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Costumes Reflect the Theme of the Fantastic
Echoing the mood Singer established for the overall look and feel of the film, costume designer Joanna Johnston took similar creative license with the wardrobe. "Playing on a contemporary slant, I found items that mirrored 12th-century clothing -- hoods and cloaks, for example -- so I put Nick into a hoodie and a leather jacket with a kind of tee-shirt underneath. It had to look great but not overly sharp or designed, considering Jack's humble circumstances. A pair of slouchy pants and work boots and he appears entirely period and yet somehow not unlike how kids look today," she says.

Eleanor Tomlinson's wardrobe reflects her duality as both an elegant princess and incognito adventurer. The gowns needed only to be gorgeous, but for what Johnston calls "her attempt to dress like a boy, we kept her looking fabulous with something that would be Isabelle's flamboyant take on how a boy might dress, with a cape and a big-brimmed hat she could hide under when she wanted to, but that does little to obscure her beauty."

Ewan McGregor's Elmont cuts a dashing figure in asymmetrically edgy black leather armor, all lines and angles. "The best part of it is a beautiful shoulder fin that looks especially sharp in 3D," says Johnston. At the other end of the spectrum, poor Stanley Tucci's detestable Roderick must not only endure stringy hair, a doublet embellished with black beetles and a cape resembling a crocodile tail from the back, but a set of horsey teeth that were, in fact, the actor's own inspiration.

Says Tucci, "I was playing around and said I'd like to have some fake teeth made. Never spoke to Bryan about it beforehand, just sort of flashed them in my makeup test, and he liked it."

In conjunction with the digital artists tasked with bringing the giants to life, Johnston also created clothing for General Fallon and his enormous comrades. This being her third time working with CGI, she was well aware of issues like texture and range of motion.

"First we created their body types and facial physiognomy, basically just naked torsos, and then she started to illustrate concepts for those figures," McCormick outlines.

Diving into it with feeling, Johnston says, "I wanted something organic that looked like layer upon layer of ancient, filthy, festering cloth; not so much clothing, as just matter. The 3D really brings out those layers and the revolting textures, as well as their ancient armor, which is rotting and cracking from age."

Altogether she and her team produced approximately 2,000 costumes. Many were fashioned by hand with fabric made-to-order, from her own designs, which translated into an inordinate amount of dyeing, printing and embroidery -- a process that, for all its work, she found liberating. Having previously worked with Bryan Singer on "Valkyrie," she says, "Bryan is very responsive to items that are unique," she says. "I found myself pulling in influences from art and fashion, from Pieter Bruegel from the 1500s and William Waterhouse from the 19th century, to Alexander McQueen, to guys in the streets today, and combining that with traditional medieval shapes, but in different fabrics and palettes."

"I wanted Cloister to have a fairytale quality, yet not in the classic sense; it had to be reality-based, so colors were important and that's something we could play with in the overall design, the architecture and the clothing," says Singer. "We were very conscious of the way everything looked. The story takes place approximately 700 years ago, roughly the 12th or 13th century, but certainly in a place more ornate and colorful and glamorous than that would have been."

"The movie is an escape," says Hoult. "It's something for families to enjoy, where they can have some laughs and watch spectacular things unfold with all this fantasy and romance and fun."

Moreover, Singer reflects, "It isn't just a big adventure about Jack's journey. I wanted to pay homage not just to this story that many of us know so well, but to the concept of storytelling and mythology itself, and how these kinds of tales evolve as they're passed on... how they change and grow to remain vivid for each successive generation."


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