Ask a few fashion types to name an inspirational fashion film and you’ll soon find several common denominators. Annie Hall, Funny Face and even Devil Wears Prada are all likely to crack a mention. If they’re really worth their custom Goyard however, you’ll find a few less likely names making an appearance. Early Bond films, Sophia Coppola’s Marie Antionette or High Society, perhaps.
Amongst my personal favourites is 2003’s Down With Love, so it was a special thrill to recently have the opportunity to speak with costume designer Daniel Orlandi, about his most recent release (and possibly, he confessed a new favourite), Saving Mr Banks.
Certainly, the Disney flick may not immediately strike you as the most likely of fashion films. One glance at the spectacular attention to detail taken in developing the utterly perfect wardrobes of not just the leading characters but all those around them will however, have you convinced of its sartorial virtues. The challenge, Mr Orlandi told me is that in the case of this particular film, many of the characters were in fact real people. “You have a duty to be as honest to them as possible” he told me. “Biographies, photographic evidence – so much research was involved! Luckily, Disney is fully archived and there are photographs available of PL Travers”.
So where does one begin creating an entire wardrobe from scratch? It’s always been something that has fascinated me. All that research aside and the script detail aside, Mr Orlandi reiterated his often-quoted secret – “I think the costume designer is more like a psychologist than anything! You have to really know the character and who they are”. The Epictetus quote ‘know, first, who you are, and then adorn yourself accordingly’ springs to mind.
My final question to Mr Orlandi was of course to find out how to get that je ne sais quoi polish that characters from stories set in the 1960s always have. His response was quick and firm. “Tailoring” he told me. “Get everything altered and make a little more effort to get dressed up. Have fewer clothes and spend your money making sure the fit is impeccable”.
If you’d like to see Mr Orlandi’s skill (and style) first hand, Saving Mr Banks is out now on DVD.