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Posts Tagged ‘The Tempest’

Say what you will about the cinematic quality of Julie Taymor’s 2010 adaption of The Tempest, but it’s clear that the costumes created for the film were absolutely fantastic. Designed by the acclaimed Hollywood costumer Sandy Powell (Shakespeare in Love, The Aviator and The Young Victoria) the look can be best described as Elizabethan Punk.

Taymor’s script called for a cape for Prospera (Helen Mirren) that would resemble shards of glass and light. Powell tried creating this effect with fiber optic and glass, but that turned out to be a bit impractical. So she settled on 3,000 pieces of vacuum-formed plastic, painted and sewn together.

“Poor Helen had to stand there with her arms up while she was yelling into the storm.”

The end result was a cape so heavy that it would take two people to lift it. To make it look like the cape flapping in the wind, crew members had to pull strings attached to it. But the end result is absolutely gorgeous – like pieces of polished lava or feathers of a monstrous bird.

The costume palette is dominated by dark, metallic hues; there’s plenty of zippers, studs and leather.

Allons-y, Alonso!

In an interview, Powell said that the budget was so small and resources so limited that when King Alonso (David Strathairn) walked into their workshop and asked if he could help, he was put to work sewing hundreds of metal studs onto his own costume.

Zippers were not just a really cool modern touch, but also a great way to save money. A real Elizabethan costume would have been embroidered with gold thread and lavish decorations.  Zippers were a cheap way to add some shine to the dark costumes.

Sebastian’s (Alan Cumming) Elizabethan collar was made by folding silver-metal zippers to create an accordion pleat. The use of zippers if quite ingenious. From far off those lines on Cumming’s doublet look like metallic embroidery, but up close you can see that they’re all zippers.

So many zippers!

Prince Ferdinand with his boy-band good looks, zipper jacket and biker boots looks more like a rock star than a young nobleman from an Elizabethan court.

A romantic hero must always be brooding

The feeling that he’s a modern heartthrob only increases when he strips down to that black tank top.

These two look like a Levi’s commercial

Miranda (Felicity Jones) looks pure and airy in all her costumes. The fabric is almost sheer, but at the same time well-worn as if the clothes have been in use for many years. The only person who looks less constrained by his costume is Ariel and that’s only because he’s naked throughout the movie.

But the corseted dress with handpainted face is my absolute favorite. Powell said that she had borrowed it from a designer friend and to her it looked like it was made from a painting that got washed up on the shore. It reminds me very much of Vivienne Westwood’s  ‘Boucher’ corset.

Speaking of inspiration, the zipper obsession was in full swing around that time. Balmain had a serious zippers fixation in the fall of 2008. 

The Tempest (2010) Zipper Fix

This film was not as well-received as it could have been. It’s hard to say why, but I think I will talk about my own impressions in another post.

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