Welcome to FrockTalk, the web’s only costume-based movie review site. The goal of Frocktalk is to shed light on the magnificent artistry of costume design in motion pictures. Reviews on this site are written by working costume designers in the entertainment industry – people who know, better than anyone, what it takes to make it all happen. The focus of FrockTalk is not to comment on the big flashy costume dramas, but to call attention to the seemingly ordinary costume design work in film that silently and persuasively moves the audience toward understanding the characters. Costume design for motion pictures is an art form that deserves more recognition than it usually gets. Fancy, pretty costumes do not always equal effective, appropriate costumes. The art of the costume is in letting the audience know who the character is, before the actor even has a chance to open his mouth. Read on, and enjoy. ** CAUTION: ALL REVIEWS CONTAIN SPOILERS! **

Tag Archive for 'color'

Reading Material!

color-theory

So, I’ve had my head deep in some books lately, in preparation for this TEDx speech I’m giving at the end of June.  It’s been very interesting to revisit the subject of costume design from an outside perspective.  In the talk, I’m trying to explain the concept of clothing as a visual language – one that we all speak, in various dialects.  A red dress to you may mean a very different kind of red dress to me.  So how do we talk about visual language with any real meaning?  Here’s where the following books come in handy.

Continue reading ‘Reading Material!’

The Great Gatsby

poster1

Hi everyone – I’ve just returned from a screening of The Great Gatsby, and wanted to briefly record my impressions here for you.  First of all, there are a TON of costumes. Like thousands and thousands of costumes, all very different from each other.  There are dance costumes and party costumes and poor people costumes and banker/Wall Street costumes and rich people costumes, etc., etc., etc., it’s exhausting! Bottom line: it’s beautiful.  But keep in mind, this is not a Merchant-Ivory movie; this is not the place to be looking for exacting period accuracy.  This is a Baz Luhrmann movie, and his specific vision is what comes to life here, courtesy of costumes and sets by designer Catherine Martin. Continue reading ‘The Great Gatsby’

Les Misérables

Review Date: 12-4-12

Release Date: 12-25-12 (USA)

Runtime: 157 minutes

Period: 1815 – 1832, France

Costume Designer: Paco Delgado

Most of us who work in the entertainment industry have seen at least one stage production of Les Misérables in our lives. To miss this musical theater opus would be like not seeing ET or Star Wars; it’s that big of a deal. Les Miz (as it is colloquially called) was first introduced to the stage in the form of a musical in the 1980s. It was a sensation. The music is haunting, the story is relatable, and it packs an emotional wallop. It is no surprise, then, that the current movie version of the musical does the same.

Continue reading ‘Les Misérables’

Color Me Beautiful

I was at a Fourth of July party yesterday, when a makeup writer friend of mine and I got into a conversation about the book Color Me Beautiful. Most of you Frocktalkers are probably too young to remember this phenomenon, but using this book, you could determine whether you were a “winter”, “spring”, “summer” or “autumn”, and choose flattering clothing and makeup colors accordingly. My friend was wondering if the premise still held up today, thirty-plus years after the book was first published. It got me thinking…

Continue reading ‘Color Me Beautiful’

Adventures in Costuming: Dyeing on Location!

Hello, everyone – hope you are having a beautiful Memorial Day weekend if you are in the US, and happy Monday to the rest of you! I wanted to show you a little bit about some of the challenges we face on location from time to time. Today’s vignette: Dyeing on location!

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Desert Flower

Release Date: 3-18-11 (USA); 9-24-2009 (Germany)

Runtime: 127 min.

Period: 1968 – 1997

Costume Designer: Gabriele Binder

I read Waris Dirie’s autobiographical book Desert Flower (the basis for this film) back in 1998 when it came out. I was captivated by her bravery and stunned by her life story: young girl from a nomadic tribe escapes arranged marriage in Somalia, comes to London, becomes a supermodel and a UN ambassador. But that’s just the surface.

Waris Dirie’s story is a reminder that there is more to all of us than our surface components – our wounds, our pain, our joy and our determination reside in a hidden place. What we decide to do about all of that surface/hidden stuff is our choice. Waris Dirie has gracefully overcome some seemingly insurmountable obstacles in her life, and her beauty is more than skin deep.

Continue reading ‘Desert Flower’

Costume Research: Tsarist Russia

Costume designers are re-creators of universes.  We can recreate the stone age, the renaissance, the crusades, the Roman empire, and even Genghis Khan and the Mongols.  In order to do this, however, we need research… loads and loads of research.  There are many types of research – primary (meaning photographs from the time period, and the actual antique garments themselves), and secondary (drawings, paintings, descriptions, stories, etc.).  It is a beautiful and inspiring thing to find a new resource for primary research.  I was introduced to one of those sources today – Russian photographer Sergey Mikhaylovich Prokudin-Gorsky.  One hundred years ago, Prokudin-Gorsky took COLOR photographs all over Russia.  That’s right:  COLOR photographs.  He used a system of color plate negatives to do it, and the results are amazing. I can’t think of another source from that time to shoot color photographs (other than color-tinted prints, which don’t really count, as they do not show true color).  These photographs are amazing; see for yourself~

Sergey Mikhaylovich Prokudin-Gorsky Photographs

And thanks to JD for sharing this with me!

** Update**  More links for Prokudin-Gorsky photos HERE, HERE and HERE!!  Amazing stuff!! Thanks, JD!

–KMB



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