10 posts tagged "Arianne Phillips"
You’d think that, after working with Madonna for 15 years, Arianne Phillips would have seen it all. But Phillips, the stylist and costume designer behind a decade and a half of Madonna videos and performances, as well as films like Walk the Line and W.E., says that the pop star’s 2012 MDNA world tour was like nothing she had ever experienced. “There were an epic amount, a tsunami, of costumes,” Phillips told Style.com of the show’s wardrobe, which included an updated iteration of Madonna’s iconic cone bra by Jean Paul Gaultier. “And we aren’t talking tennis shoes and sneakers—it’s costume and fashion.” Prior to the premiere of Madonna: The MDNA Tour, a documentary that airs on Epix tonight at 8 p.m., Phillips, who’s currently in London working on a new film, talked to Style.com about the MDNA costumes, Madonna’s collaboration with Jean Paul Gaultier, and what it takes to put on an unforgettable show.
Where do you begin when designing costumes for Madonna?
Well, it always starts with the music, of course, and usually Madonna crafts a set list that’s part of a narrative. It’s a story with a beginning, middle, and end. This show was really about transformation. Each act had a different theme and costume had a purpose. This tour with her was definitely the biggest undertaking I have been a part of—on the technical side and on the conceptual side. It’s one thing to just design a costume for Madonna herself, but if you think about it, we had 23 dancers, five band members, and two background singers. And everyone requires multiple costume changes.
How do the costumes help express the show’s narrative?
We think of it as characters, and [Madonna] is playing a part. That character requires development and visuals in addition to the songs she’s singing. In the beginning of the show, she comes out dressed like a queen in a crown with a machine gun. She takes that off to reveal this super-vixen character that we kind of debuted in the “Girl Gone Wild” video. The next act is all about expression and having a message, and it opens up with “Express Yourself.” She’s wearing this homage to a forties majorette. The third act is “Vogue,” and it’s all about identity and gender-bending—iconic Madonna. She’s trying to figure out who she is again. And in the end, it’s a celebration, and she transforms into this powerful Joan of Arc character. Everyone is wearing mesh T-shirts, and it’s just like a really fun party. The tour gave her an opportunity to take classic songs like “Papa Don’t Preach” and give them a new twist. She has been performing these same songs forever, but she’s the queen of reinvention, and she creates an entertaining concept for the shows that keeps it interesting and relevant. The costumes have to underscore that, and they have to provoke and entertain.
How many costume changes did Madonna do throughout the course of the show?
The costumes are part of the choreography, so we have a lot of quick changes, and people are literally changing clothes under the stage. Madonna changes full costumes about four times. But then, for instance, for the “Vogue” act, she comes out in the Gaultier corset and then she disrobes. So by the end of the act, when she sings “Like a Virgin,” she is in a corset and a bra, and she has done different songs in different deconstructions of the outfit. So her costumes change for almost every song.
Madonna kicked off the North American portion of her worldwide MDNA tour last night in Philadelphia and brings it to NYC next Thursday (September 6), just as fashion week gets under way. It’s fitting timing, given that her extravagant show might as well be a runway show in itself. Her longtime stylist and collaborator Arianne Phillips helped curate custom costumes by everyone from Alexander Wang to Jeremy Scott to Fausto Puglisi, totaling up to eight outfit changes per show (her dancers reportedly switch 10 to 15 times). And since Madge is never one to go light on shine, many of the costumes are decadently embellished with Swarovski Crystal elements (over 315,000 of them used on the tour). Here, get an exclusive backstage look at how the sparkle all happens.
“The other people in the exhibit, like Ed Harris, Todd Haynes, and Vittorio Storaro, these are heroes of mine and they are people who have informed my work. To think that I could even be considered in the same context as them is like winning ten Oscars, seriously,” says acclaimed costume designer Arianne Phillips, whose Oscar-nominated creations for Madonna’s film W.E. are included in the second series (out of three total) of the Persol Magnificent Obsessions: 30 Stories of Craftsmanship in Film exhibition at New York’s Museum of the Moving Image, along with various notes, rare sketches, video interviews, and materials from films such as Amélie, Far From Heaven, The Last Emperor, and Million Dollar Baby. “It’s both awesome and daunting—it feels a bit like we aren’t in Kansas anymore,” she says of being included in the project. Modest as she might be, the frequent Madonna collaborator and two-time Oscar nominee has earned her spot in the museum next to the nine other filmmaker greats, like special effects guru Douglas Trumbull and composer Ennio Morricone. Binding the elite group together is a story highlighting the obsessive workmanship behind some of film’s most iconic moments. In the case of Phillips, it’s her deep obsession with the transformative power of costume. Before heading to the museum last night, where Persol hosted a party to unveil the exhibition and honor Phillips, Patricia Clarkson, and Todd Haynes, the costume designer talked with Style.com yesterday afternoon about the W.E. artifacts that are now on display, working on Madonna’s MDNA tour, and her own obsessions.
You created more than 60 different outfits just for Andrea Riseborough (who plays the legendary Wallis Simpson in the film). Tell me about some of the artifacts and materials from W.E. that made it into the exhibition.
Lucky for us, our director Madonna has an extensive archive of her own with a full-time archivist, so the costumes from the film are being preserved there. A lot of times when the film is over, you can’t even find them because the costumes are being used for promotional purposes, but we have the costumes in perfect condition. There is a day dress (blue and white silk) that is not based on any dress Wallis actually wore. That’s one of my favorite pieces, and there are a few dresses based on ones by Madeleine Vionnet, but there is also one of the Schiaparelli black and white crepe dresses, which is quite famous. Interestingly enough, one of the real ones is on display at the Met right now (for the Prada/Schiaparelli exhibit) and it’s the exact same one I looked at in the costume archives when I was researching for this film and made our version (pictured, above). We also worked with Cartier and re-created jewelry pieces based on pieces the Duke and Duchess owned. They are actually going to be destroyed once this exhibition is over because just like a great painting, they can’t have replicas sitting around. Trust me, Madonna and I have cried many times over this.
How closely did you work with the curator Michael Connor on selecting these pieces for the exhibit?
Michael came out to L.A. where I live, and when they first asked, I was really excited, especially for costume to be recognized in such a way. I am always looking to speak about costuming publicly because it’s an aspect of filmmaking that is not completely understood. He really went out of his way to make sure I was involved every step of the way. We went through all my archives, which were pretty fresh because we only had finished filming a year ago. I was about as involved as you could get in putting this together.
How do these pieces fit into this overarching concept of obsession in the exhibition?
In terms of magnificent obsession, I leave that up to Michael Connor and Persol. I am obsessive about details, I really am and I admit it. But also, I worked with a director, Madonna, who (I worked with her over 15 years) is magnificently obsessed with details and that’s very apparent in the film. I try to infuse those details into a costume to help the actor harness this character and help catapult the actor. Costumes really serve two purposes. Visually, they obviously form the character, and really enrich the viewer and help set a time and place. But also I believe it’s equally important for the actor. Costumes should be a way to catapult an actor into a time and place. Those visceral, tactile aspects are equally important, like how the dresses felt on Andrea and how the suits felt on James D’Arcy.
Specifically, what elements of costume design do you obsess over?
You are speaking my language. I obsess about perfection every step of the way. I always feel there is more that can be done. I do a lot of research and I try to diversify it as much as possible and this film really tapped into that. And I obsess about the organization of it. I am always very obsessive about my presentation, I do elaborate presentations to the director and this helps my process and filters what will be valuable in the design process. I am really big on accessories and color and silhouette. I really want to know cinematically how a costume will work visually. And, I am obsessive about how costumes fit an actor. I guess there is no limit to obsession, really. That is the problem with obsession, it’s a mind-set, it’s a hindrance and an advantage. You have to know when is enough. Sometimes your first inspiration is your best inspiration. For me, obsession means going to whatever length possible to get the job done.
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Derek Lam has reportedly left Tod’s. WWD reports this morning that Lam, who has served as the brand’s creative director since 2006, has departed the brand but could not be reached for comment. [WWD]
The staff at Kensington Palace got their new Jaeger-designed uniforms yesterday. The red blazers, trimmed with gold buttons and black lapels, are the first new uniform for palace staff in two decades. [Telegraph]
Footwear News unveiled a first glimpse of Madonna’s new footwear collection under the Truth or Dare label today. The pop star received a little help from her friend and stylist Arianne Phillips, who serves as the creative consultant for the collection of over 60 styles ($89 to $349), launching for Fall ’12. [WWD]
Who are the most important people in fashion? The Telegraph released its annual 25 Most Important People in Fashion list this weekend, and included are Karl Lagerfeld, Lulu Kennedy, Samantha Cameron, and Sarah Burton. [Vogue U.K.]