Who can forget John Travolta’s crotch hugging, fan flaring bell bottoms while he was bringing his “bling on” with sequenced shirts that screamed — Night fever, night fever! (use that high-pitched voice why don’t you?) And, ‘What about, Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ — Audrey Hepburn gave the world Urban Chic without even trying. It’s almost passé to mention Marilyn Monroe in a white dress or Tom Cruise serving up more than just Cocktails.
Oscar Wilde said, “You can either be a work of art of wear one,” and then there are those times when the fine line between art and fashion dwindle. What goes into the creation of these iconic style statements that get adopted almost instantly and revisited time after time in newer fresher versions.
First hand, it’s not all roses and vanity. Years of working alongside film stylists, designers and costume specialists has given me a newfound respect for people so passionate about their craft, they work relentlessly to bring an idea to life.
Pushing the boundaries of their imagination, not compromising, working against time, re-working the entire ensemble at 2 am, not dwelling on things beyond their control but delivering a vision, despite all odds.
Let’s put this in perspective shall we, director walks into the scene and says. “I want history but with a modern sexy twist” or “I see the style on this film as iconic, but nothing you’ve ever seen before.” Confusing no?
Somewhere between this oxymoron lies a vision and to the trained eye who is constantly trying to find new expressions of their craft, these are golden words that push the boundaries of what most people call fashion or fashion for film to be more precise.
Can you imagine what that brief to the costume designer on Mel Gibson’s Braveheart would have been? Or for that matter the current obsession Game of Thrones — period and fantasy melded into one vision.
I’ve got three words for you — research, research, research! From paintings at the museum, to history books, to medieval practices in weaving, to traces on archaeological references. What kind of fabric was used then? How do you get that colour palette — vegetable dyes? How do you get that look in this day and age, trace an old loom still in working condition? Still think fashion is vanity?
We don’t really need to look that far as Hollywood or world cinema.
Our own home-grown cinema has come such a long way in terms of attention to detail and expression that gets more and more fine-tuned along the way. I had the pleasure of working with this bundle of energy way back when she was till an excited intern completely enamoured by the craft of film making. Today a winner of awards for her work in Bajirao Mastani, she has blossomed into a powerhouse of ideas and positivity that infects an entire set.
Maxima Basu, costume designer, Bajirao Mastani says, “The discussion on the route and vision went on for months. The core was about showing the state of glory and riches of the Peshwa community in the 17-18th century Maharashtra. Bajirao was a conqueror, so the gems, stones, silks and glory came with the premise. That became elements to play with. My brief was to truly do justice to the period and regional references made in terms of the looks.
So the headgears, ornaments etc everything had to be carefully chosen. The look and stylising had to tell a story as well. We actually used some rare antique pieces. The process that led to the final look of the film was driven by a detailed pre-production period.
Research, sketches, fabrication, setting up colour palettes with background etc, fabrication and then shoot. A lot of it was inspired by the Pune Peshwa museum, the Kelkar museum and the Parbati museum. Pune is the heart of Maharashtrian Brahmin community, so Pune had a lot to offer from its Peths, where Shaniwarwada is, the Paithani dealers. etc.
We prepped for six months and shot for a year. so roughly one year and eight months were spent bringing Bajirao Mastani to life in terms of reflecting the period and story with its own unique style.” So, the next episode of GOT that your soaking in, imagine all that work going on behind the scenes in the name of fashion.
A fashion aficionado, film maker, script writer, stylist and marketing junkie. The writer indulges in the latest fashion and currently drives marketing for youth fashion brands in Indus League — A division of FLF.....