SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE
Costume And Make Up
The Elizabethan era was also highly fashion conscious age, a time when sumptuous fabrics, new dyes and exuberant dress prevailed
The Elizabethan era was also highly fashion conscious age, a time
when sumptuous fabrics, new dyes and exuberant dress prevailed.
Clothing was a primary indicator of wealth in those days so the
more dramatic and opulent the costume, the better. Shakespeare
himself was no stranger to fashion, using costume to greater effect
than any dramatist before him.
The fashions of the day emphasized gallantry and beauty. For women,
the hourglass shape was key. Wide shoulders at the bodice whittled
down to a narrow cinched waist, then opened up to a belied skirt;
the bosom was tightly lifted at the plunging neckline. For men,
the silhouette was square, bolstered by an abundance of padding.
Vents and slashes - attractive due to their relationship with
sword battle - were common. Boots, breeches, a jerkin vest, a
doublet and an adorned hat made for a dashing outfit.
Director John Madden knew that to really bring the Renaissance
spirit of Shakespeare's times to life, the costumes and makeup
would be vital. Thus, he chose two Academy Award nominees to take
on the enormous task: costume designer Sandy Powell and hair and
make-up designer Lisa Westcott.
Powell, who had designed in this period for Sally Potter's "Orlando"
was thrilled to return to one of her favorite eras. "I was
longing to throw myself into this time again," she admits.
"It is really such a juicy period with these huge and rather
crazy sculptural costumes." Like Martin Childs, she immersed
herself in research, but enjoyed the freedom afforded by the lack
of information. "My aim was not to create absolutely historically
accurate costumes, but to use a bit of artistic license and as
the script is so fresh and light I felt there was room for the
imagination, whilst always keeping it convincing," she states.
Perhaps the most extraordinary costumes Powell was to create were
for Queen Elizabeth, played with an intense presence that actually
outdoes even her fashions by Judi Dench. Though her dresses and
headwear appear almost surreally ostentatious - plumed with such
finery as peacock feathers - Powell explains that this is one
of those situations where fact is stranger than fantasy. "Queen
Elizabeth apparently had over a thousand dresses - all hugely
flamboyant and over-the-top - she basically carried all her wealth
on her frocks, so they were literally piled high with jewels."
she says. "She is also over 60 in this film, so I'm just
presuming she has gone a little bit nuts. She was such an outrageous
historical figure, we allowed ourselves to go completely mad."
The Queen's makeup is similarly extraordinary. Lisa Westcott explains
that as "the Queen is quite old in the film she would have
terrible skin - probably from mercury-poisoning - so it was covered
in make-up and her hair was undoubtedly falling out, so she always
wore a wig. Apparently she had over 80 wigs, all different colors
and her hair line would have receded from the front, giving her
that rather severe look." Lisa and her team spent 4 hours
daily with Judi Dench to prepare her makeup and finery. But the
work paid off - the first day Dench appeared on the stage, the
entire production went dead silent in a hush. She was awe-inspiring
- as Elizabeth is said to have always been in her time.
The Queen set the fashion of the time, so those around her in
court copied her style. "Whatever the Queen did," says
Lisa Westcott, "became de rigeur with the other ladies. Even
in her old age, she was a rea
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