We chatted with Academy Award-winning costume designer Jenny Beavan about what it was like designing the wardrobe for The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, available now on Digital and Blu-ray.What was your initial reaction when you were asked to design the costumes for the film?
Completely thrilled! It was something very different for me. I loved going to see ‘The Nutcracker’ ballet as a child so it was a strong, strong childhood memory for me. I was truly thrilled.
What inspired the overall aesthetic of your designs?
Well, Guy Hendrix, our production designer, had been on board much earlier, and he had done wonderful research and mood boards, and had lots and lots of drawings of inspiration, so I was fitting into his world, as well as thinking up new things of my own. I remember coming to certain characters from a mixture of fashion fairy tales, imagination, and just fun! Because they come from being toys or ornaments, they tend to have one look, so I was trying to make something interesting and very personal for each person. I was trying to give each character a really strong look. It was so fun.
Do you know how many variations of designs you went through?
Not many, because [our co-director] Lasse Hallström seemed to be very happy with what we were doing. With something as creative as Nutcracker, I worked by putting things on a dress stand where it’s 3D with real fabric. I found a piece of fabric that reminded me of snow and ice, although it was actually almost like cutwork and I thought, “Oh, that could work.” Then I got hold of really silvery fabric and I think that’s what really got me going. We sort of found it by experimenting.
How did the film’s color and texture play into making the costumes?
I work very instinctively. If you really know the story and you know the worlds these characters are going be inhabiting–and you’re working with a makeup designer who is doing weird and wacky and wonderful stuff–it becomes obvious what to do. But maybe that’s just because I’ve done it for so many years. I don’t overthink it.
Did you have a favorite look from the film?
I was terribly fond of Mother Ginger. I obviously adored doing Clara and Sugar Plum, but there was something about Mother Ginger. She was like the puppet that got left on top of the cupboard–forgotten, sad, but also heroic and trying to maintain right in the realms.
Thanks so much for talking with us!
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is available now on Digital and Blu-ray!