Archivo de la categoría: novel

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!!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!!

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

Jacqueline Durran´s “Anna Karenina” (2012)

You probably know Jaqueline Durran from her work in “Atonement” (2007), who no one, in their right minds could ever forget that gorgeus green dress.

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Yes that movie had an awesome director and costume designer, which also worked together in the movie that i will talk about. The movie inspired in Leon Tolstoi´s Anna Karenina.

Tolstoi´s novel was published in 1877, it´s a critic against imperial Russia. Surely you know about Imeprial Russia, the poor were extremely poor and the rich were obscenely rich, this movie tells the tale about Anna Karenina, memeber of the aristocracy, who is envolved in a love scandal.

This movie is directed by Joe Wright and the Costume Designer and Oscar Winner Jaqueline Durran.

One of the things that i loved about this movie is that the whole film was set in a theatrical setting, the scenery moved as it changed from scene to scene, and actors elegantly moving in and out of each set.

It was absolutley refreshing to see a movie filmed this way, it´s an amazing way to mix theater and film.

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Beside the beautiful settings, the costume was amazing, i mean Oscar Winner amazing. It was not a costume made 100% historically accurate, Jaqueline Durran mixed the silohuettes so it would look more stylish. So she looked up the 1950´s silhouette, and took inspiration from Christian Dior, Balenciaga and Lanvin from the Fifties and mixed it up with 1870´s couture. Of course Charles Frederick Worth also played and important part in the inspiration for the costume design of this movie.

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The final result was a rare mix of 1870´s skirt shapes with 1950´s inspired bodices making a beautiful and creative new figure.

Anna Karenina, played by Keira Knightley, had to reflect the wealth and lifestyle aristocrats had in that time, so there was fur, and a grat deal of jewelry, mostly pearls and diamonds, all of the jewelry were authentic gorgeous Chanel pieces.

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But let´s not forget the gorgeus male lead role Vronsky, played by Aaron Taylor Jhonson. Vronsky, Anna´s lover and an officer in a regiment of soldiers. It was always a universal fact that men in unifrom are hot, no matter what historical time we talk about, and this guy is definitely not the exception.

Most of the time he wore a series of minimalist, double-breasted wool coats in shades of pale blue, gray, and snow white. My personal favourite is the white one, this particular costume made him look elegant, classy, impecable and seductive all at the same time.

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There is a scene where Anna Karenina and Vronsky dance at a party, her black dress and his white uniforme formed a beautiful balance, it is a scene so enchanting you literally can´t stop watching them dance.

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I really recommend this movie, it is a visual delight. And i do hope you see it, because we rarely see this kind of creativity in film.