‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ Costuming Offers New Portraits of Lead Characters

'Oz the Great and Powerful' Costumes'Oz the Great and Powerful' CostumesWalt Disney Studios has provided us with new looks of the main characters of its upcoming production, Oz the Great and Powerful, in theaters March 8, 2013. Nearly 2,000 individual costumes were created for the film by designers Gary Jones and Michael Kutsche, including those you see here belonging to Oscar Diggs/Oz (James Franco), Glinda (Michelle Williams), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Theodra (Mila Kunis).

Costume designer Gary Jones worked closely with both director Sam Raimi and actor James Franco to conceive the look of Oscar Diggs aka Oz, saying, ‘In preparing Oz’s clothes, Sam had a very clear idea what he wanted. I had met with James as well, and we were all heading in the same direction, which was terrific.’

Jones’ research for Franco’s tailoring took him on a journey that had nostalgic meaning for the veteran costumer, who has a history with Ringling Bros. ‘Our story begins in a circus, which is the most period-accurate part of the film,’ the longtime designer says. ‘We researched everything from the largest circus to the poorest, most downtrodden carnival entertainers from the turn-of-the-century to the Dust Bowl. We covered the period between 1880-1930 in our research. Having worked with the Ringling Bros. circus was an added joy because I loved that experience. So, to have another moment with a circus was really terrific for me.’

‘For Evanora, the ruler of Emerald City, the starting point was looking at the architecture of the city,’ Kutsche says. ‘I really wanted her to not just be some person in this place, but to actually be this place. The shape and color of her wardrobe actually reflect the architecture and feel of Emerald City, which was Art Deco inspired. So, by resembling and reflecting that, I could make her more of a mighty being that stands out against all the other citizens, and the other witches as well.’

In defining the pair of opposing enchantresses (Evanora and Glinda) through wardrobe design, costumer Jones describes his approach: ‘The witches are very clearly light and dark to contrast good and evil. We used a mercury green color, all having to do with Robert’s Emerald City design, to portray Evanora. Glinda, of course, is basically a white, pristine kind of girl in the story, and we created three different white dresses or gowns for Michelle’s character.’

Michelle Williams liked the transitions that Glinda’s costuming took during the course of the story. She says, ‘When we first meet Glinda, she’s more demure, cloaked in these very delicate fabrics. Then, as the battle dawns, she has a wardrobe change and appropriately suits up in something that is tougher, like fairy-princess armor.’

When we first meet Evanora’s little sister, the bewitchingly beautiful and vulnerable Theodora, she is wearing a Victorian-styled riding outfit, with a large-brimmed red velvet hat that Kutsche devised when he sat down to give life to the character in his concept sketch.

‘It’s in a fantasy world while still being a period piece in a way,’ Kutsche says. ‘So, I looked at fashion around 1900 when they had some pretty crazy hats. Theodora’s look is almost like a patchwork of different periods that makes it look like no distinct period. And that’s what I guess gives it this slightly fantastical feel.’

In comparing the sister witches Evanora and Theodora, costume designer Jones states that ‘one of the first times that the characters appeared together, you realize that they do have similarities in the cut of their clothes, but not at all in the feeling of the clothes. They’re two completely different worlds. Mila’s Theodora is a little more on the sporty, physical side, while Rachel’s costumes for Evanora are a little more of a reigning empress.’

‘The character goes through transformations with her costumes,’ Mila Kunis adds. ‘When you meet her, she’s very demure, very quiet, very sweet. She falls in love with Oscar and when you next see her, she’s in this big, beautiful ball gown.’

In addition to the principal cast, Jones and his staff of 60 costumers, seamstresses, textile artists, dyers and agers also created the clothes for all the diverse inhabitants of Oz, such as Quadlings, Munchkins, Tinkers, Emerald City citizens and Winkies.

In devising the shape and color palette to best reflect and define these assorted Ozians (most of whom were extras with no dialogue), Gary Jones chose to characterize the mood of these divergent groups through their clothing. Before putting thread to needle or dye to fabric, the Oscar®-nominated designer and his key collaborators (assistant designers Jessica Peel-Scott and Gali Noy and wardrobe supervisor John Casey) spent hours researching fashion trends from various periods. As Jones explains, ‘We needed to create the world that these characters live in, much as Robert Stromberg did with his sets.’

‘While our research was concentrated on the turn of the 20th century,’ Jones relates, ‘our costume designs came from both that historical point-of-view while reflecting a more contemporary style, a fashion point-of-view having to do with what our eye sees today, in 2013, as fashionable and attractive.’

‘In Glinda’s world, that of the Quadlings and Munchkins, these are the happy people of Oz,’ Jones states in describing the mood of the inhabitants and how that guided his choice of wardrobe colors. ‘They’re butchers, bakers, and the like, who toil in the normal ways of life. A rather happy, simple group of folks, who we defined with bright colors and pretty clothes. To contrast that, in Emerald City, we’re faced with people who are doing work under duress, under the thumb of the wicked Evanora. Therefore a little more repressed, more buttoned up. So we made their clothes in strong, jewel-tone colors [rich reds and greens and blues] but in a very formal and stylized way. Of course, with a little hint of extra green because of Emerald City. And the more ominous blacks and grays as well to portray that repressed mood. They have some of the same shapes that the people who live in Glinda’s world do, but they’re more conservative in every way. The people who live in Glinda’s world are all in pale pastels, earth tones, cream colors. Even their shoes and hats.’

As for the Winkies, ‘They are the guards at the palace in Emerald City,’ Jones describes. ‘They work for Evanora, one of the evil people in our movie. Their military-styled costumes were inspired by Russian and Prussian uniforms. All the Winkie outfits were made for people who are six-foot-nine or taller. So we had an army of 50 people who were around seven-feet tall. And — if seven-feet tall was not enough — Sam wanted us to enhance these soldiers by adding approximately another eighteen to twenty inches in height with feathered hats. They’re also Prussian in feeling and were made from felt, wool and black, iridescent feathers.’

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4 thoughts on “‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ Costuming Offers New Portraits of Lead Characters

  1. I am a big Raimi fan and want to believe this is going to be great, but there is no interest in this movie among anyone I know. The images they have released are not convincing at all. Is Disney trying to market this movie? Is anyone home in Burbank?

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