Costume Designer Anaïs Romand: the Frock Flicks Guide

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Anaïs Romand is one of the better French costumer designers doing historical film, in my opinion. She’s won three Césars (the French Oscar) and been nominated for another. Romand got her start in art restoration, then met designers Ezio Frigerio and Franca Squarciapino and worked with them on several theatrical productions. She then worked on several films, including La Révolution Française with designer Catherine Leterrier, before working as lead designer. Let’s take a look at her historical work!

 

Du fond du coeur (1994)

I can’t find a summary of the film, but it appears to be set in the 1790s.

1994 Du fond du coeur 1994 Du fond du coeur

 

Children of the Century (1999)

The doomed romance of novelist George Sand (Juliette Binoche) and poet Alfred de Musset.

1999 Children of the Century 1999 Children of the Century 1999 Children of the Century 1999 Children of the Century

 

Les Destinées (2000)

The lives of two wealthy French Protestant families (including Emmanuelle Béart and Isabelle Huppert) intertwine from the 1890s to the 1930s.

2000 Les Destinees 2001 Les destinées2000 Les Destinees

 

Zaïna, cavalière de l’Atlas (2005)

A young girl must lead a caravan of horses in Morocco.

2005 Zaina, cavaliere de l'Atlas 2005 Zaina, cavaliere de l'Atlas

 

The Last Mistress (2007)

A man leaves his mistress (Asia Argento) to get married in 1830s France.

2007 The Last Mistress 2007 The Last Mistress The Last Mistress (2007)The Last Mistress (2007)

 

A Simple Heart (2008)

An adaptation of one of Flaubert’s Three Tales, about a nineteenth-century servant looking for love.

2008 A Simple Heart 2008 A Simple Heart

 

House of Tolerance (2011)

The lives of prostitutes at an elegant Parisian brothel at the turn of the century.

Romand’s goal was “to look for authenticity with the girls and the way they would live in their costumes… It was important to us for the story, the atmosphere of the film to be in 1900, to really feel that period, so everything was carefully chosen to get that feeling of ‘being there’… Only two dresses bought in a flea market in Paris were reworked and cut to fit… My intention was not to have all the corsets being the S bend (some are) but more to find the shape that would fit each girl’s body and character… The intention was to show the girls at work as if they were jewels in a box, displayed for the customers, in contrast with the poor and sad lives they have in the shabby rooms where they live. It is a kind of a little theatre they put together, with fake jewellery, joy, love, champagne, evening dresses. Behind the stage it’s quite another life for them, so it was interesting to show a certain opulence and luxury” (Costume Designer Anaïs Romand Discusses House of Tolerance).

2011 House of Tolerance 2011 House of Tolerance 2011 House of Tolerance

 

Saint Laurent (2014)

A biopic of famed fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent. Saint Laurent’s estate refused to let Romand use their vintage pieces, and threatened to sue if she made reproductions, because they were supporting a rival biopic. So Romand got help from a vintage collector who loaned items, and,

“‘The rest was made by me, inspired by richly documented sources… Costume design for cinema deals with image, not plain reality. It gives freedom to take short-cuts you can’t take in haute couture… I didn’t want it to look like a period film with clothes that nobody would like to wear now. I wanted the costumes to look desirable for young people” (Anaïs Romand on Designing Costumes for ‘Saint Laurent’).

2014 Saint Laurent

 

Les Anarchistes (2015)

A French soldier infiltrates a group of anarchists in 1899.

2015 Les anarchistes 2015 Les anarchistes

 

The Nun (2015)

A young woman is forced into a convent in 1760s France.

The Nun (2015)

 

Diary of a Chambermaid (2015)

A discontented servant (Léa Seydoux) in 1890s France.

“In the photo of the poster, we see Celestine’s main costume, the one in which she works. She has an elegance a little above her condition, because she comes from Paris. In this uniform, it was necessary to give both this allure and a certain rigor. The dress is made of a modern cotton, but very tightly woven, with honeycomb shaping, which was black and which I enhanced in Prussian blue dye. She seems heavy, but she is actually quite light, and lives on her body, accompanies his movements. White lace is authentic period lace. As for the apron, it is cut from a tablecloth bought at the Flea Market, starched – with starch grain that is diluted and heated, and not in a spray! – in order to give it that particular wrinkle and weight that you won’t get with a modern fabric. It gives something interesting to the image, of falling, brittle. The character of Célestine is keen to dress well: for the popular or poor classes in the 19th century, there was an honor to be ‘well dressed.’ They took care of their laundry, because it was expensive. Celestine’s clothes didn’t have to look new, some had a patina, but they needed refinement” (bad Google translate of Anaïs Romand: Créatrice de costumes).

Diary of a Chambermaid (2015) Diary of a Chambermaid (2015)Diary of a Chambermaid (2015)

 

Planetarium (2016)

Two young American sisters (one of whom is Natalie Portman) are thought to have supernatural abilities while visiting 1930s Paris.

“Most of the original couture dresses are in museums, but I managed to rent very beautiful dresses for extras… Tailor-made costumes are very important for main characters as the screen magnifies and you don’t know in advance which detail of the garment will appear. So we created almost everything but bought a few authentic dresses and accessories” (Planetarium).

2016 Planetarium2016 Planetarium 2016 Planetarium 2016 Planetarium

 

The Dancer (2016)

Per Wikipedia, “Loïe Fuller was the toast of the Folies Bergères at the turn of the 20th century and an inspiration for Toulouse-Lautrec and the Lumière Brothers. The film revolves around her complicated relationship with protégé and rival Isadora Duncan.”

2016 The Dancer 2016 The Dancer

 

Memoir of War (2017)

A woman (Mélanie Thierry) loses her husband and starts an affair during the Liberation of Paris at the end of World War II.

2017 Memoir of War 2017 Memoir of War

 

The Guardians (2017)

Women run the farm during World War I.

2017 The Guardians 2017 The Guardians 2017 The Guardians

 

To the Ends of the World (2018)

Set during the First Indochina War of 1945. With (ugh) Gérard Depardieu.

2018 To the Ends of the World

 

One Nation One King (2018)

The French Revolution and the people’s relationship with their king (Louis XVI).

A period film is not an archivist’s work. We have to find common ground: what do we want to represent from this era? Clothing conveys a lot of codes, which ones do we want to keep, which ones will we understand about a contemporary body and gestures, in a modern language? It’s all in the dosage. The costume should not become the first character either, it is necessary to avoid the decorative… It’s always very intimidating to represent the French Revolution because it’s a story that belongs to us. Then there is a financial challenge on all fronts to obtain quality and aesthetic work…. We just rented out the costumes of the aristocracy and the court, other than the leading roles of course. On the other hand, what does not exist at all for rent is the Parisian people with their fashion from the end of the 18th century, a little coquetry specific to the capital” (bad Google translate of Anaïs Romand, le cinéma au fil du temps).

2018 One Nation One King 2018 One Nation One King 2018 One Nation One King

 

De Gaulle (2020)

A biopic of French leader Charles de Gaulle.

2020 De Gaulle 2020 De Gaulle

 

Paris Police 1900 (2021)

A police inspector stumbles into state secrets in 1899 Paris.

2021 Paris Police 1900 2021 Paris Police 1900 2021 Paris Police 1900 2021 Paris Police 1900

Which of Anaïs Romand’s frock flicks do you love?

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About the author

Kendra

Website

Kendra has been a fixture in the online costuming world since the late 1990s. Her website, Démodé Couture, is one of the most well-known online resources for historical costumers. In the summer of 2014, she published a book on 18th-century wig and hair styling. Kendra is a librarian at a university, specializing in history and fashion. She’s also an academic, with several articles on fashion history published in research journals.

7 Responses

  1. Damnitz

    Very different films. It’s exciting to compare all the works of such an artist although I know from my own experience how little power such persons and advisers have if the producer or director just doesn’t like the idea of authentic costumes… By the way these are a lot of very nice photos.

    Reply
    • Lily Lotus Rose

      Yeah, Grace, I was going to comment on oh-so yummy Ulliel. Kendra cringed at the sight of Gerard Depardieu in To the Ends of the World but didn’t acknowledge the (perhaps much more pleasing) aspect of Ulliel! :)

      Memoir of War looks JUST LIKE one of Theirry’s other films, For A Woman. The book upon which Memoir of War is based is just so painful because it’s true. I don’t know if I’ll be able to get through the movie because Mauguerite Duras’s book, which I did not read under the title Memoir of War still haunts me. Why do we usually get such crap translations in English of foreign movie titles (and bad English-language movie posters, too)?!?! But I digress…for as much as I love French film, I haven’t seen any of these even though they are chock-full of actors whom I admire. Thanks for this post. ALL of these costumes look beautiful and well-made!

      Reply
      • M.E. Lawrence

        Agreed. I wonder why we haven’t seen more of these movies over here in the States?

        Reply
  2. Julia R

    Of these I have only seen The Last Mistress, but I adore that movie. Everything about that movie is so beautiful, but all of these look amazing.

    Reply
  3. Jesuswasbatman

    Paris Police 1999 was just shown on TV in Britain, and it’s very good but extremely dark – it definitely isn’t a cosy nostalgic cop show, but goes deep into the corruption, political extremism, street violence and extreme anti-Semitism of 1900-ish France. (It’s actually set in 1899, at a point when the Dreyfus Affair brought the country close to civil war between far-right-wingers and democrats.)

    Reply

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