Costume Designer Massimo Cantini Parrini: The Frock Flicks Guide


Recently, I was privileged to interview Italian costume designer Massimo Cantini regarding his newest film, Cyrano (2021), and I can legitimately say he is a delightful interview subject! English-speaking audiences no doubt first became acquainted with his remarkable work in the gorgeous Tale of Tales (2015), and since then he’s added Ophelia (2018) and Pinocchio (2019) to his list of mainstream frock flicks to find success, but he’s designed for quite a number of period films in the Italian cinema that are worth showcasing. Upcoming films that have yet to be released include a film about St. Claire of Assisi and a biopic of Enzo Ferrari, which look interesting.


Barbarossa: Sword of War (2009)

This English-language film is about Alberto da Giussano, the Milanese nobleman who sets out to defeat Barbarossa, and the formation of the Liga Lombarda. There aren’t a lot of photos from the movie out there on the internet, but the scant few I was able to find show a pretty lavishly costumed period piece. I’m definitely intrigued!


Day of the Siege (2012)

Another film that has completely piqued my interest now that I’ve started searching out photos of it. It’s set in 1683 and focuses on the Ottoman Empire’s siege of Vienna. The costumes showcase the Polish noblemen who led the defence of the city, as well as the Turkish warriors invading it.


How Strange to Be Named Federico (2013)

A biopic about Federico Fellini, and I have a lot of questions.


Mister Ignis (2013-2014)

An Italian language miniseries about Giovanni Borghi, founder of the Italian company Ignis which produced electric stoves and ranges, set during World War II.


Tale of Tales (2015)

This was the first film that made me aware of Massimo’s work, and it probably remains his best known to date. A dark fairytale with a fantasy twist on late-16th and early-17th century historical costumes.

Tale of Tales (2015) Tale of Tales (2015) Tale of Tales (2015)


Leonardo da Vinci: The Genius in Milan (2016)

A docudrama about Leonardo da Vinci, as you probably could guess. Some of the costumes are recycled, some appear to be original, but the styling of everything is gorgeous.


Ophelia (2018)

This film is just absurdly beautiful. It’s a retelling of Shakespeare’s Hamlet from Ophelia’s point of view.

Ophelia (2018) Ophelia (2018) Ophelia (2018)


Pinocchio (2019)

I remember this film getting quite a bit of press when it came out, and I can see why. The costumes manage to strike a pleasing balance between whimsical and slightly nightmarish.


Miss Marx (2020)



Christmas at the Cupiello’s (2020)


Cyrano (2021)


We look forward to seeing more of Massimo Cantini Parrini’s work on the big screen! Do you have a favorite historical film he designed the costumes for? Share it with us in the comments!

6 Responses

  1. Aleko

    That’s a pretty good Habsburg jaw there. Props to the prosthetic makeup team!

  2. Michael McQuown

    I’ve seen Siege and Ophelia and thought them quite good. Hope to see Tale of Tales soon.

  3. hsc

    “A biopic about Federico Fellini, and I have a lot of questions.”

    I don’t know if this is one of those questions, but that photo seems to be a pretty solid recreation of Fellini’s first film as a director (actually co-directing with Alberto Lattuada), VARIETY LIGHTS (Luci del varietà, 1951), about “a traveling troupe of third-rate vaudevillians.”

    I haven’t been able to see more than a single trailer and a few stills for HOW STRANGE TO BE NAMED FEDERICO, but it appears to combine actual Fellini film clips with scripted scenes and recreations, so I’m not sure just how much Massimo Cantini Parrini got to do– but what appears to be his work in that trailer looks good.

    And his work in the other films you post here is gorgeous!

  4. susan l eiffert

    So many of the films you post send me scurrying for more info! I have quite a to-see list thanks to you. I wonder if any of you thought that Selma Hayek on the battlement reminded you of Tosca preparing to throw herself off the parapet?! She’s perfect there.

  5. Lily Lotus Rose

    Can Salma Hayek sing? Now I have to see her in a version of Tosca! Back to the costume designer, ALL of the pictures that you showed look absolutely gorgeous. I’m so looking forward to reading your interview with him!

  6. Karen K.

    I’ve only seen Cyrano and the costumes were by far the best thing about this movie. I’m very intrigued by all the others and didn’t even make it to the end of the post before I started searching for them! Already requested Tale of Tales which my library has on DVD, and Ophelia is streaming on Netflix. Thank you!