CQ speaks to Cheri costume designer, Consolata Boyle
Chéri, the Michelle Pfeiffer film based on a novel by French author Colette comes out today, it tells the tale of Léa, a retired courtesan who falls for the youthful charms of Chéri, her old rival's son played by Keira Knightley squeeze Rupert Friend. We spoke to the Consolata Boyle, the film's designer who filled us in on the behind-the-scenes fashion business...
Does the original Colette text provide enough of a feel for the costumes or did you have to fill in the gaps yourself?
Because Colette was at the centre of French cultural and artistic like, it could only be full of inspiration. Colette's life was centred around a bohemian circle of fashion designers, painters, and musicians. Similarly the text is packed with visual ideas, but as a costume designer I must bring my own passions and fascinations to this.
Which designers of the time would have been a big influence during the period the film is set in, and what trends were popular?
The Haute Couture system was in its infancy, the big designers of the time would have been Chanel, Paul Poiret, Madeleine Vionnet and the Callot Sisters. In Paris at the time of the Belle Epoque was a very luxurious period but it would end with the First World War. At the time there was a fascination with all things oriental, such as chinoiserie. The Ballets Russes performed for the first time in Paris and their mixture of opera and art inspired art, design and fashion.
Can you explain to us a little about your role as costume designer and tell us which films you've worked on in the past?
The costume designer's role is to interpret the development and nuances of character through the clothes they wear. This requires detailed research and close collaboration with the director. I've worked on The Queen where I dressed Helen Mirren, as well as Angela's Ashes & The Van to name but a few.
Did any museums assist you in the research/pulling together of the wardrobe?
I had help from the Louvre, the Musée D'Orsay, the Musée de la Mode at du Costume and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs.
What was Michelle Pfeiffer like to dress?
Michelle was a joy to work with and a true professional, it also helped that she has a great figure for all the costumes!