CDG - The Costume Designer

Spring 2017

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16 The Costume Designer Spring 2017 Carlo Poggioli The Young Pope In HBO's The Young Pope, Costume Designer Carlo Poggioli was able to consider the sacred and the profane within the person of one character, Lenny Belardo—aka Pope Pius XIII (Jude Law). In an interesting twist, Poggioli used liturgical garments, which have changed only incrementally since the medieval period, to explore Pope Belardo's transformation. Poggioli had the benefit of a six-month prep, and the luxury of scrutinizing original garments housed in the Vatican Museum. Additionally, he was charged with a unique design problem— in order to accommodate the many multiples necessary for the film, he had to build everything from scratch, as realistically as possible, down to the intricate embroidery. The church's power is symbolized by the papal tiara, last worn by Paulo VI in the 1960s, who gave it up in a gesture of humility and practicality. Enormously heavy, shaped like a hive, and covered in jewels, the headdress was literally and figuratively from another age. Law assured Poggioli saying, "Carlo, thank you. I now understand why the pope couldn't move at all. This weight gives me the possibility to understand the weight of the church." Poggioli took care to draw the distinction between the private and public life of the pope. Out of the public eye, the pontiff is just a human being. Poggioli explains, "The interesting thing is what he was wearing was like a mask. When he wears all these jewels and stones, he is representing something else that is the power, and when he's represent- ing himself, that's simple. But when he wears his vestments, everything is hand-made, even the embroidery had to be real. Each cape needed months of work, and I have to say thank you to Swarovski because they gave us the possibility to use all of their wonderful stones on the capes and tiara." Even the jewelry was custom-made for the film, and Poggioli chose to alter the scale of the originals for effect, and make everything slightly larger than they actually are. Poggioli also used the accessories to elaborate on the character. He built all of the hats with slightly exaggerated brims. He says, "The pope wears sunglasses, he wears the hats. He's hiding from the people during his first speech in St. Peter's, so they don't know his face. Because in his speech he says, 'You will see my face when you will believe in Christ. That's when you will be allowed to see me.' That's a line from the script and that is the atmosphere. He's hiding all the time." A distinctive element is the red slippers, which Poggioli commissioned Christian Louboutin to create. Symbolizing the blood and passion of Christ, Poggioli calls them the "Ferraris," and designed them thinking about the scene where everyone has to kiss the pope's shoes. They offer striking punctuation to Pope Belardo's white robes and ornate gowns. Regarding illustration, Poggioli says, "It has been always very important for me to personally draw and paint the initial sketches because it is a process that allows me to approach an atmosphere, or visually clarify the characters' personality and therefore to show clear ideas to the director. Unfortunately, the prep time for films is getting shorter and shorter, so I have to ask my collaborators to help me, especially in big produc- tions. But at the beginning of every project, I have to create every single design in detail, including footwear, jewelry, mil- linery, makeup, and hair."

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