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April 21 2014

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The Swan Wore Black

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At most big-ticket movie premieres, what the stars wear on the red carpet is the main attraction. In the case of Black Swan, the roll-call outfits at the New York premiere this week were no slouch—Dior, Elie Saab, Givenchy, and Naeem Khan among them—but the most excitement may have been caused by the frocks on screen. That’s what you get when you hire Rodarte’s Kate and Laura Mulleavy to design a working wardrobe for your ballet fantasia-cum-horror epic. Here, the sisters share two of their sketches for the film’s costumes—the main characters of Odette as the maiden and of Odile as the demonic Black Swan—exclusively with Style.com.

“If I had imagined a dream film, this is definitely the one to sign us up for,” Laura said. “The big question was, how can you create a whole Swan Lake ballet to coincide with the modern set of this film?” But that wasn’t the only big question—the other was one few designers encounter: How can you make clothes that are ballet-friendly? “It was very technical, because everyone had to be able to dance,” Kate added. “For example, the crown—the demon Rothbart has a metal crown that’s made with horns, and the Black Swan has a metal crown in chrome. That was a big debate, whether they could wear them as dancers.”

But necessity was the mother of invention. The crowns made it into the film, where they’re chillingly dramatic in its final scenes—but chrome they’re not. The Mulleavys ended up making the Black Swan crown out of lightweight copper, which they then burned to achieve their desired effect. “The crown is so coveted because it is symbolic of getting the role of the Swan Queen in Swan Lake—it’s part of this whole thing of getting the role. When it was time to do the Black Swan, that more intensely had to be linked to this demonic, menacing idea, [so] using metal became more important,” said Laura (on set with Portman, below). “Technically it was almost impossible, but we made it work.”


Plus, keep reading to see a few exclusive shots from on set by photographer Autumn de Wilde.


Illustrations: Kate and Laura Mulleavy for Rodarte. Photos: Autumn de Wilde

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