Narrative of Costume Design

Lesley McIntee is with Chaos Costuming. She’s been Rolando Molari and a Musketeer this weekend for invention, enjoyment, and sheer fannish joy. She described herself as a refugee from academia and asked that I plug Redemption, the con of which she is ConChair. (It is in February in Coventry.)

She is the moderator.

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw,
The Narrative of Costume Design
Big Bang Press
Costume blogger under Hello, Tailor

film maker vision, whole aesthetic can be influenced
simple details in costumes can tell us a lot even when it is something simple

coulson_iron-manIron Man 2008
Agent Coulson’s first appearance. Role is to be annoying government bureaucrat. Dressed as middle management dweeb. BUT His shirt has stripes, and no one else’s does.
cuffs are over his hands–too big, like a kid wearing dad’s
smaller at the shoulders and bigger at waist
Good suit makes you look good.
Following corporate dress code but doesn’t care.
He’s forgettable.

The Avengers 2012
Agent Coulson gray suit again, fits better, cuffs don’t cover his hands, showing off his stupid man watch
more expensive tie
plain blue Oxford
Dodgey Cabana suit

Agents of SHIELD 2013
crisp white shirt, fancy car, gorgeous look

Costume Science
in every film
usually a major costume in the film
Like Amadala’s costume in Star Wars. Purpose to look amazing.
Oscar nominations are almost all historical, sf, or fantasy.
Oscar: “Best Actor goes to the most acting.”
Costumes are the “most costume design.”

Bourne Identity had a costume designer, but no one discusses.

The Duchess
best way to get costume is to design for her outfits
6 Oscars to her costume designer
special feature “12,000 buttons by hand”
very realistic and detailed
but doesn’t tell you anything about the character

Downtown Abbey looks fantastic, but it doesn’t help understand the narrative.

Other examples:
LotR–armor making “lost fingertips by making armor”

BBC Rose Doctor WhoRose in Doctor Who “most normal clothes”
tee shirt with overalls

Reasons for why we dress:
body type
what you are interested in–if hate fashion, don’t dress up and try to blend in

If watching tv or movie with normal outfit, a reason.

Bella Swan has to look like most banal person imaginable so everyone can relate.
Gray hoody.

Supernatural season 1 (2005)
two brothers Sam and Dean, road trip hunting monsters
jeans, trainers, leather jacket and blue jean jacket
practical shoes, practical jackets, jeans, Sam plaid shirts
Have to replace their clothes often.
cheap and easy for costuming

Originally the show was marketed to males.
Really manly. Tough, rough, ready to go, not caring about fashion.

Supernatural season 9 (2013)
still wearing the same style clothes–not exactly, but off the rack, jeans

Comparison that plays to a similar audience and brothers and look normal.

Teen Wolf imageTeen Wolf
Very different.
black sleeveless tee (tank top)
leather or high school jacket
V-neck tees

costume designing reinforces gender roles
classic franchises have real history of real misogyny
Star Trek, Star Wars, super hero
can’t critique because we love Princess Leia and the ST uniforms.

Uhura (1960s and reboot)
1960s: minidress, long sleeves (designed by gay man to make her look fabulous, very sexy)–also more normal for time
reboot: focused group, shorter arms

New one doesn’t have arms.
Practical concern in world building.
Women don’t have a place to put their military rank. So captain has to be a man.

ST Reboot written by men, produced by men, costume design by man

negative effect because as soon as you see a minidress and bikini you probably respect her less.

MARVEL'S THE AVENGERSScarlet Johanssen’s Black Widow in The Avengers
majority of mainstream reviews — “smoldering in her cat woman character”
Not realistic. Not dominatrix outfit.
In the movie she’s wearing useful work. Female version of Captain America’s outfit.
So we perceive the character differently because of other costumes the character has been in.

Fifth Element
looks incredible
costumes aren’t much about reality
costumes show flamboyant and lots of money
real reason costumes look like this, is costume guy was a fashion designer and so he went as far as he could–amazing, but not related to the world

costumes in Alien… you don’t think about the costumes
Everyone here are space truckers. Large portion at start, no dialogue. Visuals are all we have.
One size fits all. Working class uniform.
White trainers and white EMT pants.
Sigourney Weaver’s character: POV character. Blue jumper. Or blue shirt and blue pants.
Lambert, cowboy boots, vest with patches
Bret, looks like crap, covered in dirt, wearing a white shirt, Hawaiian shirt, totally scruffy
Captain, neat, white shirt, white EMT pants, white trainers
boiler room guy: gray tee-shirt, white EMT pants, belt of fabric, white trainers

space suits: look about to die in here, grunt job, not fancy

love the gray suits in this film
Best gray suit film of all time.
Ocean’s Eleven heist movie. Same costume designer for this one and that one.

each of characters are wearing a uniform–suits
each has a particular style
Hob is central character and dresses like a boring dad. American Everyman.

Hailey murphy’s character, perfect suit, double breasted suit–usually worn by older men so he’s cosplaying as his father, white line pocket hankie, gray

Mal is Cobb’s wife
only time we see her is all perception
Always looks like a vamp.
dresses in dark purples and blacks
malevolent presence

Saito–Japanese character, wears the underneath part of kimono under jacket

Yusuf- Kurdish shirt, relaxed, hanging around, works in drug cartel
all browns and beiges

Arthur and Eames
only talk for like 5 minutes
left and right brain imagery
Arthur, organizer, really neat, kind of vain–person with most fashion sense
–In dreams, he still wears these shoes. John Vaggis shoes.
Eames is opposite. Really distinctive style. British ex-pat. High waisted trousers. Colored shirts. complimentary color scheme as beige and green and brown

terrible dialogue, asks questions for men to answer
normally she’s casual, not bothered by looking fancy, low heeled shoes and pants, blue shirt, red casual jacket
in dreams, the suit doesn’t work very well. Her sleeves are too long. Seams are wrong. She’s uncomfortable in suit.

Matrix–switch clothing. They are putting their characters on as costumes. Idealized.
In the matrix more based on filmmaker’s interest. Every single person who has joined has mild interest in BDSM.
Neo’s coat was made from shitty fabric.
They had no $$ for costume budget.

Question: Increasing trend in historical fantasy in tight trousers. Every single male in Davinci’s Demon. Villain is the only one dressed in Renaissance outfit.
Not new development. People wanted to make films where people look hot for no reason.
Visual cue to tell us it’s a fun show.
Three Musketeers explains how they are for fun, not a serious adaptation.

Characters in tv shows where building up a convincing wardrobe.
Revenge–US weekly show. Nolan Ross, Steve Jobs’ character, amazing wardrobe of very showy outfits. When you see flashbacks, he’s wearing a black hoodie. Once he got rich, he just apes them. Has everything in striped pastels.

Lots of shows where women’s costumes are important. Glee. The Goodwife.
Tv usually has more fashion because it’s a marketing tool.

The Hunger Games?
Costume design. First not good for costume design. Second film better.

Books evil are obsessed with fashion. Capital. Outlandish. In the first film, you don’t see that individual obsession with fashion. Second one they did.

Books did a lot more. Body modification, too.

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