Tuesday, July 24, 2012

#MTOS Questions - Costume Design

Velvet Goldmine (Costume Design: Sandy Powell)

I'm excited to host #MTOS on this coming Sunday.  I wanted to choose something that often goes overlooked, yet is absolutely critical in film.  Many do not notice or appreciate the effort that goes into costume design, especially in terms of character and plot development.  So here are the questions I will be asking:

1.  How important is Costume Design in film? - I'll give one example for how I feel Costume Design (CD) adds depth to a character.  In The Big Lebowski (CD by Mary Zophres), every outfit The Dude wears SCREAMS Dude.  Think of how different the whole film would be if not for Dude, Walter, and Donny's costumes; and how AMAZING is Jesus' costume?!?! I will also point out that it's not just the costume but how it is worn that is vital.  Everything is deliberate - it's no mistake when a character's clothes are a wrong size, or have sweat stains, etc.

2.  Is there a difference between costume design and fashion in film? - Are lines blurred with movies like Sex and the City and The Devil Wears Prada, especially in contrast to films like The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind?

3.  Do you think one influences the other? - One example: after Adrian designed a white gown with exaggerated sleeves for Joan Crawford in Letty Lynton, Macy's began selling a copied version and stock sold out immediately.

4.  Unfortunately, many only know of Edith Head and Sandy Powell.  Who are other Costume Designers that must be noted? - I suggest looking up the work of Adrian, Travilla, Jean Louis, Walter Plunkett, and Helen Rose (who even designed Grace Kelly's wedding gown)

Stormy Weather (1943; CD by Helen Rose)

5.  What is the most iconic costume in film worn by a single character and how has it helped define him/her/it? 

6.  What film do you feel has the best use of costume design of all time? - Personal favorites are Saturday Night Fever (CD by Patrizia von Brandenstein) and The Women (gowns by Adrian)

7.  Are costumes more interesting in a period piece film or a contemporary film?

8.  What film had the best costume design from 2011-2012? (so far) - My vote? Drive (CD by Erin Benach).  The use of the scorpion jacket (and how it transitions with dirt, blood, etc.) absolutely captivated me.

9.  What film do you think had the worst costume design of all time? - I personally don't have an answer for this but I know some people who have issues with altering the classic uniforms of superheroes in many films (ex - a strict purist I know hated the minor changes made to Superman's uniform in Superman Returns).

10.  Which directors do you believe utlize(d) the power of costume design most effectively in their films?  - A strong case could be made for Hitchcock.  He was notorious for his extreme involvement in planning the costumes of his muses with Edith Head.  The costumes in his films were laden with symbolism; each detail mattered.

That's all for now.  I'm looking forward to hearing all your answers on Sunday!