theatrical enough to believe i´ts fantasy but not enough to be exaggerated, a brilliant balance. And this goes for the rest of the costumes.

So please… check it out you will have fun i promise you that.

Aggie Guerard Rodgers “BeetleJuice” (1988)

Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice!!! Yeah…. I wasn´t even born when this movie came out. But i have strong memories of it.You know when you are little and you see a movie, but you don´t fully understand it? Yeah, this happened to me with Beetlejuice. I saw it very early in life, and to be completley honest i didn´t understand it at all back then, the only thing that my mind remembered about this movie was the clothing.

Maybe it was a sign, that i should be interested in costume design as an adult, i don´t know, but i vividly remember Beetlejuice´s outfitt. The iconic striped suit, the gray “all over the place” hair, the black liner and pale face. It wasn´t until i saw it again in my twenties that i understood the story behind Beetlejuice.


Let me give you some context, for those who haven´t seen this movie. First of all, it was directed by Tim Burton, so as you can expect, it´s gonna be a freaky ride. But i digress…

Adam and Barbara are a normal couple…who happen to be dead. They have given their precious time to decorate the house and make it their own, but unfortunately a family is moving in, and not quietly. Adam and Barbara try to scare them out, and they call upon Beetlejuice to help, but Beetlejuice has more in mind than just helping. The good stuff starts when the new home-owners photographer daughter Lydia (Winona Ryder) gets pulled into the afterlife, you see, Lydia is the only person who can see or communicate with the deceased. I wont be telling more about the story, i need you to see it, you wont regret it.

When you know a movie is about ghosts and afterlife, you usually expect horror, scary scenes, “The Walking Dead” kind of dead. But Tim Burton showed us a new dead, funny world, a world worth watching.

Being a Tim Burton´s film, you expect weird creatures, weirder characters and awesome costumes. So we have this character of Lydia (Winona Ryder), who is a photographer, and a goth. The term “Goth” was really weird at that time, making it one of the awesome things about this movie. It shows a girl obsessed with coffins, black, death and she is not very cheerful. She wears black outfitts and she is considered very very weird, and she looks the part.


Who knew we had been watching a star on the rise on this particular movie right? But more on Beetlejuice please… Beetlejuice’s character is wise cracking con-artist. According to Michael Keaton, the Beetlejuice character was described to him by Tim Burton as “having lived in every time period but no time period.” Keaton used this as the jumping-off point to create the character with such features as a shock hairdo, mold makeup, and large teeth.


There is this scene in this movie that you absolutely have to watch!! It´s a wedding scene, but not a “Twilight Bella/Edward scene”. It´s way better!!!! Lydia (Winona Ryder) wears a bright red dress according to the old rhyme about wedding dress colors, it’s “Married in red, better off dead.” Perfect fit for the movie!!

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There is no detail in this movie that anyone would consider random. The undead have all the features that describe the way they died. For example:

beetlepm2This “Miss Argentina” shows her suicidal cuts on her wrists. When you watch this movie make sure you pay attention to all the undead, the amount of details will shock you! And i know this blog is about costume design, but you also have to appreciate the make up. I have to say that this movie has an amazing makeup and costume balance!

Amazing movie, amazing actors, genius director, please watch it!!

Sandy Powell´s “Orlando” (1992)

I have to give you a little context on why i am writing about this particular movie, “Orlando”(1992). I was in college a few years ago, and one day our teacher, a german costume designer for theater, told us that she was going to show us a marvelous example of costume design for film, so of course i was excited!

She brought a TV into the room and gave us a little intro of the movie. You see, there is one amazing thing abut this story, not only the main character Orlando (Tilda Swinton) is immortal, which in this case means that you get to see fashion trough several centuries, but she also impersonates both male and female roles.

It is an amazing movie with an amazing actress. I like to believe that this film needed Tilda Swinton to play Orlando, because she is one of the few actresses that have an adrogyn look!!


So this movie is about the young nobleman Orlando is commanded by Queen Elizabeth I to stay forever young. And being her humble servant, he obliges. Orlando moves through several centuries of British history, experiencing a variety of lives and relationships along the way, and even changing sex.

To make a film like this become a visual succes, you need someone who understands the importance of fashion trough time. They made the perfect choice with Sandy Powell. She was responsible for dressing the gorgeous Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise on “Interview with the Vampire”(1994), a film which also tells a tale that happens trough several decades. But let us focus on Orlando for today.

When i saw this movie, i could have sworn that a lot of costume construction was required but, according to costume designer Sandy Powell, the costumes were only made for the principals, and costumes were hired for the extras with additional pieces crudely attached to fit with the world. That makes complete sense, as you know, costume designers also work on a budget, so she had to think of a way of making the main characters look perfect and cut expenses with the costumes of the extras.


It´s key for a costume designer to learn to manage succesfully the budget that has been given to her/him, it goes without saying that Sandy Powell did an amazing job.

There is this particular scene on the movie, that takes place in a very cold place, and the characters were ice skating on a party, the colors and details on the characters are simply brilliant. I do believe it was the most beautiful scene of the whole movie, i hope that you get to see this movie, if only for this scene!


In an interview, Sandy Powell said that: “Costume is more intersting than fashion”, i agree, in costume design there are no limits to what you can do, while in fashion you have to consider the seasons, colors, trends, events of day to day and a complex market study.

“Orlando” (1992) landed her, her first Oscar nomination.


In the subject of designing for a particular period in history, she said that you need to “think of yourself as a fashion designer” for that era or that character. And when looking at period costume “look at all the rules before you can break them”. I believe it is not about achieving impeccable historical accuracy, it is about understanding what that particular period was like, and create a whole new look that carries your personal singature as a designer.

Every designer uses different sources of inspiration, Sandy Powell said that she uses books, whether from her massive store of books, including the photography book “Gypsies”by Josef Koudelka that has been used as inspiration for nearly all of her films. She also draws inspiration from libraries, paintings in art galleries, fashion, and of course internet research. She states that one can find inspiration in anything.


Every designer has a design proces, hers consists on finding reference images, appropriate silhouettes, particularly for period films. Then she will look at fabrics rather than drawing designs. Powell uses fabric as inspiration for costumes and tries out shapes on the stand. Then she will make rough sketches that are only intended for her and the maker, not for presentation to the director. Powell will create costume illustrations after the costumes have been shot on.

She also believes that the costumes sould get lighting tests, because in all her years in the bussines, she learned that certain fabrics ans silohuettes dont match certain lights. She believes that the director of photography and the costume designer should work more closely.

So here is another wonderful movie, i really do hope you see it, you wont regret it, i promise!!

Chung Man Yee´s “The Curse of the Golden Flower”(2006)

Yes… Well, i just had to talk about this particular movie and the breathtaking costume desing. As the movie title says, it´s all gold!!!

This movie takes place during China’s Tang dynasty. The emperor has taken the princess of a neighboring province as wife. She gave him two sons and raised his eldest. Now his control over his dominion is complete, including the royal family itself. He holds the control in a most cruel way, he intends to keep his power for as long as he can by slowly poisoning the empress. She of course finds out the plot his husband has against her and tries to take control. So this is the basic plot, i won´t be telling you the end of this movie, you have to see it on your own.

There’s an old Chinese saying: “Gold and jade on the outside, rot and decay on the inside”. They took this saying very seriously.


When you watch this movie, you will see gold all around, in the settings, the props, the costumes, the head pieces, everything. Zhang said: “Gold is the color of the emperor. So we adopt it in the costume designs.”

The emperor has very complex costumes as well as the empress, they couldnt possibly dress themselves, most of the outfits have four to six layers, so obviously the costumes added more time for the actors to dress up, and the emperor´s costume weighs tens of kilograms. The daily preparations including hair, makeup, and costumes took about three to four hours, said Yee. Each layer has been meticulously handcrafted with intricate details, there is real gold fabric in the Emperor and Empress’s attire. It took 40 artisans over the course of two months to construct each. The end result is astonishing. Yee designed seven costumes for the emperor and empress, and most of the outfits had four to six layers. Each layer was meticulously handcrafted.

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Director Zhang explained that color constituted the film’s major theme. The point was echoed by Yee who said he created, using color elements, a strong contrast between the exterior gold and jade glitter and the internal family darkness.

Dragon patterns are used on the robes, with pearls and diamonds all around. They drew inspiration from the golden flower and put it in the film as a very important symbol. The empress favors the flower as well, in her hair, on her robe, even in embroideries. The flower reveals the empress determination to resist her husband’s rule.

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The women’s costumes are very voluptuous, accentuating the bosom. This is historically accurate, reflecting the hedonism and lavish aesthetic of the Later Tang era.

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The metal nail extensions worn by the Empress, the head accesories, the golden embroidery, every detail was extremely well cared.


The golden head pieces of the empress were exquisite in every way. Made her look like the wealthiest empress there ever was!! Check it out:

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Chung Man Yee recieved an Oscar nomination, his movie has to beat four other top contenders, including The Devil Wears Prada, Dreamgirls, Marie Antoinette and The Queen on The 79th Annual Academy Awards.

I hope you actualy get to see this movie, its like watching something that ought to be in a museum play a living part in a movie.

Anthony Powell´s “Hook” (1991)

Yes, i am on a Villain phase, it´s just that there are so many great ones, i can´t help myself. So i will talk about another one today. Non other than Captain Hook, the evil pirate who seeks to destroy Peter Pan, if you had a childhood, you know who i am talking about. “Hook” (1991), is based on the story and characters of old Disney´s animated film “Peter Pan” (1953).

But first, let me tell you a bit about Anthony Powell, he is a british costume designer, he has worked with directors such as Roman Polanski and Steven Spielberg to name a few. And some of the stars who have worn his creations are Paul Newman, Warren Beatty, Steve McQueen, Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Maggie Smith, Harrison Ford and Johnny Depp. So as you can see, he is kind of a big deal.

You probably will recognize his work from “Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom” (1984), “Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade” (1989) and “Hook” (1991). And im just mentioning the Steven Spielberg ones.

The movie of which i will talk about today, “Hook” (1991) earned him an Academy Award Nomination for best Costume Design, and in a moment you will understand why.

“In the field of obsessive-compulsives, Anthony leads the pack. I don’t know if you can work harder than he works. He gave me the character (of Captain Hook).” –Dustin Hoffman


Dustin Hoffman as “Captain Hook” with director Steven Spielberg.

This film is filled with amazing stars like the late Robin Williams as Peter Pan, Dustin Hoffman as Captain Hook, Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell and Maggie Smith as Granny Wendy.

The movie tells the tale of a grown-up Peter Pan who has forgotten his childhood. Now known as Peter Banning, he is a successful corporate lawyer with a wife and two children. When Hook kidnaps his children, Peter must return to Neverland and reclaim his youthful spirit in order to challenge his old enemy and save his family. It is an amazing adventure, full of life, colors, mermaids and there is a scene with imaginary food that will make you hungry!

Ever since i can remember, whenever i think of Peter Pan and Hook, the only Captain Hook that comes to mind is Dustin Hoffman, there is no one else. The moustache and the curly eyebrows, the red coat and the shinny hook, and that voice, his voice branded the character of Captain Hook forever in my mind.


This character had so much detail printed on him, everything was designed to the point of perfection. As you can see, the golden embroidery gave an elegant touch to the pirate captain. Hook was one of the most fancy villains of my childhood. He had a hook for every ocation and he even put ruby rings on them. He is an impeccable man, always perfectly dressed despite his pirate status. Of course the black wig and that gigantic feathery hat complemented this look beautifully.

It was a perfect costume. The red coat on top of a black vest with gold emboridery and golden buttons, on top of a ruffled white shirt, and those black with red shoes, i mean he didn´t miss a thing, and i am so grateful for that.

After all, a good design its just as good as its details.


Lets not forget about awesome Julia Roberts. She plays Tinkerbell on this movie, and it´s not quite the glamorous look she had on the Disney´s “Peter Pan” (1953). Instead, Anthony Powell gives us a more savage Tinkerbell, he gives us a fairy that clearly lives on the woods of Neverland, and dresses according to it. Her look is more natural, but this is a quality that doesn´t mask her beauty. She is barefoot with a simple brownish long shirt and shorts, giving us the impression that she dresses in those colors so she can merge with the woods, so that she can be seen only when she wants to, like camoulage, only nicer.

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As you can see Anthony Powell had all the characters figured out completely, he had this picture of what the habitants of Wonderland should look like and why. Everything had a reason, every color meant something, and every character reflected a srtong personality by just looking at it, this is achieved in a great part thanks to the costume design.

It does take me back, when i used to watch “Hook” on VHS, i waited for 5 minutes until the movie was completely rewind so i can watch it all over again!! And then i did the same thing to Watch Disney´s “Peter Pan” (1953). It was my favourite tale, it had everything a child could want! A place to runaway so that you dont have to grow old, mermaids, pirates, fairys, the lost boys, indians. Steven Spielberg understood the whole idea, and he projected it on screen so good you just have to remember it.

Colleen Atwood´s “Snow White and the Huntsman” (2012)

Since we are in the Awesome Villains topic, let me introduce to you, the evil queen Ravenna of “Snow White and the Huntsman” (2012).


Yes guys! It is Charlize Theron playing Ravenna, the evil dark queen in “Snow White and the Huntsman” (2012). I do think Charlize Theron is one of the most beautiful women that walks this earth, so naturally this role was perfect for her.

Not just any Costume Designer could turn Charlize Theron into Ravenna, so, clearly they called one of the best, non other than Colleen Atwood. She is the Alexander McQueen of the costume design world, and she NEVER disappoints!

You know Colleen Atwood from her multiple collaborations with Tim Burton and Rob Marshall. She was the Costume Designer on “Edward Scissorhands”1990, ” Sleepy Hollow” 1999, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” 2007, “Alice in Wonderland” 2010 (she won an Oscar for this one), “Chicago” 2002 (she won antoher Oscar for this one) and “Memoirs of a Geisha”2005 (and another Oscar for this one).

She was part of the team that brought this version of Snow White´s tale to the big screen, and it was really awesome. But this time i won´t be talking about all the costumes in this movie, least of all, Snow White´s. I will only talk about Ravenna, because let´s face it, she outshines everything and everyone else in this movie.
Besides, the complexity of her costume implies that she is the most important character of the whole movie. I saw this movie always following Ravenna´s story, i never tought of Snow White as the lead character or something essential in the story, she was more like the excuse to bring Ravenna to life. After all, you can´t have a villain without a good guy.
When i saw this movie, i simply couldn´t stop staring at Charlize! She was magnificent, and the costume looked as perfect for her as a second skin. The costume design made me believe that someone so beautifull, could actually be that evil and cold.
As you know (if you watched the movie , of course) Ravenna starts as a beautiful bride to be, that evolves into an evil queen, so naturally Ravenna´s costume starts bright, with golden shades and ivory fabrics.
This golden/white wedding gown has this amazing shoulder piece that looks like very thin branches of wood braided together giving us the impresion of a cage.
As the movie goes on you can actually see her getting darker, and i noticed that there´s always an element of death in her costumes. Her blue costume is made with beetle wings from Thailand, another of her costumes has a reptilian quality and the feather cape looks like thousands of crows gave their lives simply to dress Ravenna.
All of these costumes are so loyal to Ravenna, that we can actually see this persona come to life! We can imagine all of these gowns, hanging in her closet.
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All of the accesories are designed to make her seem more deadly, like her fang shaped rings, the cleavage in this dress appears to be made from tiny skulls of some kind of bird, and the metallic dark crown that gives the final edgy touch to the look.
You can see that all the crowns are made from darker shades of gold and silver, and they are all really sharp. You cannot associate Ravenna with amazing shiny gold crowns, there is always that dark and deadly element of her nature impregnated in her looks.


As you can see, costume design helps us to understand the nature and personality of each charcater. And, if you think about it, it makes all the sense in the world. Each of us dresses according to our own personality. We feel off when we use something that isn´t ours or comething that doesn´t go with our style, we actually feel uncomfortable. It is the same with characters from a tale or a movie.

All the costume designers have to ask themselves ¿What would this character wear for this scene, and why? ¿How would he/she feel about wearing this particular color or fabric?¿Would he/she buy this necklace?
The more loyal the designer is to a character, the more we can understand it. So in a way, the designer has to become the character itself.
So think about it the next time you go to the movies.