Denise Cronenberg Talks Dressing Keira Knightley in 'A Dangerous Method' and Robert Pattinson in 'Cosmopolis'

16 February 2012 by

'A Dangerous Method' is the movie everyone’s been talking about – namely because it stars period veterans Michael Fassbender and Keira Knightley and features a lot of, er, spanking. The film is based on the relationships between psychologist extraordinaire trio Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and the first ever female psychoanalysts, Sabina Spielrein. Keira had to down shots of vodka before filming those scenes and here we get the inside scoop from costume designer Denise Cronenberg (yes, that’s sister of director David Cronenberg), about putting Keira in yet another corset, working with Robert Pattinson on his upcoming film 'Cosmopolis' and how YOU could end up wearing the costumes from 'A Dangerous Method'…  

Grazia Daily: What’s it like working with your brother?
Denise Cronenberg: We get on very well and he trusts me implicitly. David never saw any of the costumes other than online until one day before shooting because we were prepping in London while he was in Cologne, Germany. It was a new way of working but it worked because the trust is there. And, I know him well, I know when to talk to him about something and when not to.

Grazia Daily: What’s Keira Knightley like? Did she have any input over what she wore?
Denise Cronenberg: She’s amazing! She didn’t really though, I did a huge lot of research. It was harder with Sabina because we couldn’t find anything on the actual Sabina – we only found a head shot of her from when she was 17 and one other from her 40s which you could hardly see, so I had to create her Edwardian/Victorian style from scratch. Freud and Jung, on the other hand were done exactly as I saw them in their photographs. Keira’s amazing though, her body is so easy to fit and she looks quite great in everything. I had a lot of things ready but we exchanged research. We used very fine cotton that were from Christening dresses and laces that were all of the period. We took them off a lot of costumes, we also found the most extraordinary stores in London, I couldn’t have done that film anywhere else. We made all the costumes with Cost Prop (a rental house and costume design house) and they hold all of the costumes until the film is released and then they put it into their stock for other people to use!

Grazia Daily: Which outfit did Keira enjoy wearing most?
Denise Cronenberg: She loved it all but there was one that she loved that she actually has. It’s the dress she wore with the hat that almost looks like it’s an extreme upside down 20s hat. It’s white lace and goes slim at the bottom because at around the early 1900s, the bottom part of dresses started to become slimmer and the bum pads and wider skirts were going out of style. Keira took a pair of shoes too, they were gorgeous boots with laces that were soft and amazing to wear. She also loved the white dress with lace that she wore with a Russian stole around her.

Grazia Daily: How did you get started on the costumes?
Denise Cronenberg: I got my ideas from the original costumes that Cost Prop have. Nobody can wear them because they’d fall apart and they’re all in plastic but I got ideas of the lines and combined a couple of dresses into one. It takes me about ten weeks to make each costume including research and building. Absolutely everything you see was made by us from the coats to the suits and nurses costumes.  

Grazia Daily: How did the female cast cope with all the original corsets?
Denise Cronenberg: They were all in original corsets, bum pads and many petticoats. Of course you don’t see them all but they were all beautiful. A lot of the corsets today are taken from the old originals. I used the fabric it would have been made in and the hooks at the front. It’s important for the actors to have all that underneath. We joked because we were saying that it was amazing that anyone ever had sex! It’s just like, 'how?' By the time you got all your clothes off you’d just be like, ‘Forget it!’ In fact, what they did was they would do it with the clothes half on, which is what you see in the film. You don’t ever see everybody with all the clothes off. And you get to see a bit of Keira’s corset…

Grazia Daily: Ah yes, in that scene!
Denise Cronenberg: Yeah, the scene was tricky but the clothes were fine for her and she and Michael were professionals and great.

Grazia Daily: You’re working on Cosmopolis with Robert Pattinson now, what’s that been like?
Denise Cronenberg: Oh, he’s lovely! He’s such a nice, sweet kid. He’s intelligent and smart; he was very brave to take on something like this because I think he was quite hesitant at first. But David is wonderful with actors and he’s a father of three, so he uses that. He and Robert had a wonderful relationship. It was an unusual film to do, very unusual. We had to do a rave, street fires and have cars exploding for this film! David and I decided what we thought we’d put Robert in. I then talked to Gucci who were incredible and gave us all his clothes. He’s dressed from head to toe in Gucci from the tie to his socks! And we had no money, like really, no money so we could never have done it without them.

A Dangerous Method is in cinemas now.


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