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THE CONSPIRATOR

Dressing The Part
From gala celebrations at the Century Club to the claustrophobic jail cell and the hot, close courtroom, costume designer Louise Frogley knew immediately what she wanted to do in order to blend the costumes with the color palette. With just a few weeks of prep, "we weren't able to make costumes.” Costume supervisor Richard Schoen chimes in, "We couldn't shop for fabrics.” .

Due to time constraints the pair ended up fitting extras before some of the principal cast was set. "It was scary,” reports Frogley, "because we were trying to guess what might be good for them, even though they weren't cast yet.” Those who did wear period costumes had to be careful in them. "Some of them were more darning than dress,” laughs Frogley. "Every time Evan [Rachel Wood] sat down, the dress would fall apart a little more.” Still, she reports that the mix of created and found, new and old, with restoration and aged decoration worked: "a piece from here and a piece from there, put ‘em all together, trim them up and they really come out beautifully.” She even carried with her an antique button collection, ready to make any garment both special and authentic.

For the battle scenes as well as the victory celebration, courtroom and execution, the film received help from unexpected places. Schoen reports that about 50 Civil War re-enactors were happy to show up and offer their talents and services as extras. They came dressed and ready to work in authentic uniforms with their own props, such as weapons, canteens, even bedrolls. "They often have both uniforms -- and will play the Union soldier or the Confederate soldier,” he said, adding, "It was such a help to see them get out of their car in the morning already dressed and ready to work.”

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