Pret-a-Reporter

Oscars: How 'Rogue One' Costume Designers Created the Storm and Death Troopers' Full-Body Armor

7:30 AM 1/9/2017

by Anna Lisa Raya

That's just one of the secrets revealed as six wardrobe wizards who worked on the 'Star Wars' spinoff,' 'La La Land' and more turned around complete looks from scratch.

Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm
  • Colleen Atwood

    Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Warner Bros.)

    Warren Holder/Warner Bros; Jaap Buitendijk/Warner Bros

    In doing research for this film set in J.K. Rowling's wizarding world of Harry Potter, circa the 1920s, Atwood explored "all the different immigrants coming into New York City in 1924," she says. Atwood created 90 principal costumes and an additional 1,000 for supporting characters. Star Eddie Redmayne's Newt costume proved to be the most challenging to get right. "It had to fit in the real world, yet have a bit of magic to it," Atwood says. "I ended up with a petrol color that fit in on the street but also felt right with his [character's] 'beasts.' It also had to meet movement requirements. When I first met Eddie, it was at a dance studio where he was rehearsing. I brought him a couple of things to work with, including the coat, because I knew he was going to wear it most of the time."

  • Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh

    Love & Friendship (Roadside/Amazon)

    Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh insisted on Georgian-era costumes for the Austen adaptation. Left: Her sketch for a dress worn by Beckinsale’s character.
    Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh insisted on Georgian-era costumes for the Austen adaptation. Left: Her sketch for a dress worn by Beckinsale’s character.
    Courtesy of Ginsberg Libby; Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

    Most Jane Austen adaptations are set in the Regency period, but Irish-born Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh fought to have the costumes in Love & Friendship be from the end of the Georgian period. "I think this brings a naughtiness and a freshness to the visual of the film," she says. "It is unexpected. The dresses are voluminous and the silhouettes corseted and sexy." In addition to the challenge of making 20 full costumes from scratch — and starting before ever seeing or meeting the cast due to the relatively short 10-week production — Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh also designed, in close consultation with chief hair designer Eileen Buggy, the large hats worn by Kate Beckinsale and Chloe Sevigny. "My milliner, Carol Smith, created some of the hats in a number of days," she says. "Seeing her arrive with her striped hat boxes was like being a child again on Christmas morning."

  • Mary Zophres

    La La Land (Lionsgate)

    Zophres found the fabric for Stone's yellow dress at Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft.
    Zophres found the fabric for Stone's yellow dress at Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft.
    Courtesy of Lionsgate; Dale Robinette/Lionsgate

    When sourcing materials, Zophres scored several vintage pieces for Ryan Gosling's character, including a tan sport coat crafted from "the last piece of a lovely wool from B. Black and Sons — I yelped out loud when I found that piece," she says. But some of the garments didn't stretch enough for the dancing Gosling does in the film, so Zophres turned to Garo Ashikian, a costume designer on Dancing With the Stars, for tailoring secrets that allowed for more movement. "For Emma [Stone], I used fabrics with a lot of fluidity," Zophres says. The yellow dress in a key scene "was a happy accident. We made a sample out of a yellow polyester jersey we found at Jo-Ann's [fabrics]. We loved the movement and casual quality it gave the dress, so we decided to go with that fabric."

  • Dave Crossman and Glyn Dillon

    Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Disney)

    Left: Dillon says Krennic’s costume “was about convincing Gareth that the simplicity of the white tunic and cape was enough.” Right: A Death Trooper.
    Left: Dillon says Krennic’s costume “was about convincing Gareth that the simplicity of the white tunic and cape was enough.” Right: A Death Trooper.
    Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm

    The pair spent more than six months making approximately 700 costumes for this spinoff. "Just as much work went into our background characters as the primary ones," says Dillon. "With Star Wars films, a background character has just as much chance of achieving some kind of immortality by becoming a toy or trading card or having an entire comic book devoted to them, so every costume has to cut the mustard." No detail was spared, from what the rebels wore — "we wanted them to feel like real soldiers, in real flak jackets and flight suits," adds Dillon — to the dozens of Storm and Death Troopers they created, first by modeling on a computer then building as full-body armor. Crossman says the cast was game throughout: "Ben [Mendelsohn] brought Krennic to life, Forrest [Whitaker] wore his Saw costume with great patience, and Diego [Luna] did the parka proud."

  • Jacqueline West

    Live by Night (Warner Bros.)

    Left: Silent star Louise Brooks was a major reference point. Right: Saldana's striped cabaret dress was inspired by one the late Australian costume designer Orry-Kelly made for a gangster film.
    Left: Silent star Louise Brooks was a major reference point. Right: Saldana's striped cabaret dress was inspired by one the late Australian costume designer Orry-Kelly made for a gangster film.
    Getty Images; Claire Folger/Warner Bros

    Instead of using traditional sketches for her costumes for Live by Night, West worked from photographs from the 1920s period that is the setting for the film. From these references, she and her team created more than 400 costumes during a 10-week prep time, though West admits she'd been working with director-star Ben Affleck on visuals and character notes for well over a year. "He appreciates the research and re-creating the past accurately," she says. Her favorite discoveries were pictures of notorious bank robber and outlaw John Paul Chase, who formed the basis for Affleck's character. "He looked like Ben. He was tall with handsome Irish good looks."

    West sourced vintage fabrics, buttons and notions from all over the U.S. and Europe, even finding sequins for a flapper dress worn by Sienna Miller that she then had made by "one of the last true beaders." West's biggest challenge: a cabaret dress she made for Zoe Saldana's character. "The dress had to dance with her and then be in a love scene. The sleeves had to come off with a quick rip and then be put back on for take two."

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