“Crimson Peak” by Guillermo del Toro is rightfully considered one of the most beautiful films of our time. Mesmerizing decorations, unique color schemes and stunning outfits from bygone eras captivate the viewer, plunging into the wonderful world of romantic waltzes, dark secrets and gothic castles.
While working on the images of the main characters, costume designer Kate Hawley tried to recreate as accurately as possible all the details of the clothing of that time: from the silhouettes characteristic of the beginning of the 20th century, to the accessories of the characters, such as brooches and ribbons.
The key idea when creating costumes was colors, which served as a visual language that reflects the essence of the characters, their moods, hidden intentions and thoughts, and also symbolized certain phenomena. And almost always the color scheme of the heroes’ clothes echoes the palette of places where the action takes place.
“The costumes reflect the architecture and the magical, somnambulistic atmosphere of Gothic romance. The wealth and wealth of the Buffalo characters are shown through a rich gold palette. Allerdale, old and faded, on the contrary, is saturated with blue, frozen tones ” – Kate Hawley.
Image of Edith Cushing
Edith Cushing is one of the key characters in the film, a strong and independent girl who dreams of becoming a writer. She is not like the ladies around her of that time, whose world is limited to the search for a groom. And Edith emphasizes this in every possible way, for example, with the help of a strict suit or elements like a black tie. A characteristic feature of all Edith’s costumes are the huge puff sleeves, typical of a woman’s costume of the early 20th century. However, in this case, they carry a specific message, indicating that Edith is a modern and strong girl.
However, when Baronet Thomas Sharp appears in her life, Edith literally flourishes: her clothes become more and more feminine, drawings – intricate, and colors – delicate and warm. Special symbolism in details, for example, a belt in the form of folded hands at the waist, signifies the invisible presence of Edith’s deceased mother, who continues to protect her daughter.
Almost all of Edith’s wardrobe, with the exception of the funeral dress, is made in light colors, mainly in yellow and gold.
“The fragility of Edith’s beauty is emphasized by her dresses, she embodies the golden butterfly that Lucille wants to get into her collection.” – Kate Hawley.
Getting into Allerdale Hall, Edith begins to fade away, like all living things that appear there: sunny colors give way to cold ones, and even her nightgown gradually “melts” and becomes more and more dull and thin.
Lucille Sharp’s image
Lucille is Thomas Sharpe’s sister and owner of Allerdale Hall. Unlike Edith, she wears old-fashioned dresses with high stiff collars and the same stiff corsets, she is, as it were, chained in a rigid frame. The first dress, in which the viewer sees Lucille, is blood red with frightening knots on the back, reminiscent of a protruding spine.
Later, Lucille appears in a black and dark blue dress, which personify death and withering, reigning both in the ancestral nest and in the Sharp family itself. The details in the image of this heroine are no less symbolic: a black hat in the shape of a frozen female face or large embroidery in the form of dark leaves with acorns.
Throughout the film, Lucille is contrasted with Edith and their outfits emphasize this well. So, if the light and sunny dresses of the first symbolize life, then the images of the second personify death, if Edith strives for the future, then Lady Lucille gravitates towards the past. And finally, the culmination of their confrontation at the moment when the secret of the Sharp house – the shirts of the main characters – is revealed: Edith’s innocence versus Lucille’s depravity.
The image of Thomas Sharpe
Creating the image of Thomas Sharpe, Kate Hawley, first of all, started from such dark and romantic personalities of the Victorian era as Lord Byron and Heathcliff – the character of the novel “Wuthering Heights”. One of the sources of inspiration was Kasper David Friedrich’s painting “A Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog”, which shows a handsome silhouette of a man. Thomas Sharp is a mysterious alien from England in noisy, industrial Buffalo. He is dressed out of date, as if he came out of the 19th century, but this only adds drama and attractiveness to him. However, later, thanks to a gloomy and outdated image, he, like his sister, merges with the decrepit and dark house of the Sharps.
It is easy to see that the image of Thomas practically repeats the image of Lucille: he is not only old-fashioned, but also gravitates towards cold, gloomy colors, the same that Lucille prefers.
“Crimson Peak” is not just a horror, but a real masterpiece that tells the stories of the main characters in the language of colors and symbols in their clothes. A wonderful film about love and hate, which is worth watching for everyone to fully enjoy the atmosphere of a gothic fairy tale.
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