Yesterday marked the release of some of Prada’s sketches for costumes for The Great Gatsby (2013). Today has led to two more reports of fashion designers taking a collaborative role in costume design.
The first “rumour” at this stage that I heard about involved Iris van Herpen designing A dress for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013). This was originally reported by The Hollywood Reporter. The article reports that an insider on the film referred to Herpen designing one of Katniss’s costumes but not specifying which one. Common thought has *SPOILER* Katniss’s (Jennifer Lawrence) wedding dress that transforms into a Mockingjay – the stand-out dress described in the book as the “fire” dress was in ‘The Hunger Games’. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never heard of Herpen (Lady Gaga is a fan apparently) but her dresses are eye-catching and unusual. They could definitely fit in with the aesthetic in the Capitol initially created by Judianna Makovsky for The Hunger Games (2012), but taken over by Trish Summerville for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Was this decision made to assist in the design of a possibly difficultly constructed dress? Or to up the profile of a, lets face it, very high-profile film? The second question is more cynical but when you see the controversy surrounding Black Swan with seven costumes designed by Rodarte – but fitting with costume designer Amy Westcott and director Darren Aronofsky’s vision – you hope that this will not arise over this one costume.
The next story came from Vogue. Raf Simons, the current creative director of Christian Dior, will be designing the costumes for Sigourney Weaver and Isabelle Huppert in their upcoming film Body Art. In a way, this is similar to The Great Gatsby. Possibly. The current story is that Prada has created over 40 looks for Daisy (Carey Mulligan) in the film – it hasn’t been confirmed whether these are all of her costumes. If so, then this would be another example of a fashion designer creating one character’s costumes with a costume designer creating the other characters’. In theory, if the working relationship is healthy, the costume designer is in control of the clothing look of the entire film. It is their responsibility. Having a different designer take on one character shouldn’t make the character stand out from the world created – unless that is the specific intention.
I remember a talk given by costume designer Frances Tempest at my university where she cited Batman (1989) as an example of one character’s costumes (Kim Basinger as Vicki Vale) designed by a different costume designer (Linda Henrickson) to the rest of the film (Bob Ringwood). This wasn’t Tempest being overly critical, she was told this opinion by Ringwood himself. Basinger had insisted on having her own designer. As I said earlier, if the relationship works then that can be fine. If there are miscommunications or an unwillingness to compromise or merely work together for the benefit of the overall design of the film then the collaboration can be a huge disaster. Simons designing for two characters in a film implies much more involvement with the costume designer and the director and hopefully will evolve into a great collaboration. But only time will tell.