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.
Children of the Century (1999)
The doomed romance of novelist George Sand (Juliette Binoche) and poet Alfred de Musset.
Les Destinées (2000)
The lives of two wealthy French Protestant families (including Emmanuelle Béart and Isabelle Huppert) intertwine from the 1890s to the 1930s.
Zaïna, cavalière de l’Atlas (2005)
A young girl must lead a caravan of horses in Morocco.
The Last Mistress (2007)
A man leaves his mistress (Asia Argento) to get married in 1830s France.
A Simple Heart (2008)
An adaptation of one of Flaubert’s Three Tales, about a nineteenth-century servant looking for love.
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).
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’).
Les Anarchistes (2015)
A French soldier infiltrates a group of anarchists in 1899.
The Nun (2015)
A young woman is forced into a convent in 1760s France.
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).
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).
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.”
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.
The Guardians (2017)
Women run the farm during World War I.
To the Ends of the World (2018)
Set during the First Indochina War of 1945. With (ugh) Gérard Depardieu.
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).
De Gaulle (2020)
A biopic of French leader Charles de Gaulle.
Paris Police 1900 (2021)
A police inspector stumbles into state secrets in 1899 Paris.
Which of Anaïs Romand’s frock flicks do you love?