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The Look of 1869: Designing the Costumes
For British costume designer Penny Rose, the devil is in the details, and no detail is too small to escape her discerning, uncompromising eye. Rose may have helped create the distinctive threadbare threads of Captain Jack Sparrow in all four "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies, the glamorous costumes of the Argentinean dictator in "Evita," and the battle gear of the Roman and Near Eastern warriors in Jerry Bruckheimer's "King Arthur" and "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time," but she has never before tackled a Western. "It was quite a challenge," says Rose, "as I always do the costumes as authentically as possible and then give them a bit of fun."

Rose was well aware of the iconic Lone Ranger and Tonto costumes from the classic television show, but neither she nor Bruckheimer nor Verbinski had any inclination to revive the campy ensemble Clayton Moore wore. "One of the things I observed watching Westerns from the 1950s and '60s was that they were quite often indicative of the time in which they were made," observes Rose, "whereas we decided that we were definitely going to make this as authentic to 1869 as possible." Rose's gigantic wardrobe department operation would include upwards of 1500 costumes, and hundreds of hats, shoes, and other accessories, either created especially for the film or rented and altered according to need. Ensconced in a gigantic warehouse at Albuquerque Studios, Rose worked alongside small armies of costumers, cutter/fitters, seamstresses, stitchers, and agers/dyers, creating and assembling the costumes for "The Lone Ranger."

Joining Rose were numerous longtime collaborators, including assistant costume designer Charlotte Finlay, associate costume designer John Norster and costume supervisor Stacy Horn, all attuned to the designer's whirlwind style of working. "I like to call her Hurricane Penny," says Jerry Bruckheimer, who utilized the formidable designer on six previous films. "There's really no one like Penny in her field; she's incredibly creative and has a supernatural energy level." Rose would need that energy level for "The Lone Ranger," as at one point she and her crew needed to do an astonishing 700 fittings in one day for a scene with a large number of background players.

The designer, as much as possible, tries to use fabrics authentic to the time and place. "I don't like anything man- made," she confesses, "so everything is wool, cotton, and silk. I might cheat a little and use a fabric that looks like wool but would be more comfortable for the actors in the kind of extreme heat we've been filming in, but I never use anything fake. There are no zippers, the buttons have only two holes per that period, and every single female background player is wearing a corset."

There are basically two costumes for the Lone Ranger, one early in the film when he's introduced as young law school graduate John Reid, the second when he's made a Texas Ranger by his brother, Dan, and joins the posse in search of Butch Cavendish. "John Reid is a lawyer coming from a big city in the East in a three-piece suit, very proper, so when he morphs into the Lone Ranger, we decided that he shouldn't just become an instant cowboy," says Rose. "There should be a kind of transition between the two. Also, when you are given an actor who is 6 feet 5 inches tall, as Armie is, it kind of changes things. He couldn't wear chaps, or a duster coat; he had to have an iconic look of his own. That's why we've gone for a really quite smart, tailored look, although throughout the film it becomes more and more distressed.

"He's a kind of a 'GQ' Lone Ranger," continues Rose. "This guy's naturally got style." Rose designed period-correct pants, a linen vest, a jacket of English wool, a white linen shirt, and, in a subtle nod to Clayton Moore's costume, a neckerchief and white hat, which was custom-made by Stetson and authentic right down to the period label inside the brim. "They very kindly gave us more than 30 hats," notes Rose, "which is a good thing because of all the wear and tear in the action scenes."

Penny Rose's long association with Johnny Depp meant that another exciting collaboration was at hand for his Tonto costume. "We have quite a good shorthand at this point, and Johnny is really good about costume," she says. "He knows immediately what works and what doesn't, so there aren't long-winded sessions. I offer him up a selection of things, and the decision-making goes quite quickly.

"The story indicates that Tonto is a sort of rogue member of the Comanche tribe," she explains, "wandering around by himself for years. Joel Harlow, the key makeup designer, developed the crow on Tonto's head and Johnny's wonderful body makeup, so my work has really been from the waist down, except for the native breast piece I've given him. The concept is that Tonto has picked up different pieces on his journey, bits and bobs of his own personal history."

Butch Cavendish, as played by William Fichtner, is "a bit of a dandy," according to Rose, although a particularly terrifying one. "William is just spectacular because he's such a wonderful actor. Once Joel had designed Bill's facial makeup, we just immediately got the essence of the man. We put silver epaulets on his shirts, because it says something about how Cavendish sees himself."

For Rebecca Reid, the frontierswoman played by Ruth Wilson, Rose notes that "I designed her authentically as a frontier wife, which rather has a 'Grapes of Wrath' flavor, but luckily, later on in the story she's given a gown that is a beautiful purple silk taffeta; so for a good portion of the film Ruth is looking really glorious."

Rose describes the deliciously extravagant Red Harrington as "obviously, the most fun. Nothing can be too over-the-top when you're designing for Helena Bonham Carter! There is not enough ribbon and beading and embroidery or anything else for Helena. I decided that she should be dressed in red, and Helena was happy about that."

To accommodate Red's ivory leg, Rose and her team "made a rather amusing pair of bloomers that is sort of high-thigh- length on one side, and knee-length on the other." Red's girls, Rose notes, "are rather glamorous in that period and had to look welcoming to the gentlemen of the railway, so I did them all slightly tongue-in-cheek. A few of them have wonderful sort of dressing gown peignoirs on, with lots of feather and lace. And others are in once-glorious evening gowns that had sort of lost their glamour and were rather faded and slightly shredded. With the wonderful makeup from Joel Harlow's department, and fabulous wigs from Gloria Pasqua Casny's hair department, it was a good collaborative moment between the three teams."

Finally, Penny Rose says that the Hell on Wheels sequence "was almost like the film's gift to the creative team, because we could just really let go, and we did! I did Hell on Wheels almost exclusively with fabrics, which was very challenging because there were acrobats, contortionists and little people, but it was all great fun. I know that it was a bit cheeky for a Brit to do a Western, because it's not my culture, but it was exhilarating to try something new."

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