100 posts tagged "Madonna"
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.
Aside from maybe a tiara, nothing heightens the glamour of a full-on evening look quite like a pair of gloves. Eye-catching gauntlets turned up on the Lanvin, Gucci, and Oscar de la Renta Fall runways. And at last week’s high-wattage Met Gala, divas from Madonna to Beyoncé to Paloma Faith covered up their digits with statement-making pairs of varying lengths. Kim Kardashian’s custom Givenchy number was the talk of the town, but what really piqued our interest was the gown’s built-in gloves, which prompted speculation that Kim was concealing an engagement ring (you know Kanye would go all out with a rock for his baby mama).
This week’s New York magazine is the “Childhood in New York” issue, one close to my heart as someone who spent—and occasionally misspent—his childhood in the city. So did Zac Posen, who is among the natives who shared reminiscences with the mag of growing up downtown. New York then was a place where you could meet Polly Mellen at the Comme des Garçons store (still on Wooster Street!) just by admiring her shoes. It was also the days when Soho was good-old, bad-old Soho, where models lived and everyone else beelined. As Posen remembers it: “I would stare outside and watch all the supermodels living on Mercer and Greene Street and get a peek of Cindy Crawford or of Naomi Campbell. I remember when Madonna would go to the doctor, who was in the ground floor of my building. I mean, the street parted. She shut down Spring Street.”
“I can get out of a lot of things, but this dress is not one of them,” said burlesque star Dita Von Teese of the gown she donned to last night’s party at the Ace Hotel. The dress in question was the first fully articulated 3-D printed garment, which was conceptualized by designer Michael Schmidt. And the party, which drew the likes of Debbie Harry, Bob Gruen, and Andrej Pejic, served to toast its unveiling. “I was interested in finding the middle ground between the world of mathematics and the world of ephemeral beauty,” Schmidt told Style.com. The L.A.-based designer, who has crafted looks for stars like Madonna, Cher, and Lady Gaga (the latter wore his glass-bubble costume on the cover of Rolling Stone in 2009), conceived Von Teese’s frock with Fibonacci’s Golden Ratio in mind.
With the help of computational designer and architect Francis Bitonti, Schmidt used 3-D software to realize his space-age gown (think cinched waist and steroidal shoulders). The dress began as a digital rendering, which was then engineered in powdered nylon by high-tech collaborator Shapeways. “As an architect, it’s all about dealing with facades, and this was just about making a curvy one,” mused Bitonti. The body-skimming dress featured an undulating mesh silhouette of three thousand articulated joints fashioned out of layered nylon powder. As if that weren’t complicated enough, it also boasted twelve thousand Swarovski black crystals, which were painstakingly placed by hand after printing. “It’s obviously very futuristic, but I tried to retain a level of old-world glamour that was befitting of Dita,” added Schmidt. Indeed, the Blade Runner-meets-Bettie Page ensemble was worthy of the millennial pinup. “It’s superlight,” Von Teese mused later that evening after slipping into a demure Roland Mouret shift. But was it comfortable? “The only uncomfortable part is that I needed to be very cautious about how I walked. I had to make sure my heels wouldn’t get stuck in the hem.” Even in the future, glamour’s got its obstacles.