Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Few Words With "The Great Beauty's" Costume Designer, Daniela Ciancio

"He must be the king of the night."

Daniela Ciancio created the costumes for Paolo Sorrentino’s “The Great Beauty,” as she did for his 2008 movie “Il Divo.” Trim and youthful, Ciancio was in Los Angeles for an exhibit of her work at the Los Angeles Italia film festival. It was her first visit to Hollywood. She recently designed wardrobe for the forthcoming Michael Winterbottom film “The Face of an Angel,” a fictionalized treatment of the Amanda Knox murder case starring Kate Beckinsale and Daniel Bruhl. Like the character of Jep, played by Tony Servillo, she was born in Naples. We spoke to her as we toured her exhibit last week.
"The Great Beauty": What the well dressed Neapolitan man wears

How did you go about designing for Jep?

Everything in the film revolves around him. In the movie, Jep comes from Naples and he must have those special things that tell us he comes from this part of Italy. Neapolitan style for men is different from other parts of Italy. I did a lot of research about Neapolitan style and thought a lot about Jep. He must be completely different from the other people in the story. He looks at life around him from a distance. His character is full and empty at the same time. I used the Neapolitan style. The cut of the jacket is typical of Naples. A white shirt and light trousers, this is typical Neapolitan style of someone who lives in Capri or Positano. Sorrentino wrote in the script that he wanted a yellow jacket for Jep in one scene. Normally the jacket is blue or light blue, but we also used yellow and red.

What distinguishes the Neapolitan style?

It’s an old tradition. It’s related to the English style in men’s suits. The difference is in the cut of the jacket and the shoulder. It’s really soft. Cesare Attolini is a famous suit maker in Naples. We worked with them to get the shapes we wanted. The jacket fits close to the body, and we used square patch pockets and fabrics that wrinkle a bit.

Why do Italian men in general always look so elegant, sophisticated, confident?

I don’t think all of the men in my film were well dressed. Jep, yes. He must be fashionable, elegant, a little eccentric. He must be the king of the night. In Italy we have a big tradition of elegance in men’s fashions. I studied it a lot with the great designer Piero Tosi (“The Leopard,” “Death in Venice,” and a five time Oscar nominee). He was my mentor. Our tradition of designing is strong, but the result should be very simple.
Dianela Ciancio and her original drawing of Jep's yellow jacket

The quality of tailoring is superb in Italy. Is this a factor in your ability to achieve this sophisticated, yet casual effect?

Yes, a beautiful cut and beautiful material allows to get the result we want. And Tony Servillo has a great body, he plays with the costume.

Can you make those suits in the U.S.?

(She laughs.)

Why are Italian men so fashionable in movies?

We have a great tradition of cut and fantastic material. When you put these two things together, you can get a really fabulous result. Italian men love to dress. That’s another part of it.

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