Keira Knightley in A Dangerous Method. Image courtesy of eOne Films.
"In the film,
Spider, there is a line in which Ralph Fiennes says ‘Clothes make the man’. This is so true!" —Denise Cronenberg Denise Cronenberg, a veteran costume
designer and six-time Genie nominee, worked hand-in-hand with director (and brother!), David Cronenberg on the costumes for
A Dangerous Method, this spring’s critically acclaimed period drama about the relationship between psychoanalysts Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen), Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) and Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley). Since
The Fly in 1986, Denise has handled costume duties for all her brother’s films, from
M. Butterfly to
Eastern Promises. For
A Dangerous Method, the siblings communicated via email about their design visions (Denise was in
London, while David was in Cologne, Germany). "He had no idea what I was thinking [for the costumes] until he received those emails," Denise explains, "Luckily, he loved them all." Denise talked to ELLE about her favourite on-set moments, how costumes can enhance character and the biggest challenges of designing for a period film.
1. How did you start the design process? "We did extensive research—after all. we were recreating a specific period [1904-1913] and the lives of real people. The research, and building off the costumes [from that], took 10 weeks in London and was ongoing in Cologne, since we hadn’t seen all of the actors yet."
2. What did you discover about that era? "Dress was very strict. The main
colour was white for women and black for men. We showed the progression of the clothing as it changed throughout these period. No one went out in relaxed clothing because there really wasn’t any. Even in our research of mental institutions, men wore suits and women wore Victorian high neck blouses, shawls and skirts. It was all very buttoned up!"
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