The Twilight Saga: Costume Design Rewind

30 Nov

By Open Book

It’s no secret the Twilight saga has had some issues in the wardrobe, hair and make-up department. Now to some this may seem rather trivial. Yet, something as subtle as a bad wig can ruin or make a dramatic scene comical. A successful costume design is one that enhances an actor’s performance and aids in telling the story. The Twilight franchise produced five films in all. Beginning with Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn: Part 1 and Breaking Dawn: Part 2. All these films were told from Bella Swan’s perspective, which dictated the “magical realism” (depiction of subjects as they appear in everyday life) production and costume design for these films. In this article we will try to understand if wardrobe, hair and make-up could have helped or hindered the critical credibility of the Twilight films.

MAGIC REALISM:

What is magic realism?

“Magic realism or magical realism is an aesthetic style or genre of fiction[1] in which magical elements blend with the real world. The story explains these magical elements as real occurrences, presented in a straightforward manner that places the “real” and the “fantastic” in the same stream of thought. It is a film, literary and visual art genre.”[1]

One can argue the Twilight series is science-fiction or fantasy given the story is about vampires and werewolves. Yet, the story is narrated by Bella Swan (a real world high school student), which established the literal or realistic position designers needed to recognize.  One of the easy mistakes to pick out in costume development is the absence of realism after a character has gone through some traumatic situation.  The lack of explanation for why all the vampires clothing was perfectly coiffed despite fighting werewolves and newborn vampires was poorly executed by the writers, director and costume designer.  There was never a hair out of place, soiled, torn or ripped sleeves, pockets or pants? Did Bella edit these details when chronicling her story? This failed attempt to illustrate a vampire’s remarkable strength through his wardrobe was in direct contrast to the dramatic performances being portrayed on screen. Now one can go overboard with how much realism to show in melodramas before it goes into campy territory. However, a director when choosing what aesthetic/genre approach to take allows the costume designer to figure out the right balance that will reinforce an actor’s performance. Remember a costume should enhance an actor’s performance and storyline not diminish it and in Eclipse and in some parts of Breaking Dawn: Part 1 the costumes did both.

CONTINUITY:

Apart of a costume designers job is to track the evolution of each character’s costume on screen.  Tracking costumes for each scene is one-way continuity can be maintained but before any of that happens it starts with a director’s vision. Keeping the same director throughout a film series is one way to guarantee the production value stays consistent. Take for example Peter Jackson’s critically and commercially successful The Lord of the Rings trilogy or Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. With each film the production design, CGI, directing, acting and costume design is consistent without any drastic or jarring style differences that would compete with the overall storyline or performances.  Sure for some franchises choosing a different director has proven to be a critical success, case in point Harry Potter yet Twilight failed at it. Why?

TWILIGHT:

The very first film directed by Catherine Hardwicke had a dark melodramatic style that appealed to MTV female tween audience.  Having worked as a production designer Hardwicke knew how to create an intimate environment that complimented the narrative. Her interest in color manipulation, visual metaphors and environments allowed costume designer Wendy Chuck to be more confident with her designs. Chuck states in an interview from Entertainment Weekly,

”I wanted to dress Bella (Kristen Stewart) apart from the Forks kids because she arrives there as an outsider [from Arizona],” explains Twilight‘s costume designer, Wendy Chuck. ”She’s in lots of warm earth tones, with some Southwestern elements thrown in.” Being the new girl in school wasn’t the only obstacle Bella faced: ”Having come from a warm, sunny climate to the rainy gloom of Forks, we wanted to make her unprepared for the cold and the rain.” Which is why, Chuck explains, we don’t see Bella in a raincoat until later on in the tale.”[2]

The success of the first film despite the low-budget set the stage for audiences to get comfortable with how the other films might be handled stylistically. Yet, the next two films brought about drastic aesthetic differences that worked against the romantic intimacy created by Hardwicke.

NEW MOON & ECLIPSE:

Equipped with a bigger budget and new director the production design for New Moon and Eclipse got a complete and drastic makeover.  The blue lighting effects in Twilight that intensified the dark melodramatic mood was gone. Instead Chris Weitz (the director of New Moon) paired the melodramatic genre with action. Although, the warm lighting and refined production and costume design was elegant it reduced the intimacy created in the first film. Weitz’s vision to add scope and action overwhelmed the romantic narrative and alienated young audience from the series. Tish Monaghan designed the costumes for both New Moon and Eclipse. Monaghan is the the only designer to attempt to distress Edward’s wardrobe. However, her refined silhouettes in New Moon proved to be too drastic for young audiences despite Weitz and Monaghan complimentary collaboration and refined design detail to the narrative.

David Slade was the third director to come on board for Eclipse. Slade known for directing horror and psychological thrillers added more realism to this film. Combining his dark horror with action he hoped to appeal to a male audience yet coupled with romantic melodrama it did not strike the right balance. Once again audiences were distracted by the drastic style differences and major continuity problems in wardrobe hair and make-up. In Eclipse Monaghan did away with the refined silhouette of sport coats and suits for Edward and his silhouette changed to sweaters, hoodies and jeans. Bella had the biggest makeover given the actress wore four different wigs which became comical and a major distraction from scene to scene. Bella’s wardrobe did not reflect her current situation given she was now a senior in high school and BFF’s with a persistent fashion design vampire named Alice.

In fact one of the most disappointing aspects to the wardrobe was the poor character development. The look of both Edward and Bella were very detached from the characters aspirations. For example, Edward did not dress to impress Bella but instead dressed to blend in with other high school students.  Why? In Eclipse Edward was competing with a scantily clad Jacob who could not keep his shirt on!  One would think Edward’s wardrobe might reflect his insecurity by overcompensating in the wardrobe department. Hint! We know Bella has a thing for the classics. Bella states in the first Twilight book how attractive Edward looked in a tan leather sport coat. Hmm! What happened? Did the Cullen’s get audited and  had to shop at the GAP? Also, the Cullen’s battle attire to fight the newborn vampires never sustained any damage. Eclipse more than any of the other asks audiences to set aside all common sense and forget the storyline which worked against its continuity and credibility of this film.

BREAKING DAWN: PART 1 & PART 2

Bill Condon the critically acclaimed director of Dreamgirls and Kinsey seemed to be an odd choice for Twilight? However, his experience with musicals and drama has proven to be the right mixture. Why? Twilight soundtracks may prove to outlast Edward Cullen himself according to an article in Fast Company,

The first Twilight soundtrack went double platinum (over two million units); the second went platinum; and the third went gold. Artists such as Muse, Death Cab for Cutie, The Killers, The Black Keys, Bon Iver, and Bruno Mars have each experienced sales boosts after being included on the soundtracks, a phenomenon the Boston Herald‘s Jed Gottlieb dubbed the “Twilight bump.”[3]

What Twilight audiences fell in love with was the melodramatic intimacy created by Hardwicke in the first film. So it was no wonder Bill Condon (with his musical/dramatic film background) struck the right cord (no pun intended) with Breaking Dawn: Part 1.  Bill Condon told a story for each scene using music and visual metaphors to compliment the storyline. The production and costume design was lavish in scope but romantic and suggestive to the characters consciousness.  Michael Wilkinson is the costume designer for Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1 & 2. Michael Wilkinson who designed costumes for 300, Watchmen and Man of Steel (Superman reboot) is quite impressive, to say the least. In an interview from Style/MTV Wilkinson talks about his process,[4]

“My first step is to absorb the script and get into the character’s heads to figure out how they feel about themselves and the world around them. We think colors, textures, silhouettes and fabrics and that’s my first step. From that I do massive amounts of research and I put up my boards with all my references for each character. I go online, do extensive research, go through magazine tear sheets and then I hit the stores and I do more research and call on my friends and contacts in the fashion industry. I try to cast the net wide. I don’t think it makes sense on camera if a certain character only wears certain designers.” To read the entire interview  click here.

The success of Breaking Dawn in terms of the production and costume design is without a doubt the best in the series so far. Yet, to go back to the issue of realism and believability. The costumes worked against the actor’s performance in one particular scene the Cullen’s vs. Wolves. Unfortunately, the lack of distress clothing after the Cullen’s (who looked to be loosing the battle) with wolves biting and clawing at their limbs was a bit comical. Wow! That is some mighty impressive werewolf resistant fabric.

Also see- Breaking Dawn: Imprinting Deconstructed

Please join our discussion Thursday 12/1/2011@7pE/12UTC

94 Responses to “The Twilight Saga: Costume Design Rewind”

  1. 4string November 30, 2011 at 9:50 AM #

    Oh man. There’s so much we can say about the Twilight wardrobes. lol Hardwicke, IMO did the best job with both the soundtrack and hair/wardrobe. The wigs and extensions were laughable in the other movies. Even Bella’s hairpiece in BD looks scraggly. And poor Peter/Carlisle. He def got the shortest end of the stick after the first movie. These people were supposed to be beautiful and instead, they turned into looking like the creepiest creepers ever. lol Also, book Alice would not have let them dress so badly as they did in NM-BD. The book describes their clothes as simple, but hinting at designer origins–well made, good fit, high quality fabric, etc.

    • Open Book December 1, 2011 at 1:30 PM #

      Hi 4strings,

      I think both Carlisle and Eseme suffered the most from ” I don’t know what to do with these characters” disease. I think they were the most difficult TBH. Why? After Twilight the characters needed to evolve or get older. So that meant the wardrobe had to evolve as well. I just think both Carlisle and Eseme got lost after Twilight and started to become more trendy as the others became more conservative. I thought Wendy Chuck did the best job of distinguishing who the parent vs. minor was for audiences. After Twilight it was less the case.

      Do u think they should have kept Hardwicke for the entire series?

      • littlebells December 1, 2011 at 3:16 PM #

        Honestly, yes I do. I think she captured the true spirit of Twilight.

        • Open Book December 1, 2011 at 6:55 PM #

          LB-

          Ultimately, I agree with u. But can u explain what the true spirit of Twilight is?

  2. littlebells November 30, 2011 at 11:52 AM #

    OH MY GOSH I LOVE THIS ARTICLE!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have so much to say and agree with 4string. Will be back!

    Excellent article Open Book! :)

    • Open Book December 1, 2011 at 1:31 PM #

      LOL! Thanks LB.

      Can’t wait to hear your thoughts.

  3. comic relief November 30, 2011 at 1:30 PM #

    OB,

    Though complicated this was a complex yet enjoyable read.

    I know this topic is outside of the scope of the article, but I saw “Breaking Dawn: Part 1” recently and did not find Michael Wilkinson’s costume management or Bill Condon’s direction of the wolf pack believable at all.

    In one scene the Cullen vampires, Esme, Carlyle and Emmet wanted to feed so they took off into the woods and unfortunately ran in to part of the wolf pack.

    The other part of the Wolf pack confronted Jacob at the Cullen residence. Seemingly not aware of the other Cullen confrontation (seems like Wolf telepathy disappeared for that event). Jacob supposedly distracts them for a bit of time (to help the Cullen’s get away). When the Pack leaves they shred another pair of clothes.

    That was at least the second pair of clothes that day. The wolves likely shredded another pair of clothes to get to the residence. Exactly how wealthy are they, I thought they were poor? I think poor folks would be more inclined to step out of their clothes to keep the clothes purchases down. Do the Quileute’s own of dip into the clothes supply at the local Salvation Army to save money??????

    • comic relief November 30, 2011 at 1:34 PM #

      “or” dip into…

    • Open Book December 1, 2011 at 1:57 PM #

      Hi CR-

      I’m glad u found it enjoyable to read despite me over complicating things. Sorry! Hopefully, I can answer some of your other questions in tonight’s discussion.

      Yet, to answer your wolf pack wardrobe questions.IMO! I think the wolf pack wardrobe was the worst developed and a major distraction. I think their wardrobe should have been re-imagined by the writer and director. I mean they were shape shifters? Meaning the wolf pack could have shape shifted into whatever clothes they saw another person wearing. Sorta like Mystique in the X-Men. There u go problem solved!! No need to get into how well they’re managing their finances.

      • comic relief December 1, 2011 at 6:05 PM #

        Hey you make that sound like criticism. I also said “enjoyable read.” Here’s one of your “favorite” scences. This was one of the scenes with the indestructible clothing you mentioned.

        • comic relief December 1, 2011 at 6:09 PM #

          sorry;

          …Here’s one of your “favorite” SCENES….

          • Open Book December 1, 2011 at 6:57 PM #

            LOL!! My what delicate claws u have Mr. Wolf. That’s all I kept thinking.

            • Littlebells December 1, 2011 at 7:00 PM #

              Only 6 more days till I see BD, so I’m going to refrain from watching. Oh but no doubt, I shall return!

              • ozzie20 December 1, 2011 at 7:36 PM #

                Oh LB! I can’t wait for you to see that part. Newtoy and I laugh everytime we see it! It is so bad!

                • Open Book December 1, 2011 at 7:44 PM #

                  Hi Ozzie!

                  • ozzie20 December 1, 2011 at 7:53 PM #

                    Hi OB!

                    For those that didn’t read the book, I think it said that they tied their clothes to their ankles or hid spare clothes around the forest. I think! I need someone with a better memory to help me out here, lol!

                    • Littlebells December 1, 2011 at 7:58 PM #

                      Ok, by raise of hands, how many of you would keep extra close tied to you or randomly laid out somewhere in the world? K, didn’t think so. ;)

                    • Open Book December 1, 2011 at 8:02 PM #

                      Yes! That’s true Ozzie. I think they needed to re-write how they attained their clothing. It just did not translate well into film. I don’t think audiences would have cared if they shape shifted back into the clothes they were wearing before or something. I think the wolves wardrobe was all over the place. Also they were suppose to grow each time they shape shifted too. What happened to Jacob?

                    • Littlebells December 1, 2011 at 8:06 PM #

                      OB! You are being too logical!!! :)

                    • ozzie20 December 1, 2011 at 8:06 PM #

                      Ah ha! I did remember it right! Good brain, now you can go back to trying to forget it, lol!

  4. comic relief November 30, 2011 at 1:32 PM #

    Hey OB,

    And what were those dumb newborn fighting faux X-men uniforms from Eclipse?
    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!

    • Open Book December 1, 2011 at 2:14 PM #

      Now that I think about it, they were like the X-Men: Last Stand costumes. lol But to give them credit they got rid of the cape. My only criticism is the lack of distress clothing given the newborn vamps are stronger. No ripped sleeves. Really?

  5. Open Book December 1, 2011 at 12:45 PM #

    Great comments, thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts.

    Far too often when people interview costume designers audiences hear the results of their decisions. Very rarely does anyone know why the wardrobe did or did not work.

    Some of u here are pretty sophisticated about this subject already so this info. may be a bit elementary. However, writing about costumes from this perspective allows some to see the prep work involved before costume designers actually sit down and design. Selecting the silhouette, color and fabric is the icing on the cake or the easy part.

    The hard part is analyzing the source material & script. Then becoming familiar with the world the costumes will inhabit based upon the directors vision and production design. Then after all that, they begin to analyze the internal dialogue and motivations of the character, how many wardrobe changes will occur and why etc…..I won’t even begin to discuss how color and texture is used to manipulate an audiences reaction in a scene. That’s another article entirely. But for the discussion tonight we will begin with the narrative, directors vision and production design to see what worked and why. I hope new and returning visitors can join us.

  6. littlebells December 1, 2011 at 2:57 PM #

    OB,

    You are going to think I’m crazy but I would love mini articles on each character wardrobe wig success and malfunction! Haha! I have so much to say and lots of exhibit A, B, C, D, and Es to share. :)

    I think may suffer from stubby finger syndrome by the time our discussion is over! :)

    • comic relief December 1, 2011 at 6:10 PM #

      I can’t wait.

  7. Littlebells December 1, 2011 at 6:49 PM #

    Ok, here is my deal with the whole Cullen family “look”. I think Twilight was the closest to what these characters really looked like. What bothered me about all the wig and costume changes was the fact that it made it seem like tons of time passed between the first and last book when really it’s like what, a year or something? The Cullen kids dressed teenagers, but with style, and the parents dressed like parents. My biggest peeve is Edward. OH MY GOSH WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO MY JAMES DEAN/TWILIGHT EDWARD????????????!!!!!!!!

    Exhibit A:
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v28/medinagirl09/Thatsrightbejealous.jpg
    http://img14.imageshack.us/img14/5652/image16uxw.jpg
    http://i29.tinypic.com/14c9zig.png

    Hell’s yeah!!!!

    Exhibit B:
    http://images5.fanpop.com/image/photos/25200000/Breaking-Dawn-teaser-screencaps-edward-and-bella-25215436-1024-435.jpg
    http://images5.fanpop.com/image/photos/25300000/Breaking-Dawn-Part-1-Trailer-HD-screencaps-edward-and-bella-25344512-1920-816.jpg

    Hello grandpa! Couldn’t they CGI out his wrinkles and why oh why can’t they make him still look 17!!!!!! Just because he lost the oh so sexy bouffant (personal preference) doesn’t mean he automatically looks like an old man. Geez folks!

    • Open Book December 1, 2011 at 7:34 PM #

      Yes! I like the James Dean look as well. But characters need to evolve. Do u think Edward should have kept the fifties feel to his silhouette instead of going in the Edwardian contemporary combination?

      • Littlebells December 1, 2011 at 7:43 PM #

        Not necessarily, but I think he was the kind who stayed trendy and didn’t go back in time. Edward wanted to blend in, remember? He didn’t want to be noticed, per se.

        • Open Book December 1, 2011 at 7:49 PM #

          Yes! ITA….They had to blend in. I think Edward could have evolved with color and texture not so drastic as changing his silhouette from a 50′s influence to a Edwardian influenced silhouette. I mean if it’s not broke……

    • comic relief December 1, 2011 at 7:36 PM #

      OUCH! I think he’s holding up a little better than that.

      I hope he’s wearing his stainless steel underoos.

      LB, a little cruel much, I thought we were talking about clothes not hair and make-up?

      …ignore me, I’m still trying to catch up…

      • Littlebells December 1, 2011 at 7:40 PM #

        Yeah, I’m cruel, but I’m just being honest. I put the hair with the costuming because it’s all part of the picture.

        Give me a moment, OB. I’m getting to your amazing concepts of costume design and how costumes are created. It’s extremely fascinating!

        • comic relief December 1, 2011 at 7:57 PM #

          Oh, well slay away.

          I feel like a Granny, who can’t understand how dead bodies can grow new hair anyway.

          …completely over my head, (or I’m being way too literal)…

          • Littlebells December 1, 2011 at 8:00 PM #

            “I feel like a Granny, who can’t understand how dead bodies can grow new hair anyway.”

            Exactly! It makes no sense. And I won’t even touch the topic of Jasper’s hair.

            • comic relief December 1, 2011 at 8:10 PM #

              “And I won’t even touch the topic of Jasper’s hair.”

              Thanks to the magic of the internet; you don’t have to.
              And we can still laugh anyway.

              • Littlebells December 1, 2011 at 8:41 PM #

                HAHAHAHA!!!!!! His hair went from natural to wig to long to short. say whaaaa??????

                • comic relief December 1, 2011 at 9:02 PM #

                  Wait until you see the new movie, it takes another turn there.

  8. Open Book December 1, 2011 at 6:51 PM #

    Hi Everyone-

    Welcome new and returning visitors to the discussion tonight. Please jump in if u have any comments or questions.

    • Littlebells December 1, 2011 at 6:56 PM #

      Oh I’m ready to jump in!

      hahaha!!!!

      • Open Book December 1, 2011 at 6:58 PM #

        Hahahahaha!!!

        Hi nice to see u. I hope I can keep up.

        • Littlebells December 1, 2011 at 6:59 PM #

          I’ll just sit in my corner till you’re ready. :)

          • Open Book December 1, 2011 at 7:05 PM #

            LB- I asked this up above also.

            Ultimately, I agree with u. But can u explain what the true spirit of Twilight is?

            • Littlebells December 1, 2011 at 7:16 PM #

              Staying as true to what the characters looked like, how they acted, and staying as close to the book as possible, focusing on the romance.

  9. Littlebells December 1, 2011 at 6:58 PM #

    Hi OB!

    I want to discuss all the amazing facts I learned about costume design, but I think I have to vent my frustrations of the craptastic job done for these movies. It has driven me batcrap crazy FOREVER!!!!

    • Open Book December 1, 2011 at 7:01 PM #

      Vent away!!

      • Littlebells December 1, 2011 at 7:20 PM #

        two of my comments are awaiting moderation because they are so big and have lots of pic links.

  10. Open Book December 1, 2011 at 7:10 PM #

    I brought up magical realism in my article. Let me explain why?

    I’m splitting hairs here but it’s something that needs to be discussed with any type of drama. Yes, Twilight is a melodrama meaning it’s a combination of music and drama and drama is considered realism. So when we are discussing any type of drama we are in fact talking about realism. Then a designer has to ask how literal or realistic are we talking? Then we look at the source material to make that determination. That’s why I’m saying the drama part of Twilight has a lot in common with magical realism. Also a filmmaker can add other elements to the main (melodramatic) theme. It can be romance, horror, action, comedy, fantasy, sci-fi etc….….All these distinctions can influence the costume design for example if we are talking action the silhouette may be sportswear depending how aware the characters are of the situation. A good example of this is when Bella is pushed by Edward in New Moon. There is some action but the characters are unaware of the action about to take place so a costume has to reflect what the character is feeling or experiencing.

    • Littlebells December 1, 2011 at 7:21 PM #

      That is fantastic and yet, let me read it again to make sure I understood it! haha! :)

      • comic relief December 1, 2011 at 7:38 PM #

        OB, Thanks for the recap.

  11. Open Book December 1, 2011 at 7:14 PM #

    A lot teen films from the 80’s are melodramas for example Pretty in Pink. Actually it has some similarities to Twilight. Blaine is Edward and Duckie is Jacob. What are your thoughts?

  12. Littlebells December 1, 2011 at 7:14 PM #

    Ok, now Alice. Her hair is described as taking scissors to it and just waking it off. I mean isn’t that what she did in the asylum. I thought Twilight hair was the closest to what that may look like. See Exhibit C: http://pics.haircutshairstyles.com/img/photos/full/2009-02/ashley_greene_as_alice_cullen_hairstyle176.jpg

    Then apparently her hair grew out, which, um…can’t since she’s frozen in time, but whatever… Exhibit D: http://api.ning.com/files/ys7yfYMnta2S7K945R0kGVVT9My6TOR83-DlMvcRaztSc99zVRN5ZrS7pbzMu4isEG*BmsgRGQVgQ1Tr0jddGx2o62gi4yEn/blog_00789_alice_cullen_ashley_greene_talks_alices_fashion_in_the_twilight_saga_new_moon1.jpg

    And then there is BD hair, which ok, so she cut it, but who made that choice. In the book it makes no mention of her or Edward wanting to get new ‘dos, so what happened there???? I do like it, but it’s not true of Alice.
    Exhibit E: http://www4.images.coolspotters.com/photos/713914/alice-cullen-gallery.png

  13. Open Book December 1, 2011 at 7:23 PM #

    I will give everyone a chance to get caught up. The reason Twilight became craptastic because of the make-up and wigs. When wigs and make-up is too extreme it looks unnatural and unrealistic. I think Twilight did a great job because Hardwicke used the blue lighting to make the Cullens look pale and therefore did not have to rely that heavely on make-up and wigs etc….

    • Littlebells December 1, 2011 at 7:26 PM #

      “because Hardwicke used the blue lighting to make the Cullens look pale and therefore did not have to rely that heavely on make-up and wigs etc….”

      YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!

      • Open Book December 1, 2011 at 7:42 PM #

        I’m not a fan of using alot of make-up, wigs in a drama because it’s too unnatural and overpowers the story. Also, it’s a distraction and for a melodrama u are already heading in the contrived camp territory. So to compound it with CGI, make-up and wigs it gets into fantasy and that’s not what Twilight is. IMO!!

        • Littlebells December 1, 2011 at 7:57 PM #

          That’s what it was!!! It became too campy and ridiculous with all that “stuff” when as reading the book, I felt it was more real, despite the vampires and wolves. Great analysis OB!

  14. comic relief December 1, 2011 at 7:48 PM #

    OB,

    In your opinion; do you believe Breaking Dawn Part: One is a costume drama? I ask because these can be difficult to discern when they are contemporary. Then again, you seemed to be clear you thought it was a melodrama. Could it be a costume melodrama? And if not why do you feel that way?

    • Open Book December 1, 2011 at 7:55 PM #

      Hi CR-

      Every film even if it takes place in present day requires costume analysis and character analysis. Every costume designer has to consider the characters economic and or socio class, season, profession, age, time period etc…. But yes Twilight is a melodrama.

      • comic relief December 1, 2011 at 7:58 PM #

        Was the Matrix a melodrama also?

        • Open Book December 1, 2011 at 8:09 PM #

          Well yes and no. TBH all films today use music to move a story along. However, it’s when u add lyrics to music to convey the emotions of a character instead of dialogue or even over an actors dialogue is when it becomes a melodrama. Does that make sense? I put up Pretty In Pink as an example of a melodrama. They were very popular in the 80′s.

          • comic relief December 1, 2011 at 8:14 PM #

            I think I get it now, the spoken or sung word is part of the definition. Hmmmmm

  15. Littlebells December 1, 2011 at 8:02 PM #

    OB,

    Your knowledge blows my mind! I honestly felt Twilight’s costumes were best in the first film. I felt these characters dressed how they were written. I do believe people should evolve, but Twilight also takes place in an extremely small space of time. It’s not like HP where it spanned ten years. Crap! Even they stayed more true to costume design, hair, and make up in those ten years than Twilight ever has!

    • Open Book December 1, 2011 at 8:17 PM #

      I think when they got into mixing in action, fantasy and horror elements to the design aesthetic they took it too far away from the romance and realism of the overall narrative. Also, Twilight fits into the magical realism category. KEY WORD BEING REALISM!!!!! They needed to keep it as natural as possible. Actually, choosing for it to be a melodrama was perfect because it enhanced and complimented the romantic/ magical realism storyline. Does that make sense?

      • Littlebells December 1, 2011 at 8:24 PM #

        yes!

        • Open Book December 1, 2011 at 8:32 PM #

          So now that u know all this about the different ways filmmakers mix different genres to tell a story. Does it give u more of an idea of how costumes can respond to a directors vision for the film?

        • Open Book December 1, 2011 at 8:36 PM #

          Also them choosing melodrama was good for marketing it to teens. Plus it catered to the whole nostalgia film trend happening at the time.

    • comic relief December 1, 2011 at 8:26 PM #

      To what degree is Harry Potter a melodrama? I did not think it was.

      • Littlebells December 1, 2011 at 8:40 PM #

        Oh I was just thinking about continuity…

  16. Littlebells December 1, 2011 at 8:12 PM #

    OB,

    What are some of the films you feel have done an exceptional job keeping costumes real, authentic, and another way to tell the story?

    • Open Book December 1, 2011 at 8:24 PM #

      Good Q LB! Give me a moment.

      • Littlebells December 1, 2011 at 8:29 PM #

        No problem. You can come back later with this answer. I know you must have a very large file. ;)

        • Open Book December 2, 2011 at 10:53 AM #

          Hi LB-

          Yes! I do have a few. On a scale of 1-10 because there is a gradual but noticeable character evolution/transformation where costumes aids in telling the story. I like designer Ann Roth a lot for this reason. Films I gave a 10 is where there is a male and female character transformation.

          Mildred Pierce-9
          Julia & Julia-9
          Cold Mountain-10
          The Talented Mr. Ripley-9
          The Good Shepherd-9
          The Reader-9

          Non-Ann Roth films
          The Aviator-9
          Gangs of New York-9
          Reds-10
          Coco before Chanel-9
          Batman Begins-9
          American Gangster-9
          Usual Suspects-9
          La Vie en Rose-9
          Public Enemies-8
          Elizabeth-9

          I have more but these are just a few.

          • littlebells December 2, 2011 at 3:02 PM #

            Thank you OB! I will check out some of the costumes later this evening and get back to you. :)

  17. comic relief December 1, 2011 at 8:29 PM #

    OB,

    When you get done with LB’s question?

    In theatre, the design areas to me seem so clear; costumes, hair & make-up, lighting, sets, props, etc… do you believe Condon’s Production design corresponded well with costumes?

    • Open Book December 1, 2011 at 8:48 PM #

      Well the issue is not if the costumes corresponded well with the production design. The issue is if the direction, production and costume design supported the actors performances and if it helped enhance the story?

  18. comic relief December 1, 2011 at 8:41 PM #

    OB,

    Since it’s getting late I’m just going to spit these out, don’t feel pressured to answer them all before nine? I’m sure I will be back to review later>

    You drew a distinction between Wendy Chuck’s work on Twilight and that of the other Costuming heads. Why was this?

    • Littlebells December 1, 2011 at 8:45 PM #

      You read my mind CR. :)

      • comic relief December 1, 2011 at 8:55 PM #

        Aspiring great minds think like you.

      • Open Book December 1, 2011 at 9:02 PM #

        I think Wendy Chuck had it easy because the director was a production designer. Plus Hardwicke had a thing for telling a story using color manipulation. These are GOLDEN little treats for costume designers. U have no idea how much freedom it gives a costume designer if a director knows how to design the lighting and set. U can see it in the results of Wendy Chucks designs.

        • comic relief December 1, 2011 at 9:09 PM #

          Was she a Costume Stylist or an actual Costume Designer?

          • Open Book December 1, 2011 at 9:29 PM #

            Well she’s calling herself a Costume Designer now. So she may have changed her affiliation with the Costume Designer guild after Twilight. This happens all the time after a stylist has gained more film credits they change. However, there’s more work for costume stylist than costume designers. Soooo! Here’s her website.

            http://wendychuck.com/

  19. comic relief December 1, 2011 at 8:43 PM #

    OB,

    Bella’s friends appeared in this movie. Was there some reason you chose to ignore them in your article?

  20. comic relief December 1, 2011 at 8:43 PM #

    OB,

    I understood why you believe Edward has received so much attention; why is it that you believe Bella’s character was so understated by comparison?

    • Littlebells December 1, 2011 at 8:48 PM #

      (I know this is for OB, but I wanted to say, imo, it’s because Edward is who most of the readers are focused on. Reader’s put themselves in Bella’s perspective viewing Edward. He is the one most are swooning over…)

      • comic relief December 1, 2011 at 8:58 PM #

        Are we back to the horny topic again… oh never mind.

        • Littlebells December 1, 2011 at 9:08 PM #

          No, no, no!!!! That’s not what I meant.

          • Open Book December 1, 2011 at 9:17 PM #

            I know what u meant LB!

            CR is being very sarcastic.

        • Open Book December 1, 2011 at 9:13 PM #

          Now, now, I don’t think it’s difficult to conclude that it’s all relative. IMO!!

          Meaning, if u combine the right elements be it acting, directing, aesthetic style details etc….and the story resonates with audiences then it was a success. In other words all that should be remaining is if audiences were moved by the story. Not how well the costume, make-up, acting or directing was individually. Case in point Social Network and King’s Speech very different time periods but effective in telling the story.

  21. Littlebells December 1, 2011 at 8:46 PM #

    OB, now I can understand your passion for the costuming of The Bronze Horseman. If you could have a hand in the costume design, 1) would you be thrilled?, 2) what would be the most important aspect of the designs overall, and 3) how do you find a starting point?

    • Open Book December 1, 2011 at 10:08 PM #

      LB!

      Sorry, I had to leave for a second.

      1st. Q Yes! I really love this series but I would not take on anything if I did not first believe in the directors vision, production design, actors involved etc….It’s a collaborative effort.

      2nd. Q: Hmm! Can u elaborate more?

      3rd. Q: I would begin with a complete character breakdown and analysis of the script and source material what most designers would do.Create a bible and figure out costume changes etc… Then begin researching. Then I do other stuff that may be a bit extreme because I’m a little detailed and curious person. LOL!!

      I have to leave for the night all. But very great Q. I will try and answer more if I can tomorrow.

      Goodnight!

  22. comic relief December 1, 2011 at 9:10 PM #

    Really great article OB.

    Sorry for all the questions, but it was a treat listening to you answer them.

    Bye, all.

    • Open Book December 1, 2011 at 9:14 PM #

      Bye CR!

      I’m still trying to answer everyone. I’m still operating without coffee, so I’m a little slow….LOL! Sorry!

    • ozzie20 December 1, 2011 at 9:24 PM #

      Bye CR!

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