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1 THE ART OF BECOMING Sponsor’s foreword Preface Debbie Reynolds

9 11

Setting the scene: a short history of Hollywood costume design 1910–2012  12 Deborah Nadoolman Landis

What is costume design?  Deborah Nadoolman Landis


The costume of silent comedy David Robinson



Sound comedy: louder and funnier John Landis


Designing The Last Emperor  James Acheson


Silhouettes of seduction Jean Druesedow


The process of transformation  Kristin M. Burke


Hollywood and history Edward Maeder


Designing for the Coen Brothers  Mary Zophres


Banton’s beauties  Deborah Nadoolman Landis


Transformations: Johnny Depp Keith Lodwick


Costume and fashion  Valerie Steele


Creative collaborations  Edith Head and Alfred Hitchcock Martin Scorsese and Sandy Powell Mike Nichols and Ann Roth Tim Burton and Colleen Atwood


Beaton’s Fair Lady  Keith Lodwick


Unfashioning costume design  Booth Moore


Transformations: Robert de Niro Keith Lodwick


Transformations: Meryl Streep Keith Lodwick


Ann Roth in conversation  Peter Biskind


Moving pictures, silent movies and the art of William Hogarth Aileen Ribeiro

3 collectors & collecting 4 new frontiers The exhibition odyssey  Deborah Nadoolman Landis


Looking behind the wizard’s curtain  Christopher Frayling


The treasure hunt  Keith Lodwick


Showcasing the talent  Sam Gatley


A collectors’ tale  Larry McQueen 


A studio perspective  Deidre Thieman 


Actress and collector  Debbie Reynolds 


Blades  Christopher Frayling


Gunslingers  Christopher Frayling


90027, Hollywood is a zip code: the LA connection  Beth Werling


Afterlife: ensuring the enduring interest of a web audience  Chris Laverty


Why design?  Jeffrey Kurland


Fantasy, sci-fi and superheroes  Jacob McMurray


The challenges of Mocap and CGI  Joanna Johnston




Further reading 




Acknowledgements  314 Index 


Picture credits 


Adrian was my favourite designer. He and I had the same sense of ‘smell’ about what clothes should do and what they should say. katharine hepburn


hollywood costume


7 Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn) The Philadelphia Story, 1940 Costume designer Adrian left

8 Anni Pavlovitch (Joan Crawford) The Bride Wore Red, 1937 Costume designer Adrian above

9 Joan Crawford with one of Adrian’s designs for The Bride Wore Red, 1937

setting the scene: a short history of costume design


it’s a story point, dresses from head to toe with one designer all bought three weeks ago at Barneys. You wear something from five years ago, you have something favorite, you mix this, you mix that, something got a little tight on you, something’s more worn than something else. That’s what clothes are about. That’s what we have to accomplish designing modern costumes.115 Fashion’s ever-passionate love affair with Hollywood heated up. This symbiotic relationship benefits fashion designers by associating their name with a film and an actor and by giving them licence to market clothes popularized by a film; and it benefits the producer by providing cash to offset costs, clothing and free advertising. The sacrifice can be the integrity of the story and the film. The director and the costume designer may argue vigorously against the intrusion of fashion labels and product placement, while the producer may be faced with a choice between making art and making money. Most just try to do their best not to lose money. Audiences continue to want to dress like their favourite stars. The green bias-cut gown created by costume designer Jacqueline Durran for Atonement (2007; plate 315) spawned thousands of copies, introducing bright green to the prom dress market seen at graduation parties everywhere in 2007. With a modern sensibility aimed at re-creating the height of the Golden Age, Durran said, ‘We used a modern aesthetic with ’30s shapes. We literally made everything for the ’30s scenes, finding original costumes and using shapes from that era remade with modern fabrics.’116 The 2000s have provided Hollywood costume designers much to sing about. Colleen Atwood has continued her role as muse to directors Tim Burton and Rob Marshall. Of her collaboration with Marshall for Chicago (2002; plate 306) she has said: Rob definitely had a vision of the film, but as far as specifics about the costumes, he was very open to what I thought. We tried to keep a contrast between the real world Roxie lived in and the imagined world of the stage. It’s like a parallel universe.117 For Dreamgirls (2006), designer Sharen Davis worked closely with the film’s stars: Beyoncé said the costumes forced her into a position of such uprightness that it gave her absolute confidence in what she was doing as a performer, while Jennifer [Hudson] said it made her feel like a Barbie, and made her stand up straight, which she didn’t like to do!118

conclusion Over the past century Hollywood films have become part of our shared global mythology. During the Golden Age of Hollywood the talent and craftsmanship at work in the major studios were of such a high calibre that even the ‘B-pictures’ displayed a level of storytelling that remains unequalled. Costume designers today continue to work in motion pictures using the same creative process and


hollywood costume

values. It is the success or failure in telling a story that makes a film a classic or instantly forgettable. Whether it scared us, made us laugh or cry or just amazed us, the finished product, the film itself, is what makes these clothes in Hollywood Costume so special. Mary Lea Bandy, retired director of the Film Department at the Museum of Modern Art, once asked me: ‘Isn’t there a better word for what you do than “costume”?’ Her point hit home. The word ‘costume’ summons images of Halloween, carnival, circus and masked balls, where it is decorative, embellished, and an intrinsic part of spectacle. But cinema costuming aspires to be much more than superficial style. The characters are just like us – with a life lived before each film begins. Our clothes are inextricably part of our identity and our memory. The costume designer and actor search for that truth together. When Robert De Niro was honoured with an American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Award, Martin Scorsese said: ‘To be certain, he has an extraordinary genius to be able to transform himself, to undergo a metamorphosis, and to simply be, just BE the person he’s playing.’ The clothes in Hollywood Costume are memorable because of the rich collaborative film-making process that creates great movies. Costumes are one tool that the film-maker has to tell the story. Nothing in the film frame is arbitrary and nothing is allowed to get in the way of the script. The ‘best’ costume design may be invisible. Director Sidney Lumet captured the essence when he said, ‘Good style, to me, is unseen style. It is style that is felt.’ Dorothy’s gingham dress instantly brings that particular MGM picture to mind. The hat and leather jacket belonging to Indiana Jones and Holly Golightly’s little black dress will always be identified with the films in which they appear (Raiders of the Lost Ark and Breakfast at Tiffany’s) and the actors who played those characters (Harrison Ford and Audrey Hepburn). Our expectation is to be entirely seduced, and that is what the film-maker must deliver if he or she expects us to care about their journey, to love the film and to elevate the characters into icons.


37 Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) Titanic, 1997 Costume designer Deborah L. Scott above

38 Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) Titanic, 1997 Costume designer Deborah L. Scott right

39 Sketch for Rose DeWitt Bukater Titanic, 1997 Costume designer Deborah L. Scott Illustrator David Le Vey

above left

40 Sketch for Viola De Lesseps Shakespeare in Love, 1998 Costume designer and illustrator Sandy Powell above right

41 Satine (Nicole Kidman) Moulin Rouge!, 2001 Costume designers Catherine Martin and Angus Strathie left

42 Viola De Lesseps and William Shakespeare (Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes) Shakespeare in Love, 1998 Costume designer Sandy Powell opposite

43 Sketch for Satine Moulin Rouge!, 2001 Costume designers Catherine Martin and Angus Strathie Illustrator Angus Strathie


hollywood costume

What is costume design?  Deborah Nadoolman Landis


ilms are about people: they are at the emotional core and it is their story that moves us. It is the characters in the stories who hold our attention, provide the action and establish the framework for a screenplay. Although clues to the character are set within the script, it is the interpretation by the actor and the director and their key collaborators that breathes life and personality into each fictional being. Harrison Ford explains: ‘The role of an actor is to serve as a mirror. My job is not to show you that the character and I have something in common. My job is to show you that you and the character – even one who may seem a little crazy – have something in common.’ In the cinema, the actor must fully inhabit the character; the audience’s suspension of disbelief is essential. Costume design is not just about the clothes: in film, it has both a narrative and a visual mandate. Designers serve the script and the director by creating authentic characters and by using colour, texture and silhouette to provide balance within the composition of the frame. The costume designer must first know who the character is before approaching this challenge. Over the past century costume designers have practised a discrete and formal design process, beginning with the written word of the screenplay, discussion with the director, collaboration with the actor and research. For each production costume designers compile a scrapbook of photos, historic text, family albums, home movies, yearbooks, hair and make-up styles, sketches, fabric swatches, and virtually any visual reference that they can acquire. This research volume, the designer’s ‘bible’, may take the form of a binder, a notebook or a website. It is shared with all key creative collaborators – the director, actor, cinematographer and production designer, and with the hair and make-up artists. The costume designer will also use the ‘bible’ as the centrepiece for discussions with the costume crew. We do not simply make things up, we will need to justify each choice. Whatever the genre, whether the budget is low or high, whether or not the film becomes a classic, the costume designer approaches each production in the same way. No matter in what the era the story is set, the audience is asked to believe that the people in the movie are real and that they had a life prior to the start of the action. We join our cast


the art of becoming

of characters at one moment in their life. Everything about them must ring true, including their clothes. In the same way, our own clothes take our life journey with us: we all wear an amalgam of stories, each item telling its own unique tale. Everything, including our earrings, shoes, socks, watch, trousers, shirt, necklace, jacket, ring and suit, have been purchased, inherited, gifted, stolen or borrowed at different moments of our life. We all wear a mix of clothes, some old and some new. People also wear tattoos and piercings, nail polish, crazy hair colour and cut. These details provide others with more than a clue about our own personal style. Our clothing can also reveal and conceal our moods, taste and personality, our social and economic aspirations and the time in which we live. Clothes function as social and emotional signposts. In the same way costumes provide the audience with essential information. Attention to detail is the hallmark of great costuming. The audience’s attention is focused on that which the director chooses to reveal. A close-up may emphasize or disclose details – a cuff, a lapel or a piece of jewellery – for a deliberate narrative purpose. The integrity of the story takes precedence over a gorgeous gown – glamorous clothes, when inappropriate, can sabotage a serious scene. Regardless of whether a film is period, fantasy or modern, all require research. Designers are inspired by art, literature, photography, nature, music, childhood memories, other films, and freely associate all of these. For Dreamgirls (2006; plates 45, 46), a musical based on girl bands of the early 1960s, costume designer Sharen Davis remembers that she ‘looked at magazines like Ebony and Life, and footage from the Motown era, and appearances on “American Bandstand”’. Janty Yates, longtime costume collaborator of director Ridley Scott, recalls: ‘On Gladiator [2000], he suggested, “Look at Alma-Tadema for the crowd.” Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema painted Roman scenes in the late 1800s, using pastels – so I used pistachios, pinks, almonds and sky blue for the extras’. For the Coen Brothers’ Western True Grit (2010), designer


44 Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) Fight Club, 1999 Costume designer Michael Kaplan

transformations johnny depp Keith Lodwick

I always picture it as this chest of drawers in your body – Ed Wood is in one, The Mad Hatter is in another, Edward Scissorhands is in another. johnny depp 1

Since his breakthrough role in Edward Scissorhands (1990), Johnny Depp has become one of Hollywood’s most established and versatile actors. He has played an eclectic range of characters, from portrayals of real people such as 1950s cult film director Edward Wood Jr in Ed Wood (1994) and Peter Pan creator J.M. Barrie in Finding Neverland (2004), to characters of urban legend – Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) and Ichabod Crane in Sleepy Hollow (1999). His success is complemented by the close rapport he has built up with the costume designers who have helped him bring his characters to the screen, and describes that moment of assuming a character through costume: ‘It’s always great to have that layer of the character’s clothing – the skin. It helps you find your posture, how does the character stand?’2 Edward Scissorhands was designed by Colleen Atwood, whose long-term collaboration with Johnny Depp and director Tim Burton has lasted over twenty years. Burton credits Atwood with helping Depp fully realize the look for Edward: ‘I can have an idea about something, and Johnny can have an idea, but especially with the more extreme characters, it really does take the costume to fully get the feeling of it.’3 Atwood has described how she and Depp have created some of his most memorable characters, from crossdressing Ed Wood to murderous Sweeney Todd: ‘Johnny is the kind of artist that feels his costume so as soon as I see he’s connecting with something, I go for it. As an artist he understands the process, so is always open to new ideas. His sense of play is unique.’4 Costume designer Renée Ehrlich Kalfus worked with Depp on two films, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993) and Chocolat (2000); she explains how they created the character of Gilbert Grape together: Gilbert was the eldest son in a dysfunctional family, and was


the art of becoming

responsible for providing for them. They had very little money. A key part of Johnny’s discovery of Gilbert came from an old pair of work boots that I bought from a customer in an Army Navy store. I traded him a new pair for his very beat up old pair. I brought these old used boots to Johnny along with many frayed vintage shirts and worn jeans. A transformation took place in the fitting room. There seemed to be a way these specific pieces felt on him, which he responded to. He talked about the costumes and how they felt right. It is really a thrill to see an actor walk into a dressing room and walk out as their character. Johnny liked how old and worn the costumes were and they helped him in his discovery of Gilbert.5

A good costume is ‘really about a great

silhouette. So if you can create a great costume through that with colour and shape, people will get the picture. Colleen Atwood

82 Edward Scissorhands (Johnny Depp) Edward Scissorhands, 1990 Costume designer Colleen Atwood

83 Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp) Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, 1998 Costume designer Julie Weiss 84 Ed Wood (Johnny Depp) Ed Wood, 1994 Costume designer Colleen Atwood 85 Sam and Juniper ‘Joon’ Pearl (Johnny Depp and Mary Stuart Masterson) Benny and Joon, 1993 Costume designer Aggie Guerard Rodgers 86 The Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) Alice in Wonderland, 2010 Costume designer Colleen Atwood

the costume of silent comedy  David Robinson


he costume of comedy stands apart. In other film genres, actors wear clothes that identify their roles – by period, ethnicity, nationality, class or character – or enhance their personal allure. The comedian’s clothes, on the contrary, are functional, tools of the trade, aiming in themselves to be a cause of laughter. From the beginning, comedy followed a course of evolution different from other genres. While these had to wait to be invented, film comedy derived directly from a long heritage. Director Mack Sennett, wrote James Agee, ‘took his comics out of music halls, burlesque, vaudeville, circuses and limbo, and through them he tapped in on that great pipeline of horsing and miming which runs back unbroken through the fairs of the Middle Ages at least to Ancient Greece’. Even before Sennett and Hollywood, the infant cinemas of France and Italy had recruited clowns from circus and popular theatre and won a world market with hundreds of fiveminute, one-joke knockabout farces, generally culminating in a wild chase. The comedians brought their tricks and tumbles and grimaces from long-practised stage turns and played them before the cameras on the streets of Paris and Nice, Rome or Turin. As production became more organized and the films grew in length to 10 or 15 minutes, the companies discovered the strategy of producing them in series, each featuring an individual clown. Under their screen names – among the most famous of scores of them were Boireau, Prince, Onésime in France and Cretinetti (Boireau renamed), KriKri, Polidor, Robinet in Italy – they were the cinema’s first true box-office stars (plates 116, 117, 118). These early clowns depended on their faces and their antics for laughter: few adopted recognizable characteristic costumes – any sufficiently extravagant variant on the day’s fashions would do, so long as it was ready to be ripped, wrecked, hooked on fishing rods or soaked in paint, tar, treacle or any other malevolent substance.


115 Charles Chaplin, c.1915

The cinema’s first recognizable comic costume is the most unexpected because in itself it is not comic at all. Max Linder (plate 119) began his career as a legitimate actor, but from 1905 eked out his income by playing in comedy films at the Pathé Studios for 20 francs a day plus compensation when his clothes were damaged. From 1910 Pathé featured Linder in his own Max series: in all he was to conceive, direct and star in some four hundred comedies. His output and invention were prodigious, establishing a huge repertoire of gags which was in large part to shape the whole future of visual film comedy: Chaplin, never inclined to admire other artists, called Linder ‘The Master’. The character that Linder created was a handsome and stylish young boulevardier. His hair was sleek, his moustache perfectly trimmed; he wore an elegant cutaway, a beautiful cravat, the fanciest of waistcoats, a gleaming silk hat and perfect shoes. He was smart, intelligent and resourceful, possibly living above his income and with an eye for the fair sex which was always getting him into some sort of trouble, out of which he generally extricated himself. The comedy lay in the contrast between this exquisite person and the ludicrous annoyances that assailed him in the shape of taking a bath, climbing a mountain, jealous husbands, dogs, cats and smelly feet. Remarkably, however extravagant the adventures, the costume was rarely impaired. Perhaps it was just too expensive to risk: one of the purely incidental pleasures of Max Linder comedies is to relish male couture of the Belle Epoque at its most exquisite. Linder’s recognition of the comic effect of juxtaposing supreme elegance with the absurd has been profitably exploited by comediennes from Mabel Normand and Marion Davies to Mae West, Lucille Ball and Marilyn Monroe, and by one notable male Hollywood comedy star, Raymond Griffith. Even his trim figure, smoothed hair and neat moustache recalled Linder. To the top hat, white tie and tails he added a watch-chain and opera cloak, and thus attired faced a hostile world, to which he generally proved serenely superior. In Hands Up! (1926; plate 120) the costume serves him in his role as a spy in the Civil War, variously faced by a firing squad (whose aim he distracts by tossing into the air plates conjured from beneath the cloak) and hostile Indians who are won over when he offers them a stylish Charleston as an improvement


hollywood and history  Edward Maeder


he way in which each generation views the world is shaped by the times in which it lives, and this is nowhere more evident than in period films. These present to a contemporary audience an interpretation of unfamiliar worlds through modern eyes, shaped by all the tastes and sensibilities of its own time. Certainly costume designers in the world of historic films strive for authenticity, to transcend contemporary fashion, creating costumes that will often appear to be faithful re-creations of clothes from an earlier era. Their audiences may not be aware, however, that these costumes reflect their own standards of style or ideas of beauty – that the cave-dwellers’ costumes in One Million B.C. (1940) are cut to emphasize the 1940s silhouette, for example, as were the corsets and crinolines of Gone with the Wind (1939). These realizations only emerge with the passing of time, as tastes change with subsequent generations. A second driving force behind costume design for historic films is the medium itself: the quest for authenticity must be tempered by the expectations and acceptance of the audience. Perhaps one of the most impressive depictions on film of ancient Egypt was the wildly successful Cleopatra (1934) starring Claudette Colbert as the renowned Queen of Egypt. The original designs were created in close consultation with a learned Egyptologist to ensure that they were historically ‘authentic’; but they were rejected by Colbert. Creative genius and Paramount’s chief costume designer Travis Banton was called in to save the day and his stunning gowns swept away the public. Colbert’s pleated gown of glittering gold lamé could have been worn by any socialite to a grand evening party in 1934. The all-encompassing influence of art moderne can been seen in every aspect of the film, from the shape of the flowers to the curves of the Egyptian queen herself – and the effect on screen was breathtaking.

One of the most extravagant costume films in history was Marie Antoinette (1938; plate 169), with more than 2,500 costumes. Although endless research, including a number of trips to Europe to purchase fabrics and furnishings, had been carried out at great expense, the talented costume designer Gilbert Adrian employed the dressmaking practices of his time. He used biascut swags of silver tissue, even though dress trimmings in the eighteenth century were never cut on the bias. Even the towering white wigs (there were 22 for Marie Antoinette alone), also well researched by Sidney Guilaroff, the highly gifted and prolific wig master/designer for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, were purely in the style of nineteenth-century ancien régime revival. Norma Shearer, in the title role, had particularly beautiful shoulders and Adrian ensured that these were prominently displayed, even though


168 Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) Gone with the Wind, 1939 Costume designer Walter Plunkett 169 Wardrobe expert Otto Kottka adjusting John Barrymore’s costume during production of Marie Antoinette, 1938 Costume designer Adrian


banton’s beauties Deborah Nadoolman Landis

Travis Banton knew how to dress a woman. as one colleague remarked, ‘Carole Lombard was just a tootsie when she came to Paramount, but Banton saw things in her that even she didn’t know she had’. Now obscured by the substantial shadow of MGM’s Adrian, costume designer and magician Travis Banton conjured the glamour of Paramount’s Golden Age, creating luminous designs for legendary stars Mae West, Claudette Colbert, Carol Lombard and the extraordinary Marlene Dietrich. The ‘less is more’ treatment worked for the brassy blonde Lombard, who played comedy in understated clothes that were never funny. Colbert never looked more at ease than when practically naked in Banton’s cut-tothe-waist gowns for Cleopatra (1934). And he could pile the jewels on Dietrich without ever gilding that lily. As Paramount’s chief costume designer from 1927 to 1938, and with well over a hundred film credits to his name, Banton’s ravishing work includes the timeless classics Blonde Venus (1932), Belle of the Nineties (1934) and My Man Godfrey (1936). Heralded by Paramount co-founder Jesse Lasky as a ‘famous Parisian designer’, Banton was hired by the studio in 1924 to design The Dressmaker from Paris (1925), which Lasky promoted as ‘a parade of fashion and beauty unprecedented in the history of films’. The studios of the day leveraged the allure of new fashions to seduce a female audience, but with his theatre background Banton understood that designing costumes was not all about being dressmaker. He insisted: My aim is for the legitimate. When a woman is required to dress for golf in a certain scene there is really no point in making her seem ready for a dance at the country club. When she is fitted with a bathing suit it should at least look suitable for water. Keeping this in mind … I then muster new fashions and modify and adjust them to the needs of the role. Like Adrian, Banton created distinctive personas for each actress while enabling them to fully


defining the character

inhabit the characters in the story. Because he was responsible for so many memorable gowns, it may come as a surprise that Banton believed that ‘character’ comes first. But his creative process always included his star:

176 Travis Branton and Marlene Dietrich on the set of Angel, 1937 177 Travis Branton and Carole Lombard on the set of Rumba, 1935 opposite

178 Carole Lombard, 1933

I unfailingly discuss their reactions to a role – how they wish to look for the part; and between the stars’ own conception of character and their own intrinsic personalities a very satisfactory result is attained. Each star has her own particular idiosyncrasies, I might say, ‘hallucinations,’ as to her defects and best points. These must be tactfully and diplomatically approached and overcome. Hollywood columnist Hedda Hopper remarked that before Dietrich met Travis, she looked more like a hausfrau. Banton worked tirelessly with Dietrich and director Joseph Von Sternberg to craft her public image; they were a team for whom the

transformations robert de Niro Keith Lodwick

The American actor, producer and director Robert De Niro is one of the most respected actors of his generation. He is best known for his roles as the younger version of Marlon Brando’s infamous Don, Vito Corleone, in The Godfather, Part II (1974); cab driver Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver (1976); Michael Vronsky in The Deer Hunter (1978); casino director Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein in Casino (1995); and, more recently, as Jack Byrnes in Meet the Parents (2000) and Meet the Fockers (2004). De Niro has produced more than thirty films, in many of which he also starred, and directed two, A Bronx Tale (1993) and The Good Shepherd (2006). Robert De Niro’s gallery of gangsters and underdogs has created some of the most memorable characters in cinema history. His reputation

as one of the film industry’s most highly regarded and versatile actors developed from his intense early roles. He won his first Academy Award for The Godfather, Part II (plate 212). His reputation was cemented with his characterization of Travis Bickle in Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver (plate 216). Famously, he drove a cab around New York – the proud holder of a licence – only to be accosted by a passenger who sympathized: ‘You won an Oscar, and you’re back to doing this?’ His immersion in his characters is legendary, assisted by his close collaboration with production and costume designers. For his transformation into Travis Bickle he worked with Ruth Morley, who remembers that when she found the checked shirt, army jacket and

trousers for him to wear, he was very keen to put them on: Some wardrobe people would get hysterical… But I said: ‘Look, if he really wants to live in it for a while, sleep in it, let him!’ I knew with Bobby there was no question that he would lose it. He loved it too much.1 For The Deer Hunter (plate 215), costumed by Eric Seelig, all members of the cast were expected to ‘go beyond themselves’ to achieve the look and feel that director Michael Cimino wanted: ‘Those guys, I had them sleep in their uniforms and never take them off, wet or dry, for one entire month. They never shaved, they never bathed, which is what happens in combat.’ 2


212 Sketch for Vito Corleone The Godfather, Part II, 1974 Costume designer and illustrator Theadora Van Runkle above

213 Vito Corleone (Robert De Niro) The Godfather, Part II, 1974 Costume designer Theadora Van Runkle


All his costumes become so much a part of his character. It’s not something he’s just thrown on – he really inhabits the clothes. rita ryack

De Niro’s second Academy Award – this time for Best Actor – came for his unforgettable performance as Jake La Motta, in Raging Bull (1980; plate 217). He had to gain 60lb for the role, and even boxed some 1,000 rounds with La Motta himself. His costumes from the film, designed by John Boxer and Richard Bruno, had to accommodate De Niro’s journey from young boxing hero to older club emcee. The design intention of director Martin Scorsese was clear: ‘I [knew] it would help with the look of the film to make it in black and white. We had an idea of making the film look like a tabloid, like the Daily News, like Weegee photographs.’ 3 Sometimes De Niro’s devotion to his performances extends in unexpected directions. In The Untouchables (1987; plate 220) he wore





214 Rupert Pupkin (Robert De Niro) The King of Comedy, 1983 Costume designer Richard Bruno 215 Michael Vronsky (Robert De Niro) The Deer Hunter, 1978 Costume designer Eric Seelig

216 Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) Taxi Driver, 1976 Costume designer Ruth Morley 217 Jake La Motta (Robert De Niro) Raging Bull, 1980 Costume designers John Boxer and Richard Bruno

transformations: robert de niro


fantasy, sci-fi and superheroes  Jacob McMurray


eople have always been drawn to fantastic stories of heroes and villains with incredible powers and prowess, born out of magic, science, or natural ability. Part of this attraction derives from our need to find a meaningful context in a world in which individuals rarely enjoy total control over their destiny. In evolutionary terms, homo sapiens is not far from the cradle and there are Big Questions that have eternally confounded us. Countless creation myths, religions, song cycles, and tall tales have been built around these anxieties and serve to connect us to the universe and the unknown. As complex social creatures with a unique mix of desires, needs and affinities, we have natural conflict within ourselves: try as we might to be good, we’ve all done a little bad. There are everyday heroes and villains, but they pale in comparison to the exploits of the characters that inhabit our fiction. The fact is that we need our heroes, villains, caped crusaders and superhumans, because they are singularly able to mete out awesome justice and terrifying evil. While we may not meet them in our daily lives,1 we encounter them – both admirable and despicable – in novels, comics, games, and the movies. And – oh, yeah – their costumes are really cool. Across the film spectrum costume design helps to define the characters, and in genre films these characters become archetypal and demand to be dressed accordingly. What would Darth Vader be without his iconic helmet and vestments? The Wicked Witch of the West without her pointy black hat? Superman without his primary-colour underpants? With fantastic film, in many ways the costume is the character. Fantasy is the oldest genre of storytelling, with myths and legends appearing in the earliest texts. With the advent of


391 Batman (Christian Bale) Batman Begins, 2005 Costume designer Lindy Hemming right

392 Sketch for Batman The Dark Knight Rises, 2012 Costume designer and illustrator Lindy Hemming


Hollywood Costume  
Hollywood Costume  

Now in paperback, this book celebrates the costume designer’s contribution to the telling of cinematic story in 100 years of Hollywood and e...