How often does it happen that a narrative is unfolded through varying objects in addition to the major characters of a story? Not much for sure. Phantom Thread, from Paul Thomas Anderson—starring Daniel Day-Lewis in the role of a marvelous, dressmaking genius Reynolds Woodcock has done it with their breathtakingly beautiful and brilliantly designed couture dresses in the movie.
Like the main lead of the movie, the dresses designed by Mark Bridges for the motion picture are a living, breathing entity and as much in character throughout the storyline as the leading and supporting cast.
RECREATING WOODCOCK DESIGNS IN PHANTOM THREAD
Phantom Thread is loosely based on British-born, infamous, couture genius Charles James. He has been known for not only the intricate finest detailing of his designs but also for the possessiveness he bears for his dresses. Recreating Woodcock designs for the movie meant re-creating or at least creating James-inspired designs for Bridges. Bridges has designed costumes for all Anderson’s movies to date but Phantom Thread was different.
“Creating dresses for this particular movie wasn’t just about playing with the fabric whenever the inspirations strikes you”, reported Bridges to a leading fashion magazine. Each costume made for this particular movie had to be a ‘speaking garment’. Something that explicitly narrates its own tale to the audience and make them fall for it. The movie’s costumes were made with the 50s fashion trends of London in mind. They re-mapped the entire fashion scenario, including the culture and clientele of the period from memory with the help of those dresses.
DANIEL DAY-LEWIS INSPIRED TO CREATE
One of the most iconic and luxurious costumes of the movie is a Burgundy Velvet Dress with Red Cape that Gina McKee slips into when she first entered the House of Woodcock for a fitting. Interestingly enough, Daniel Day-Lewis himself was inspired to create that dress. He drew a sketch of the dress for Mark Bridges, who, while incorporating the same cuts and flow came up with fabric choices of his own to execute the breathtaking dress. The dress has an iconic lace touch, rich tones and a tinge of luxury in form of velvet. It hits the historical notes of London in the 50s perfectly. It also is a brilliant way to introduce the audience to the fashion and styling philosophies of The House of Woodcock.
The second dress that caught audience’s attention from Phantom Thread has to be Alma’s Red Dress. The one she designed herself. Since throughout the movie she struggled with embroidery, Bridges and his team made sure that it reflected in the dress she had designed for herself. While the dress looked marvelous on her figurine, it wasn’t a craftsman’s masterpiece. Wanting to add a nice warm ‘homely’ feeling to it, the costume team intentionally left some loose thread and some unruly patterns. The dresses from the movie speak for themselves while telling their own magical stories.