“The Phantom Thread”

January 5th, 2018

Anna Wyckoff

For Mark Bridges, Costume Designing The Phantom Thread, a film about a 1950s British couturier, meant creating not only the cast of characters but also the look of the fictitious House of Woodcock, including an entire spring collection from toiles to gowns. Following Bridges’ research on the London scene of the period, he determined where the fashion house and its inhabitants might fit in. He carefully considered the British sensibility in designers of the time like Michael Sherard and John Cavanagh, creating the look of the house which was rooted in rich colors and fabrics, native wools, and heavy laces with as few seams as possible in true couture fashion.

“With Cyril Woodcock (Lesley Manville) we discovered the head of a fashion house traditionally wore a navy dress and pearls and we thought that was a strong image,” says Bridges. Alma (Vicky Krieps) wears bright, bold colors as she transforms from fisherman’s daughter and waitress, to lover and muse. Throughout her metamorphosis, Bridges maintained her sense of personal style. He explains, “I think it speaks about her going headlong into this relationship eyes wide open and taking control of it. He transforms her, she transforms the clothes, there’s a little bit of magic there.

Shopping for menswear with Daniel Day-Lewis is an idea that figures prominently in the minds of most people when they think of Costume Design. Though the reality is actually quite different, there are moments when reality and fantasy meet. “Daniel had a hand in creating his costumes because he knows the Savile Row world well. As an actor, his character development requires a lot of external as well as internal work, so he wanted to have some pieces made at Anderson and Sheppard. He and I picked fabrics together but my choices were always trying to be specific to the time and place.”

“People ask me, ‘Was it daunting?’ Maybe a little bit,” Bridges chuckles. “But you just approach it like you approach every project. You research and rely on your amazing staff. I was lucky enough to have a lot of support. Through the collaborative process, a movie reveals itself with every decision you make.” Fortunately for Bridges, after working with director Paul Anderson eight times, he knows to expect the unexpected. “You never know what you’re going to get from Paul. One time we’re doing oil barons in Texas, then we’re doing a film about porn in the valley, next we’re doing hippies, and now we’re doing British couture.”

The Phantom Thread by Focus Features is in theatres now.

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