Exclusive Interview With 'Oz: The Great And Powerful' Costume Designer Gary Jones

28 February 2013 by

London is getting a big injection of glamour tonight as three of Hollywood’s hottest actresses descend in Leicester Square for the premiere of Oz: The Great And The Powerful. Rachel Weisz, Mila Kunis and Michelle Williams all star in Disney’s huge new film – a prequel to the classic Wizard of Oz.

Dorothy’s checked pinafore and red shoes in the original film provided one of the most iconic film looks ever – so there’s just a little bit of pressure on the clothes to wow in the new film. But from what Grazia has seen, we won't be disappointed. Especially if the shoes - designed exclusively by Nicholas Kirkwood - are anything to go by.

The man tasked with the job was verteran costume designer Gary Jones, who won an Oscar for his work on The Talented Mr Ripley. Here he speaks exclusively to Grazia Daily about landing his dream job.

Grazia Daily: Were you excited to get the job?

Gary: I was so excited. I was just so happy to be asked. Every minute of it was as much of an adventure and as much fun as I had hoped. I grew up with the original film.

Grazia Daily: What research did you do to prepare for the movie?

Gary: There are only a couple of characters that are in this movie that existed in a big way in the original so I tried to take a fresh look. The time period that we wanted to capture was basically at the turn of the century, from 1890, so we started looking there first. We also looked at the Midwest of the United States at the time and the kind of clothes that were there. That was our beginning preparation – and then we got into colours and the different characters and what they represented.

Grazia Daily: How authentic were the costumes to the time when it was set?

Gary: We accentuated the shapes so they would be recognisable but they are not museum replicas. And then when we eventually arrive in Oz and the other land they travel to – you will see that the people who live there, aside from the main characters, their costumes are extremely exaggerated and colour blocked.

Grazia Daily: We see Mila Kunis’ character in a riding outfit – why is that?

Gary: Theodora is a woodland Victorian woman and that’s where her basic colours and ideas are from. We learn a lot about her as she comes into the movie and becomes close to Oz. So she’s up to all kinds of things trying to seduce him – she has several different looks - the riding outfit is just one.

Grazia Daily: What about Rachel Weisz’s character, Ednora?

Gary: The world the director created for Ednora to live in was very much in the grand style of the Hollywood movies of the 30s and 40s so her dresses had that kind of a feel. They were much more architectural – the beading wad reminiscent of some of the architecture in her throne room. She is really indicative of the grandeur we think of when we think of Oz as this magical place.

Grazia Daily: Michelle Williams plays the good witch – how did you create her look?

Gary: Glinda has the innocence and the quietness. She comes from the air – so her colours are more iridescent and white and a little more sparkly.

Grazia Daily: How closely did you work with the actresses?

Gary: Extremely. It was a very collaborative experience. We worked on all kinds of samples and prototypes. As soon as we had actors we started fitting clothes and shapes. Fit is really everything. When you have a shape that you want, it’s important to start refining it for the person. But we discussed colours, too. It was really a wonderful and really close relationship with all of them, including James Franco.

Grazia Daily: How was working with James Franco?

Gary: I think what we achieved for James Franco with his three-piece-suit, his shirts and his subtle changes are something that I’m really proud of. If you remember the original he was a really flamboyant character. This part of the story is before that movie – I want him to feel like someone you know – and I think we accomplished that.

Grazia Daily: Did a lot of work go into making the costumes?

Gary: It was a six month intensive prep and then three months of shooting. I had two assistants and an extraordinary wardrobe department who accomplished these huge levels of costume. When we had crowd shots there were normally about 400 people per group. Ultimately we made about 1700 different costumes – on top of the costumes for the principal actors. We had shoe makers, boot makers – it was a huge undertaking. But everything about it was done with real devotion.


 Oz: The Great and the Powerful is in cinemas from 8th March


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