Costume Designer Janty Yates: the Frock Flicks Guide


Shockingly, I think I’ve seen every historical film designed by Janty Yates except her very first! She’s an Oscar winner (for Gladiator) and longtime collaborator with director Ridley Scott. Let’s take a look at her many frock flicks:


The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain (1995)

The only one I haven’t seen! Set in 1917 and starring Hugh Grant and Tara Fitzgerald… and that’s all I really know.

1994 The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain 1994 The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain 1995


Jude (1996)

A sob-worthy adaptation of an 1880s-set story by Thomas Hardy, starring Kate Winslet and Christopher Eccleston. STUNNING lower-class natural form dresses on Winslet.

1996 Jude 1996 Jude
1996 Jude

© Gramercy Pictures


Plunkett & Macleane (1999)

This film about mid-18th century highwaymen is a sad attempt at being modern and cheeky, but the costumes are funny/bad!

Plunkett And Macleane Plunkett & Macleane (1999) Plunkett & Macleane (1999) Plunkett & Macleane (1999)


Gladiator (2000)

Yates won as Oscar for best costume design for this film about Roman gladiators.

“The lavish costumes designed by Janty Yates — body armor for men, body jewelry for women, body fur for everyone — take their cues from the work of the English painter Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema. The result is ‘a Roman look with pre-Raphaelite overtones,’ Ms. Yates said… As for the men, the designer eschewed the embarrassingly short lengths that resulted in so many bare legs in ‘Spartacus’ and ‘Ben Hur’ during the last great round of toga movies. ‘We made sure the men’s tunics were more like Scottish kilts — more funky and macho'” (Colosseum Couture).

2000 Gladiator 2000 Gladiator 2000 Gladiator
2000 Gladiator



Enemy at the Gates (2001)

The Battle of Stalingrad during World War II. Not the least bit shiny, but a good film!

2001-Enemy-at-the-Gates 2001 Enemy at the Gates


Charlotte Gray (2001)

Cate Blanchett is an English spy in occupied France during World War II, and manages to look chic while she does it.

2001 Charlotte Gray 2001 Charlotte Gray


De-Lovely (2004)

A biopic about songwriter Cole Porter and his wife, set in the 1930s.

“‘The clothes Giorgio [Armani] and Janty designed for Cole Porter evoked his style, wit, sophistication and love of beauty,’ says [lead actor Kevin] Kline. ‘Putting on these clothes took me leaps and bounds closer to understanding and embodying the man than months of research ever could'” (Elizabeth Snead, Los Angeles Daily News, June 4, 2004).

Kevin Klein, De-Lovely (2004) 2004 De-Lovely De-Lovely (2004) 2004 De-Lovely


Kingdom of Heaven (2005)

Crusaders gotta crusade, apparently.

“For costumes, Janty Yates who worked with Scott on Gladiator, trawled museums including the British Museum, the Leeds Armoury and the Salle de Crusades in Versailles where she found [Orlando Bloom:] ‘Balian’s 1180 crest. The crest of Ibelin was burgundy and gold and we translated that into burgundy and sand for the Ibelin livery. The Army of Jerusalem is entirely in cornflower blue so the king also wears cornflower blue with gold'” (Of Knights and Chargers, Hindu, May 6, 2005).

“In tune with this summer’s trend for all things ethnic, costume designer Janty Yates used silks from India, embroidered with jewels and pearls, to create Princess Sybilla’s stunning cloaks, veils and turbans” (Unzipped: Costume Extravaganza).

2005 Kingdom of Heaven Jeremy Irons, Kingdom of Heaven (2005) 2005 Kingdom of Heaven 2005 Kingdom of Heaven 2005 Kingdom of Heaven


Robin Hood (2010)

Yet another gritty take on the Hood. With Cate Blanchett as Marian.

“Costume designer Janty Yates… had to lay her hands on 25,000 different pieces of costume for the film. Some of the clothes, boots and helmets came from Ridley’s film Kingdom of Heaven, while she commissioned the special effects company behind Lord Of The Rings to make 300 sets of chainmail. ‘They’re made from plastic so they’re very light,’ she reveals. ‘That’s good for the actors but they look wonderful and are very tough.’ The knights’ helmets look like they’re made of steel but are in fact moulded from the rubber used to make car bumpers. Multiple copies of each costume have to be made and then ‘distressed’ to make them look worn” (How Robin Hood moved Nottingham to inside the M25).

2010 Robin Hood 2010 robin hood 2010 Robin Hood 2010 Robin Hood 2010 Robin Hood
2010 Robin Hood

(C) imago/EntertainmentPictures


Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)

The biblical story of Moses, set in ancient Egypt.

“‘All the Egyptians [in the film] wear lamellar armor, which has this petal-shaped metal that’s even more elaborate than chain mail. And because Moses was a top general, his is a little more ornate because he had the wherewithal to have the court craftsmen craft this beautiful cuirass, which is the breastplate, and do some wonderful engraving on it'” (For ‘Exodus,’ Janty Yates dresses Moses, Ramses).

2014 Exodus- Gods and Kings 2014 Exodus- Gods and Kings 2014 Exodus- Gods and Kings 2014 Exodus- Gods and King 2014 Exodus- Gods and King 2014 Exodus- Gods and Kings


The Last Duel (2021)

Based on a true story, three takes on a rape that happened in medieval France and the aftermath.

“For inspiration, she [Yates] looked to a medieval style of Italian armor that’s on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art…. ‘You have to make sure every joint is perfect and knees can bend without worrying about it and elbows can bend without worrying about it and helmets don’t go crashing onto the back shoulder” … For Jodie Comer’s noblewoman, Marguerite, Yates wanted to showcase a subtle evolution throughout the film. Her costumes, although often ornate and highly detailed with layers of fabric and embroidery, reflected the character’s willingness to connect with the commoners — as well as Scott’s preference. ‘Ridley loved the linen look, and he’d say, “Oh, isn’t she in linen today?” Yates laughs. ‘We were trying to keep that for [scenes] around the estate, when she was helping the villagers and helping the serfs and all of that. We did put her in linen a bit more than we had intended'” (Emily Zemler, “Ready for Battle in Any Era,” Los Angeles Times, Jan. 25, 2022)

2022 The Last Duel 2022 The Last Duel 2022 The Last Duel 2022 The Last Duel
2022 The Last Duel

© 2021 20th Century Studios


Coming Soon: Kitbag aka Napoleon

Ridley Scott will be directing Joaquin Phoenix in a Napoleon biopic.

Kitbag Napoleon Kitbag Napoleon

What’s your favorite of Janty Yates’s many frock flicks costume designs?

12 Responses

  1. Alexander

    A happy New Year to you and all the fabulous Frock Flicks team! I actually quite enjoyed The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain. It is sort of a perfect piece of fluff for a rainy Sunday afternoon – also I did part of my studies in wales and the landscapes are always evocative for me. Jude is a wrenching film and I remember finding it hard to watch (and even harder to read, though I do love Hardy in general) but I do remember the costumes, especially the dresses, as being solid and strong for the period and their class. Plunkett & Macleane always makes me giggle as it just hits me as such a confusing car-crash. Why? I just didn’t get the design and was at a loss to what exactly they were trying to convey with the costume and hair. I do think Charlotte Gray was well designed and fabulous to look at (I adore some of the hats in particular) even if the film seems to lose complete steam mid way through.

  2. Boxermom

    For me, it’s a toss-up between Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven, which also happen to be two of my favorite Ridley Scott movies.Coincidence? Probably not. :)

  3. Lily Lotus Rose

    I think I’ve seen about half of these films. Costume-wise, Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven are my favorites. As a film, Enemy at the Gates is one of the best WWII movies I’ve ever seen. And The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill… is delightful, from what I remember. Also, I think I’m one of ten people on planet earth who liked the Ridley Scott version of Robin Hood. (I can’t really defend its merits; I can only say that I liked it.)

    • Mary

      I also liked Ridley Scotts Robin Hood, but not as much as I like Prince Of Thieves which, for all the cheesiness is hella entertaining :D
      I reallylove the costumes for both Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven, even though I know they’re inaccurate. They are pretty to look at.

    • SarahV

      Listen, I know now and I knew then, that the costumes in Gladiator, while fabulous, were barely accurate. HOWEVER – the gorgeous costumes in that movie are partially responsible for one of my most treasured movie-going experiences ever.

      I saw Gladiator at a midnight showing in Union Square when it first came out, and the theater was packed with… um, eager, enthusiastic, and shall we say … overserved gay men (no doubt drawn by the huntastic-ness of prime Russell Crowe and the general Romanic fabulousness of the design). Every time Connie Nielsen’s Drusilla came on screen in her thrilling series of (wildly inaccurate) gowns and shawls and diadems there were audible gasps, accompanied by light applause and murmurs of favorable commentary. It was building to a crescendo.

      And then… At some point when Drusilla’s position at the emperor’s court is quite low, and she’s distressed and overwrought over concern for her son, she shows up on screen… in (horror) a the same outfit as a previous scene. The guy behind me just said, out loud, in a acidic, precise southern drawl “Oh honey, we’ve seen that.”

      The entire house shook with laughter and applause and joy. Not a day doesn’t go by that I do not think of that night.

      • Lily Lotus Rose

        Thanks for sharing this memory!! It is wonderful! I miss those days of collective joy in a movie theater! (And I also miss Russell Crowe in a tunic!)

  4. kt

    I haven’t seen it, but Ashley Judd looks absolutely gorgeous in that dress from De Lovely.

  5. Al Don

    Quite the résumé. I thought The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain was a charming film. Random find I happened to catch on tv one night.

    As for her work with Ridley Scott… I think this is largely his doing, but yes, it gets progressively less and less authentic. The Last Duel was a visual shitshow that wasn’t even in the realm of correct, from the clothing, architecture, and ridiculous armour. The other Medieval work is slightly better, though still wrong.

    And funny she mentions the Pre-Raphaelites. I definitely think Ridley Scott is the last Pre-Raphaelite. I love the genuine Pre-Raphaelites’ work; Scott’s pastiche of it is less effective.

    His Napoléon biopic doesn’t look like it’s off to a great start – especially with young Bonaparte’s hat. Keep expectations low, I suppose.

  6. Damnitz

    The movies I know of this list have not good costumes. But all of them except “Plunkett & Maclean” are made by Ridley Scott, who has his own style of costumes in all movies (except “The duellists”). Therefor maybe it’s not her fault. The “Napoleon”-film is looking very poor too with a far too old “young” Géneral Bonaparte in a semi-historical uniform (the cocade obviously is wrong for the period and where are the buttons on the cuffs?)… OK, if I have to choose I would choose “Exodus” because it’s looking more interesting then the other attempts…

    • Al Don

      “…are made by Ridley Scott, who has his own style of costumes in all movies (except “The duellists”). Therefor maybe it’s not her fault.”

      Indeed. The Duellists is easily Ridley Scott’s most authentic work (when compared to his other movies). I think in large part it’s because he had so little leeway. Because of his lack of budget, he was at the mercy of other movies and real life resources. Some years ago one of the extras testified that they were wearing moldy uniforms from the 1956 War and Peace. And because of little money for sets, Scott had to use extant buildings. There’s one interesting exception, though.

      That said, it’s not as authentic as people may suppose. The uniforms for the first third of the movie are just… wrong. This is likely due to budget. (That’s to say nothing of language and its use which is a different story.)

      It’s telling that as soon as Ridley Scott has a bigger budget and CGI, he starts to get things wildly wrong. He’s just not interested in authenticity.


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