Wednesday, March 2, 2016

More Than a Look "Carol" Costume & "Mad Max" Makeup, the Psychology of Clothes & Cosmetics at Vanity Fair during Oscar Week.

By Laura Medina

 Sure, we all love the glossy perfection of Vanity Fair's Hollywood Issue.  Who doesn't?

But at Vanity Fair Social Club, it dives deep into the psychology of hair, makeup, and costume in movies and how they all fill out the roles of the characters.

Sandy Powell, Costume Designer on the lesbian romance movie, "Carol," talked about the importance of being era and time appropriate to the script, the novel, and the movie.

She talked about being perfectly "coiffed" and styled as a shield of armor, especially regarding gay and lesbian relationships during the conservative Eisenhower Fifties, when the movie, "Carol" was set.

Sandy had to educated the mostly Millennial media audience it was much more difficult for homosexual women, than it was for homosexual men, to pursue a same-gender romantic relationship.  In order to pass in society, lesbians have to marry men to pass, the same way gay men have to marry women and start a family to pass.

For Sandy, "Carol" was an interesting dynamic in class, socio-economic dressing.  In "Carol," it was upper-class, married established versus young, emerging college graduate in the Fifties.  Books about gay relationships were written as "pulp fiction" during that time when sexual/romantic expression of any type beyond the norm were treated as underground and by restrain.  The more restrain there is, the higher the tension, more the smolder.  This is how Sandy Powell designed and constructed the "Carol" costumes.

For the title character, Carol, Sandy wanted to show that's she's an older lesbian who married into upper-middle class wealth in the Forties, expressed in expensive, luxurious Fifties fabric in Forties tailoring with haute couture stitching.  Sandy made an indirect dig towards the sleek Anna Wintour.  The more polished a character is in appearance, the more likely her hair, makeup, and clothes are a suit of armor.

Whereas with Carol's object of affection, the shop girl-aspiring photojournalist, Therese, Sandy dressed her in cute but affordable, school-girl-sque plaids and checks in fuller, swinging poodle skirts to show her younger age and the fact she just graduated from college.

The fact that Carol is the older and wealthier than the younger, poorer Therese, Sandy plays off the power dynamic of Carol dominating Therese in the older/young relationship.

Sandy Powell advised aspiring costume designers, please read the book that the script is based on, please read the script, and do your homework, researching the time, the era, and the character's monetary budget when it comes to them buying their clothes and accessories.  Oh yeah, remember the characters' age and milestone markers.

All those determine who your characters are and these will be your characters' style guide through-out the movie.

The Makeup Artist is in cahoots with the costume designer so the characters will be in synch and wouldn't drive the director and the audience nuts.

Lesley Vanderwalt, makeup artist for "Mad Max, Fury Road," equally discussed the costuming alongside the sun protection while shooting in the middle of Nambian Desert...with very pale actors for nine long months.

Lesley informed the captive media audience she paired tribal/war headgear and war paint with Jenny Beaven's raggedy clothes of scavengers that everyone is in "Mad Max, Fury Road."

In an Oscar Week buried in racial in-progress, Lesley Vanderwalt (alongside Patricia Arquette) talk about gender rights, equality, and that "Mad Max, Fury Road" is really is Imperator Furiosa's movie.  Charlize Theron did the same type and same amount of non-verbal, physical action as much as Leo DiCaprio but was never nominated.  As anyone who worked or watched the movie, the central protagionist is Furiosa and Max was a secondary, accessory character.

Working with the budget and UV ray protection, Lesley used tons and tons of titanium dioxide powder to cover the actors in head-to-toe sun block protection and also as white war paint.

Discussing costume and makeup psychology at Vanity Fair Social Club goes beyond skin deep. 
Jenny Beaven
Jenny Beaven


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