by Nathalie Atkinson.
Costume designer Paco Delgado first met Academy Award-winning director Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) in Spain, when they worked together on Hooper’s series of 17th century-set commercial shorts for Captain Morgan rum. The pair got along so well, Delgado recalled in an interview from his home in Madrid, that to his pleasant surprise nine months later he was invited to meet in London and discuss the director’s next project, Les Misérables. For Delgado, best known for memorable film collaborations with Spanish auteurs such as Pablo Berger and Pedro Alm-odovar, the preparation on a star-studded Hollywood film of this scale was as immense as it was intense.
Before shooting even began, Delgado spent five months preparing with research at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and in Paris at the Musee du Louvre, scouring flea markets in England, Spain and Italy for vintage fabric suppliers of dead-stock wool and antique linen, and assembling a costume team of more than 30 to work around the clock building costumes before and during production.
From the overall colour scheme and the historically accurate bicorn hats to the high-waisted button-front trousers and the revolutionary rosettes, nothing about the costumes in Les Misérables is by accident. The use of red, blue and white overall scheme came about during research. “We found the colours of the French flag, which were used in a lot of paintings. You have for example Delacroix’s Freedom Guiding the People for the barricade and you see people blocked in solid blue, with red and with white. That was a decision – Tom wanted to go that way, and use these three colours in a very patriotic way. But then with Marius and Cossette, it was more natural, a question of a romantic story going on.”
“When you start designing a movie, especially in a case like this one where you have so many characters, you have to have a sort of leitmotif running for character,” Delgado continued, before taking me through some of the costume process behind each major character.
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