'Poor Things' design team breaks down how they created the movie's 'otherworldly' style

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Wednesday, February 28, 2024
'Poor Things' design team breaks down movie's style
Designers break down how "Poor Things'" unique looks came to be.

When "Poor Things" was released late last year, it left a lasting impression not only on avid moviegoers, but also fashion enthusiasts for its otherworldly costumes.

The film's Bella Baxter, played by Emma Stone, donned standout looks that truly embodied main character energy that aligns seamlessly with her role as a young Victorian London woman (brought back to life by an unorthodox scientist) on a journey of self-discovery.

"She is unshakable. She's uncontainable, she's free. She's a young child in a grown-up's body," Holly Waddington, the film's lead costume designer, told "GMA" when speaking about Bella's wardrobe.

MORE | 'Surreal dream': Emma Stone reacts to Oscar nominations for Poor Things

This image released by Searchlight Pictures shows Emma Stone in a scene from "Poor Things."
This image released by Searchlight Pictures shows Emma Stone in a scene from "Poor Things."
(Searchlight Pictures via AP)

Waddington said she was given a bit of free rein when it came to curating Bella's style, and that she was initially kept away from what "Poor Things" production designers Shona Heath and James Price had come up with.

While many would imagine the presence of a corset within the film, Waddington opted away from it, calling it a "potent, heavily loaded piece of clothing" that felt like "bondage" and wrong for Bella's character. "It is impossible to tie her down," she said.

"Poor Things" costume designer Holly Waddington and makeup artist Nadia Stacey breakdown the inspiration behind the movie's most extraordinary ensembles.
Photo by Atsushi Nishijima. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures.

Throughout the Yorgos Lanthimos-directed production, Stone is seen wearing an array of striking outfits that include everything from ruffles to puffy sleeves, which Waddington said are a nod to empowerment.

"If you go around with sleeves like this, you take up a lot more room," Waddington said. "You know, we associate big shoulders with men. It's a sort of male physical attribute. There's a lightness to them. I didn't want them to be heavy and stodgy, as they often were in the period. They're very light and air-filled. So they're kind of emulating bodily organs, lungs. The airiness of them is something to do with, say something, anything about her reanimation."

MORE |'Poor Things' in the spotlight with 11 Oscar nominations: 'Beyond what they thought was possible'

"Poor Things" is one of the most buzzed about movies this Oscar season with 11 nominations including acting nods for stars Emma Stone and Mark Ruffalo.

"Poor Things" lead makeup artist Nadia Stacey recalled having a painting of a girl with dark hair by Egon Schiele that served as a base for how Bella's look came together.

"The biggest thing for Bella is I wanted to make sure that she looked different in this world around her," Stacey said. "She's an experiment, basically. She doesn't understand society rules, and so I needed to make sure that she kind of looked slightly otherworldly."

Stacey also reminisced about how amazing it was to see Stone transform in her chair to Bella, saying it was like seeing a character she's never seen before.

MORE | See the full list of Oscars nominations here

This image released by Searchlight Pictures shows Emma Stone, left, and Mark Ruffalo in a scene from Poor Things.
This image released by Searchlight Pictures shows Emma Stone, left, and Mark Ruffalo in a scene from "Poor Things."
Atsushi Nishijima/Searchlight Pictures via AP

"When I saw this film, even though I'd been there every day with her, I couldn't quite believe the performance and what she'd done with it," Stacey said.

Stone's unique role and performance in "Poor Things" has earned her two nominations for the 2024 Oscars, including one for best actress and the other for best picture.

The movie earned 11 nominations, making it the second most-nominated film this year behind "Oppenheimer."

Mark your calendar: March 10, 2024 is Oscar Sunday. The 2024 Oscars air live on ABC. After the last award is handed out, stay with "On The Red Carpet" for continuing coverage. Be sure to follow @OnTheRedCarpet for all your Oscar news and information. Watch "On The Red Carpet" wherever you stream.

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