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Fantastic Beasts costume design is a Paris fashion delight

It’s here! The latest instalment in the Wizarding World universe. Fantastic Beasts – The Crimes of Grindelwald is in our cinemas and fans of all things wizard are loving the newest movie.

Not only is the film a hit with fans, but the costume design on Fantastic Beasts is certainly catching our beady eye.

The Crimes of Grindelwald is set in Paris and with that comes a firm nod to Paris’ position as the centre of style.

In an Interview with GQ magazine, Colleen Atwood, decorated costume designer of the Fantastic Beasts films, talks about her inspiration when designing, and about some of her favourite pieces.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Paris as inspiration

When speaking to GQ Colleen revealed that this time around the film’s setting in Paris was a major influence on her designs, particularly as this instalment is much more dramatic.

She said:

“It’s darker and it’s slightly more dramatic. Because the movie was set in Paris I wanted to give it a little more mystery, a little more of a fashionable moment, because of the Parisian background.”

Being set in late 20’s early 30’s period, Colleen wanted to create a sense of mystery to match the tone of the city at the time. She had her eye firmly fixed on the fashion scene during the period, designing the costumes to reflect the Parisian style.

“The colours of Paris, the deeper tones and colours of the buildings are reflected in the clothing, which in turn reflects the mood that is prevailing in the film.”

Her biggest design influence came from the French fashion designer Madeleine Vionnet. The Parisian fashion icon who trained in London before returning to Paris to set up her first fashion house in 1912.

Talking about Madeleine Vionnet, Colleen had this to say about her style:

“She invented the bias cut, which for the Twenties was a very straight cut, but towards the end of the Twenties the cutters started to cut clothes against the straight grain of the fabric and it gave you that draping that bias has. It’s a great combo with a straight-cut piece of fabric.”

In the interview Colleen goes on to talk about how Madeleine’s ‘cuts’ were used within the film in a slightly unorthodox way:

“I even used that (cut) on the back of the men’s coats as opposed to just a straight-cut piece of fabric, which would be more traditional.” 

As GQ is squarely focused on gents fashion and lifestyle, it’s fitting that they asked Colleen what her favourite male costume was.

She Said:

“I love Jude’s corduroy coat – it felt real to me and I like the comforting vibe of it. I also love the leather coats I designed for the film, for Catharine and for the Aurors. I just love those kind of pre-war huge leather coats. They are just so beautiful to me, even though they weigh 500 pounds.” 

Telling the Story

As we know, costume is as much a part of the storytelling as the script or set. A character’s choice of dress tells us much about their identity and development within the life of a film. As Fantastic Beasts is a series, some of the design choices have to be continuous, or at least ‘nod’ tpreviousse designs. Colleen mentions this when talking to GQ for theinterview:

“Eddie’s is so similar to the original silhouette. It was less new to me because I wanted to keep the same silhouette from the first film.”

However, a new film a series is a perfect opportunity to strengthen the storytelling and develop characters further, this is no different in the costume design as Colleen makes clear when discussing the new uniform ‘look’ of the Aurors:

“I thought it was previously confusing. In the sense of the story-telling I thought it was better, because I had to design costumes for international Aurors: American Aurors, English aurors, French Aurors.”

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

A Change of Plan

She goes on to talk about how some of the designs for the Aurors seen in the film changed from the original plans:

“The costumes I originally designed were a little more separate than they ended up being in the movies. I did these great kinds of resistance jackets for the French aurors, which you hardly end up seeing in the film, coupled with a sweater from a company in England called the Guernsey Sweater Makers, who knitted them for me. Then for the British aurors, they all wear very similar looks – typical English tweed fabrics for their coats. The American aurors had leather grey coats that carried over from the previous film, but in the second movie you only really see the tweed one.”

The interview is a great insight into the mind of one of the industries best loved designers. There is even some sneaky talk about the third film. Take a look at the original interview in GQ magazine here: Meet the mastermind behind those epic Fantastic Beasts costumes.

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