List / BFFF

Costume Designers Recommend

Read time / 5 minutes

We've asked some of our favourite costume designers about the films that sticked with them costume wise, as we are sure they have this eye for detail that is way beyond a mere mortal's. Here are their top pics and a couple of words to go with them.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassius (2009)

Costume Designer Monique Prudhomme / Director Terry Gilliam

Terry Gilliams The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” is Monique Prudhommes shameless mix of every period and every ethnicity, and everything that she found that was interesting. So, for example, there are things from the Middle Ages, bits from the Renaissance, kimonos, Chinese pants, and Afghan dresses all tied together in a timeless dream.  Its one of the works on costumes and production designs that I can say I could have done, that I would have loved to do. All that is timeless, this deathless eclecticism is fantastic, fascinating, and enveloping. (Sonia Constantinescu, Retro Future, )

Bram Stocker's Dracula (1992)

Costume designer Eiko Ishioka / Director Francis Ford Coppola

When Francis Ford Coppola was told he wasn’t going to receive the budget he wanted for the 1992 film Bram Stoker’s Dracula, he infamously declared, “The costumes will be the set.”  Enter Eiko Ishioka, who would fulfill that vision and create the most memorable costumes ever made for these familiar characters. And this won him an Oscar. The  first costumes I ever saw of her while researching I immediately fell in love with,  I can easily recognize her signature ever since. Her theatrical force, her complexity of perceiving characters and turning them into unforgettable symbols, her perfection of skills, remind me why I do what I do. And also, her ability to merge eastern&western cultures that brings such rich layers to the characters. (Anca Miron, Retro Future,

The Favourite (2018)

Costume Designer Sandy Powell / Director Yorgos Lanthimos

A film I’ve recently watched that always surprises me is Yorgos Lanthimos’ „The Favourite” (2018). It has all the elements of a classic: a well-written screenplay, beautifully composed shots (reminiscent of Tim Walker’s photo shoots) and a courageous take on styling by costume designer Sandy Powell. The costumes that retain a specific XVIII century cut surprise through the use of modern details, materials and monochorme colours. (Miruna Bălașa, @mirunabalasa)

The Handmaiden (2016)

Costume Designer Sang-gyeong Jo / Director Chan-wook Park

“The Handmaiden” (2016, r. Park Chan-wook) is one of the few Asian films in which costumes are a means of theatrical expression to emphasise class differences. It is a very well documented film, that nails the details and the contrast between traditional Korean costumes and Western influences from the 1900s. (Miruna Bălașa, @mirunabalasa)

What a Way to Go! (1964)

Costume Designer Edith Head / Director J. Lee Thompson

This entire film is a visual feast and and the costumes are anything but ordinary. The character played by Shirley McLane, Louisa May Foster, constantly reinvents her wardrobe and changes her style every time she changes her husband. Pink fur, feathers, red latex, avant-garde outfits (that bring Schiaparelli to mind) and, last but not least, mourning clothes that are never conventional…. It has everything! Costumes created by Edith Head – mother of the classic Hollywood era and an all time favourite of mine. (Ioana Șomănescu, @ioanasourcherry)

In the Mood for Love (2000)

Costume Designer William Chang / Director Kar-Wai Wong

The film that has single-handedly managed to make me fall in love with the idea of Qipao (or Cheongsams) and want to make want to wear one although I had always found them to be terribly boring. You can imagine my satisfaction when I found an authentic silk one in an old secondhand shop a while back. (Ioana Șomănescu, @ioanasourcherry)

Cries and Whispers (1972)

Costume Designer Marik Vos-Lundh / Director Ingmar Bergman

Lace, pearls, tons of black & white on a perfectly red background. The costumes have this great austerity and confidence. For a period film, where it’s very easy to get lost in various details (the action takes place at the end of the 19th century), it manages to have this something that’s very coherent and well defined that stays with you for a long time. (Ioana Șomănescu, @ioanasourcherry)

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Costume Designer Milena Canonero / Director Stanley Kubrick

This is a masterpiece and I’ve always been fascinated by this film…and its costumes. Every time I watch it I discover new things and it is remarkable how all these fascinating film characters are build, characters that might as well be on a theater stage. (Alma Alexandra Ungureanu Stroe, @alexandra_alma)

The Tree of Life (2011)

Costume Designer Jacqueline West / Director Terrence Malick

I really like the language and chromatics of the costumes. Everything in this film is chosen to bring forth the beauty of the living and I think they managed to create costumes that fit this image perfectly, like you were looking at a painting, with everything in perfect harmony. (Alma Alexandra Ungureanu Stroe, @alexandra_alma)

Pusher (1996)

Costume Designer Loa Miller / Director Nicolas Winding Refn

I like that there is this contrast between the costumes and the characters’ way of being. The fact that they all have this bad boy look underlines the moments when they are seen in their full form and humanity, letting their feelings show. (Alexandra Alma Ungureanu Stroe, @alexandra_alma)