This is the first project of three which I will be sharing, I envision this tale to be told within a feature film as I feel this medium easily captures the entire atmosphere of a story like this one.. The fantastical large scale sets and designs mean this is an ideal way to present my concepts to a wider audience, especially as I feel the story is would benefit a lot of people as the underpinned morals are valuable and empowering.
The story of P'eau Dane recognisable today, was written by Charles Perrault and published in 1695.
The themes evident in the plot are darker than most modern versions of fairytales and this is one of the main reasons I was attracted to the story. My understanding of the origin and purpose of storytelling and fairytales was to teach children within earlier centuries the hardships of life and morality, a tool used as a warning and a guide
The following link is a transcript of the story in it's entirety.
The main point within the plot which captivated me enough to use the story as a project, was the fact the princess takes it upon herself to run away from her past and the monarchy she came to represent, and start over, becoming self sustained and re-establishing her presence within the world in a way she wanted to be seen.
Additional Background Research to the Story
The problem with following a simple story like this is the character's don't have very much depth at this point. Though I found this book..
This gave me an understanding of the common roles within fairytales used to structure a vast amount of stories from a similar period;
- The Villain
- The Donar
- The Helper
- The Princess
- The Dispatcher
- The Hero
- The False Hero
From these roles I found it easier to give a purpose to each character and understand the core of their intended viewpoint/intent. I find it most interesting that within this story, the princess becomes the hero, where-as in this context, the princess is used as the 'sought-for person.' This indicates a deviation from the norm providing sense of progression of the era through fairytale.
Through further research of the story I found another book which gave me an incredibly in depth understanding of each characters persona. The book can only be explained as a modern re-telling of the story, as the action within the story is changed at some points, but the main aspects are still prominent factors within the text. The themes are a lot stronger and a lot darker than the original covering difficult subjects of incest and miscarriage, each section is explained in detail describing her exact thoughts and feelings throughout the story. It also gives you an understanding of how each character directly effects her and reasoning for their actions from their viewpoint.
As I envision the story as a film, though I felt the themes within this version were too strong to use. Instead, I decided to merge the two stories so the characters were more defined and I could achieve in showing the final piece to the desired audience, which ideally would be young adolescents upwards. I feel this story promotes self-discovery and value which is an important factor at this age to relate to. I also feel this beings the story back to its original purpose, as a form of education. It also allows me to imply certain aspects, without directly focussing on them.
I then began work on my own synopsis of the story, which as stated above, merges the two previous versions together, along with my own ideas surrounding its aesthetic.
The new integration of the stories gives purpose to each characters actions, therefore allowing the reader to imagine a more 3D character. The key information I have included and altered brings a more realistic and enticing perspective to the feature.
An extract from the synopsis;
" After ten years of mourning this un-kept state became evident throughout the palace. It’s occupants, except the king who continued to mourn, came to realise the loss of the kingdom and its prowess. Only the king, several courtiers, the servants and P’eau Dane were left. The previous generations had moved on or deceased. Instead of facing their recession, they distracted themselves with partying their nights away, and using a vast remainder of colourful fabrics to create elaborate attire as a result of wearing black for so long. Ultimately they were fooling themselves that the glory of the kingdom had remained, just as magnificent as it had been."
I feel this gives an insight into the state of the kingdom, and how the Queens death affected those who lived there. It also gives an insight into the costume choices and the purpose behind them. I'd like to create a sense of time passed and a generation living with stagnant outdated values/beleifs, I think this will be best achieved by breaking down the costumes, adding a dusty/warn look, and holes within the fabric, as though its been left to decay over the years. This reflects their physical and mental state.
The period I've chosen to loosely base my design on is 1760, as the exaggerated shape and regal association to the garments give the characters a pompous, almost ridiculous appearance. I'd like to think in the kingdoms payday, the Queen dressed elegantly which gave her a distinguished presence. The courtiers who later attempted to imitate this look, took it to extremes, almost making a mockery of her image.
I created a mood board of images which gave me a better understanding of the cut/construction of the period.
Once I felt I'd gathered enough information about the period, along with book research compiled into a folder, I then created another board of Haute Couture inspirational images which I could incorporate into the design. As modern fashion designers over-dramatize their concepts in order to give the key aspects to the audience, It gave me a wide range of shapes and cuts to choose from when designing for the characters for this part of the story. Here's what I collected..
I found that a lot of designers had used this period already within their shows which made me feel secure that I'd chosen a period which is relatable and gives the right image for the kingdom which I'd like too present. These images especially..
These dresses give me an understanding of the shapes I can create with this style and the extremes that have already been pushed. This goes not only for the attire but the make-up and accessories used. This will make me push myself to find new ways of re-creating this style, and hopefully work it in a way which is a fresh interpretation.
I then began to create initial images for each character, I started with P'eau Dane. These images illustrate her characters development and her style in general..
From right to left this shows my vision of the characters development.. innocence, to oppression, then finally she becomes self assured and most importantly liberated.
During this process I found the design specifics I'd like to apply to the visuals of the feature. This will not be your average disney production with all rough edges removed. I'd like to introduce a more rugged style to the fairytale, as the stories were originally told, this also reflects the grittier issues the story tackles.
With this in mind, stylistically the following will be considered.
These points will be used to illustrate the state of the kingdom at the point when it re-awakens after a ten year mourning period and the castle and its inhabitants are in a state of neglect.
- Hair and Wigs - These will be dressed LONG.. dreadlocks, french plaits, beads and ribbons will be incorporated. Dreadlocks represent the neglect and decay of their home, and themselves. The french plaits I feel are what the inhabitants did to pass the time while mourning and became more and more intricate as the years went on. They would also decorate it with beads and ribbon to give life to otherwise un-cared for hair.
- Henna may be used as decoration, as another way in which they would pass time by painting art onto themselves.
- Intricate jewellery will be worn in order to adorn themselves further, these may have been taken from the Queens supply or simply gathered through wealth they have left over, collecting these artefacts once they re-awakened.
Another board was created during the start of this development period, these themes started to feed through into the images which inspired this change of direction.
There is one designer in particular who has heavily influences my design of this part of the story, or one collection at least. These images are taken from Jean Paul Gaultier's haute couture show in 2007. Everything about them motivates me!
The headdresses and make-up work perfectly with the attributes I'd like to incorporate into my design.. Hopefully, from this, an understanding of my vision can be grasped. Of the attire and look at least. The general aesthetic of the production will be explained in due time..
This half of the story will be set within the palace of Versailles, I chose this as the palace is tied strongly with this style of clothing and as the fairytale was written by a French author it makes sense to set it there. The rococo and baroque decor and architecture of the palace are my main attractions to this setting. This image is the most like how I imagine the palace of Peau D'ane..
It's gloomy, dark look makes the production come alive to me, I imagine Peau D'ane roaming these halls alone, cold looking space creates a sense of desertion and seclusion. Additionally, the high and extravagantly decorated interior creates an incredibly intimidating atmosphere, as though she cannot escape the power of her status and role within the palace. In reality, this space would be well lit and welcoming, but I'd like all the shots within this setting captured with this tint as I feel it gives the image an intensity which can only be achieved this way.
However. The style of painting within the palace is of the rococo period, and the art style I associate most with this story is baroque. Baroque was usually commissioned by wealthy aristocrats who used the dramatic style to impress visitors. It uses the extremes in contrast between light and dark to create powerful and impressive pieces of artwork. Additionally, within sculpture and art within this style, the human figure is usually distorted into angular and positions during movement. Almost as if the characters are being contorted. Much like the state of the occupants of the palace.
The contrast between light and dark is another strong theme within the production, as she transitions from one setting to another, and as she finds independence. For this reason the style is incredibly important to the film.
Rococo on the other hand uses a lighter colour pallet and depicts people resting and relaxation. This style art artwork would better suit the world she finds after she retreats the palace. So I will take this into consideration when designing for that part of the production.
One painting I feel which captures both colour palettes, and the extremes in colour changes and contrast is Michelangelo's painting within the Sistine chapel. Though a baroque painting, it gives a good difference in colour palette between lighter and darker colours. This painting is going to define my entire costume design and the colour palette within it.
I feel this painting is particularly good as theres such a broad spectrum of colours and shades, all the shades and tones of each colour are subdued and aren't harsh on the eyes so they maintain a regal and complimentary colour choice, though the colours maintain a powerful impact as the depth is enough to draw you in. Another point which makes this painting perfect for this use, is that it was painted so long ago that the painting itself is decaying, much like the palace of Peau D'ane, a lighter colour palette will become more evident over the years. This in itself reflects the two kingdoms, as the darker kingdom she comes from slowly decays, the lighter prosperous kingdom she retreats to becomes more powerful and influential.
This company's colour palette of paint closely resembles the colours of the painting, so I will be using this choice for my designs of all the costumes.
This research applies to one of two kingdoms which are incorporated into the story. The first is Peau D'ane's kingdom, this will be designed around 1760 attire of French royalty and court members and reflect the height of this period. Though the costumes are extravagant, the only character who reflects the beauty of this style will be the Queen, as within the story, after her death, the rest of the kingdom goes into ruin. It begins to deteriorate through lack of maintenance from it's occupants while their in mourning. Because of this, the Queens costume will be the only one which shows the elegance and represents the kingdom in its golden age.
The rest of the characters will be designed during the and after the mourning period. The king will be portrayed as a shell of what he once was and be weighed down by his attire and the responsibility of losing the kingdom under his rule. The courtiers will keep to their responsibilities by day catering for Peau D'ane, but by night over-dress to compensate their loss and to act as a distraction from facing the situation. For this reason their attire will be incredibly decorative and have copious layers will be used in order to use the masses of extra fabric available to use within the kingdom.
Peau D'ane will be dressed by her father in an attempt to persuade her into accepting his proposal. Four garments will be made, but as he took no notice of her until this point, he doesn't know of what her taste and style choices would be, so everything she wears will be chosen by him, this reflects what she is to him, simply used for her beauty as an object of his desire. Three dresses will be made this way, one of the sky, moon and sun. The third garment she requests is the skin of a donkey which provides the wealth for the kingdom.
The second kingdom is one Peau D'ane stumbles upon once she's run away from her home, here she meets the royals who care for the land and set the standard for living. Here the costumes represent 1805-1830 attire and the lifestyle choices that came with this period. The idea of enjoying life and living simply. This ideology came as a reaction to the height of the period which came before, the period of the previous kingdom. Here they take self improvement and self sustainability as the key priority for their people. The characters have a very grecian look about them and although their clothes are adorned, their status isn't made glaringly obvious, they refuse to wear crowns to show their status but have smaller symbols which present their position.
The designer which has been most influential when designing the characters of this setting is Christian Lacroix..