Stephen Vaughan / 20th Century

“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”

June 29, 2012

Before a single thread was sewn, Costume Designers Carlo Poggioli and Varya Avdyushko spent weeks studying paintings and conducting research for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, a fantasy horror film based on the book of the same name. The story spans a 45 year period (approximately 1820-1865), and reveals America’s 16th president as a leader-come-moonlighting vampire hunter.

In taking a detailed approach to historical accuracy and authenticity, changes in periods, geographical location and fashion over the years, the pair discovered that there were very few portraits painted of either Abraham Lincoln or his wife, Mary Todd, in their younger years. Poggioli and Avdyushko set to work translating the 19th century style, working with illustrators and pulling from costume houses in England, Italy and America to create hundreds of historical pieces from scratch. They ended up with a warehouse filled with more than 8,000 costumes, including custom-made gowns, gloves, shoes, suits, coats, Italian hand crafted hats and replicas of Mary’s jewelry that were found in museums.

“I believe that the countless hours of research were necessary to get each costume just right,” said Avdyushko.

Both Poggioli and Avdyushko referred to Lincoln’s “superstar costume,” in which he transitions from the moral politician into the ax-slaying vampire hunter, as the most challenging. Finding the perfect “fighting coat” for Lincoln (played by 6-Foot-4 actor Benjamin Walker) was a laboring task. As Poggioli explains, “There were so many elements to consider. We needed to find the right color so he didn’t disappear or blend too much with the other characters; the proper weight and shape so that it would translate as heavy and strong but also allow for movement; and the garment needed to fit so as to be able to conceal his weaponry.” After many camera tests, they decided to create the coat themselves by combining modern fabric and oil skin, dying it to just the right shade of green, aging it and using a special thread throughout the material to give the coat a more subtle shine.


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