Magazine article Variety

Movie Outfits Go on a Journey

Magazine article Variety

Movie Outfits Go on a Journey

Article excerpt

IN ANY GIVEN MOVIE, costumes are about evolution: As a character's story is told, so do her clothes evolve - or de-evolve - in tandem. And the journeys this year's Oscar nominees for costume design have taken them in are both familiar and entirely unique.

Jacqueline Durran holds two slots in this year's set of five nominees, and couldn't have worked on two more different films. "Beauty and the Beast" is a live-action retelling of the 1991 Disney animated classic, and arguably Durran had it easy: the audience knew what to expect from the signature outfits. That meant starting out with Belle (Emma Watson) in her 18th century French country girl uniform: a blue dress with practical pockets and bloomers. Once inside the castle, audiences would want to see her in the tulle, satin and taffeta yellow dress she waltzes in with the Beast (Dan Stevens). But Durran considered things a step further: any outfits in the castle had to look as if they were MADE by the castle; this led to Beast's ragged fabric patchwork, and even threaded into his earthy, regal formal look.

Durran's palette for "Darkest Hour" was considerably smaller: wartime London was not a place for yellows and taffeta. It also took place over a relatively short period of time, so the focus was more on transforming Gary Oldman into Winston Churchill than showing the man himself changing over the years. For help, Durran solicited tailors and companies who outfitted the real Churchill and had them create suits to evoke his quirks and needs that could fit Oldman. What emerged was a sort of modern armor: Winston's black suit, white handkerchief, bowtie and Homburg hat. With Churchill it was about ease in his dressing; for example, his shoes featured a zip, rather than laces.

London was also the setting for "Phantom Thread," in which mercurial couture designer Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) finds a strange kind of love, and changes in the process. Mark Bridges had the challenge of creating not just outfits for the cast, but also to fashion the dresses Woodcock himself would make. A dressmaker who avoids fast fashion and pours his heart and soul into the outfits, Woodcock's dresses are beautifully made, but not showstoppers. …

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