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Dressing Persia
Costume Designer Penny Rose Cuts A Rug…Literally

A nondescript street in a Marrakesh neighborhood known as the Zone Industrielle has a building that could be a warehouse or factory. But in the months leading up to the filming of "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,” and during the duration of its Morocco shoot, this building was a dream factory, housing a small army of cutters, costumers, cobblers, seamstresses, milliners, dyers, armorers and artisans, all working under the supervision of costume designer Penny Rose.

"There's no one in her field like Penny,” says producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who enlisted her for the entire "Pirates of the Caribbean” trilogy. "Her attention to detail almost defies description, and her ability to find the exact right costumes to define characters is fantastic. Penny can organize anything, anywhere in the world. She's a tough taskmaster, but we love her artistry.”

"Orientalist paintings were part of the influence,” says Rose. "Most of those images were painted in Victorian times, so they're 19thcentury impressions of scenes from hundreds of years previous to that. The scale of the Orientalist pictures was the most significant thing to us: the shapes of the garments, the flowing cloaks, the amount of people crushed into small spaces.”

For "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,” Rose had to create no fewer than 7,000 costumes, nearly all of them built from scratch. Assisting Rose were assistant costume designers Timothy John Norster, Margie Fortune and Maria Tortu, as well as costume supervisor Ken Crouch, costume designer assistant Lucy Bowring and wardrobe master Mark Holmes. Rose also relied on a veritable army of wardrobe masters, on-set costumers, workshop supervisors, dyers, metalworkers, shoemakers and artisans from all over the world.

Another trick of Rose's trade, unimaginable to those outside the craft, is the breakdown department. "Very few people on the films I do go to set in a new costume,” explains Rose. "We always have to break it down first. I want costumes to look real, even in a fantasy film like this. Our breakdown department employed tools like a cement mixer. Once the leather goods are newly made, we put them in the cement mixer for a couple of hours with a few stones, and they come out looking well used. They also use cheese graters to distress costumes, believe it or not.”

To obtain the materials for so many thousands of costumes, Rose scoured the four corners of the globe, discovering fabrics from as far away as Turkey, Thailand, Afghanistan, China, Malaysia, Great Britain, Paris, Rome and, of course, Morocco. These materials were then utilized in surprising ways. For example, to create Sheikh Amar's shabby but colorful coat, Rose fabricated it from three Indian bedspreads sewn together. "Then we took a cheese grater to it until we got this fantastic ragged look, revealing layers of different fabrics, colors, and designs,” says Rose. "The sheikh also has a headdress, and his boots are made from an old carpet.”

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