Free Comic Book Day is just around the corner! There’s no better time to get down to your local comic book shop and celebrate. There’ll be events going on around the world, including signings, live-drawings and in-store competitions (as well, of course, as some free comics!).
Whether you’re a comics newbie or a seasoned collector, use this Saturday 5th of May to explore some new worlds, meet some new people and pick up some great new reads.
Here are 10 books to keep an eye out for:
1. The Many Deaths of Scott Koblish by Scott Koblish
You might know Scott Koblish from his work on Deadpool and Spider-Man for Marvel Comics, but he’s been illustrating his own demise for many years in these morbidly funny 4-panel black-and-white comics. Full of comic imagination and recognisable irrational fears, this little book is one to turn to when you just need to laugh at it all.
If you’ve found yourself hooked on recent TV shows like Making A Murderer and Mindhunter, then keep an eye out for the film adaptation of Derf Backderf’s national bestseller, My Friend Dahmer. It release in the UK on the 1st of June 2018 – which makes now the perfect time to read the haunting and original graphic novel.
Thi Bui’s intimate and poignant graphic novel was one of the best reviewed books of 2017. It’s an evocative memoir exploring the anguish of immigration, documenting Bui’s family’s escape from South Vietnam in the 70’s.
4. The Bridge by Peter J. Tomasi (illus. Sara DuVall)
With praise from comics royalty such as Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka and Scott Snyder, The Bridge has only just published and already won plaudits. It’s the story of the family behind one of New York City’s most famous landmarks.
5. Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power! and The Moon Is Up by Mariko Tamaki (illus. Brooklyn Allen)
For kids (and adults!), the middle-grade novel adaptation of the Lumberjanes is just as charming and empowering as the original. Unicorn Power! and the just-published The Moon Is Up are brand new adventures at Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore lady Types!
6. March: Stationery, Postcards & Journal by John Lewis & Andrew Aydin, art by Nate Powell
The March stationery & gift line from Chronicle Books celebrates the words and artwork of the New York Times bestselling graphic novel about the life of Congressman John Lewis. They’re designed to encourage the next generation of activists to dream, plan and fight for what’s right.
7. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds: An Art Bookby Reinhard Kleist
Reinhard Kleist published his graphic biography of Nick Cave to much acclaim last year (Nick Cave: Mercy On Me). Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds: An Art Book collects his moody and expressive portraits of the musician and his band, spanning 30 years, and including comic book re-imaginings of his songs. It’s also vinyl-sized!
The Last Jedi is now officially in cinemas, Christmas is around the corner and, if it hasn’t already, the force of the wish-list awakens…
Here’s our guide to 5 of the galaxy’s greatest gifts for the Jedi/Sith/Droid/Porg in your life:
1. For the fan who’s already booked repeat viewings:
The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi by Phil Szostak
Star Wars: The Force Awakens shattered box-office records as one of the highest-grossing films of all time, and its eagerly awaited sequel, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, is sure to do the same. Written and directed by Rian Johnson (Looper, The Brothers Bloom, Brick) and production designed by Rick Heinrichs (Fargo, The Big Lebowski, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Captain America: The First Avenger), this episode, like every episode before it, owes its visual language and fully imagined cinematic landscape to an incomparable art department: the Lucasfilm ‘visualists.’ The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi explores their vision and illuminates their creative process in stunning detail. Featuring concept art and costume sketches, storyboards, and blueprints, fans will take a deep dive into the development of the fantastic worlds, characters, and creatures—both old and new—of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Featuring unforgettable art and exclusive interviews with the filmmakers, this visual archive highlights moviemaking magic at its finest.
Darth Vader and Family Coloring Book By Jeffrey Brown
Jeffrey Brown’s reimagining of the Star Wars universe has delighted adult fans and young Jedi alike. This new adult colouring book is equally fun to share, featuring a careful translation of artwork from the bestselling Darth Vader and Son™ series to a large-format collection on crisp white paper, plus nine new images to colour.
Star Wars Kirigami: 15 Cut and Fold Ships from Across the Galaxy By Marc Hagan-Guirey
Celebrated paper artist and designer Marc Hagan-Guirey has applied his genius to the Star Wars galaxy in this book of 15 unique kirigami (cut-and-fold) ships featured in the saga’s films. Ranging in difficulty from beginner to expert, each beautifully detailed model features step-by-step instructions and a template printed on cardstock—all that’s needed are a utility knife, a cutting mat, and a ruler. Clear tips and guidance through the tricky stages help readers craft their own X-wing, Imperial Star Destroyer, Millennium Falcon, and a dozen more ships and vehicles, each accompanied by colourful and inspiring photographs of the final model on display (or ready for a jump to Hyperspace).
Ralph McQuarrie is the most iconic artist in the history of Star Wars. He worked hand-in- hand with George Lucas to help establish the saga’s visual aesthetic, its inimitable look and feel. Carefully selected from the definitive volume, Star Wars Art: Ralph McQuarrie, these postcards are a celebration of Star Wars as a masterpiece of design and world-building. The deluxe keepsake package also functions as a display frame: the box features a die-cut window, so fans can rotate their favourite production design paintings into view.
Ninety-nine Stormtroopers join the Empire, and then their troubles begin. One takes a lunch break in the carbon freezing chamber. Two underestimate a princess. One picks the wrong time to ask for a promotion. Another fails to show Jabba the proper respect. And one interrupts Lord Vader’s private time, failing him for the last time. A lifelong Star Wars fan, Greg Stones brings a playful wit and sympathy for the plight of the troops as they meet their amusing ends, filling each colorfully painted scenario with fun Star Wars details and appearances by Han, Luke, Chewie, K-2SO, and many other characters. As the trooper count ticks down, how will the last one fare as he receives a very special assignment (on the Death Star)?
The Star Wars Cookbook: BB-Ate Awaken to the Force of Breakfast and Brunch
By Lara Starr, photography by Matthew Carden
BB-Ate is rolling into shops in the New Year so store up any gift tokens or pre-order now for some delicious recipes from across the galaxy!
Fuel up with Hans Soloatmeal, battle hunger with Admiral Ackbars, and so much more!
These easy-to-make, mouth-watering recipes feature characters and scenes from Star Wars: The Force Awakens as well as from the upcoming film Star Wars: The Last Jedi. And photographs action figures Star Wars figurines re-creating epic moments from the films provide an extra helping of humour.
In STAR WARS™ KIRIGAMI, celebrated paper artist and designer Marc Hagan-Guirey applies his genius to the Star Wars galaxy in this book of 15 unique kirigami (cut and-fold) ships featured in the saga’s films. Ranging in difficulty from beginner to expert, each beautifully detailed model features step-by-step instructions and a template printed on cardstock—all that’s needed are a utility knife, a cutting mat, and a ruler!
We asked Marc everything you need to know about the world of kirigami, getting started with the craft and his interest in Star Wars:
What is kirigami?
Kirigami is a bit like origami except that instead of just folding the paper, you cut it too. ‘Ori’ - means fold and ‘kiri’ means cut. Kirigami is traditionally used to create architectural replicas but it’s perfectly suitable for spaceships too! The cool thing about kirigami is that it’s just one sheet of paper – nothing is glued or added to it. It’s part of the joy that you can create something so interesting from a ubiquity of a piece of paper.
How did you get started creating kirigami?
I feel like it was a bit of a serendipitous moment that lead to me experimenting with the craft. I’m a big fan of the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright and back in 2012 my partner and I told a few white lies to get a private tour of one of his most elusive buildings – the Ennis House in LA. It was a condemned building and had been out of bounds to the public for over 20 years. We may have told them we had the $14 million needed to buy it and were very keen to come and see it. The experience had a huge impact on me – I’d go as far as saying it was spiritual. I wanted to mark the occasion by making some of sort of memento. As a kid I always loved to craft, my currency was egg cartons, toilet roll tubes and cereal boxes (it still pains me to see these things put in the recycling) but as an adult we all know too well that life gets in the way. I’m a designer director in digital but I still had that yearning to use my hands again. When I was researching what to make, I happened upon examples of kirigami. I felt paper was the perfect material to make a replica of the Ennis House due to its fragility. I quickly saw that kirigami wasn’t just limited to buildings and I started making scenes from movies.
Is your book suitable for complete beginners of kirigami?
There are a few ‘beginner’ projects in the book to get you started. I feel kirigami is easy to advance in and you’ll soon want more challenging projects. The most important thing is to be patient, take breaks and enjoy the process. I find it meditative to concentrate and not be distracted by the ‘coke machine glow’ of mobile devices.
Do you need any special tools to do kirigami?
You need a few inexpensive things – a cutting matt, a metal ruler, an x-acto knife with replaceable blades. Also a toothpick will be really useful to pop out some of the smaller folds.
Why did you decide to create Star Wars ships using kirigami?
Why not?! It was more of a necessity for me. I was already creating Star Wars kirigami back when I started experimenting with it. The idea to do a ship focused book was suggested by Mike Siglain, the Creative Director of Lucasfilm publishing – he’s a man with good ideas.
Have you always been a Star Wars fan?
I’ve always been a Star Wars fan and was essentially born into it. I’m an 80s kid so never saw it first time around at the cinema but I have an older brother who was the right age. I feel a bit guilty now for commandeering all of his original Kenner action figures – it must have been torture for him to see his baby brother destroy them but I did just buy him a full scale licensed replica of Vader’s helmet for his 40th birthday so I think we’re even now.
How did the book come to be?
A lot of knocking on doors and badgering people with emails. I started talking to Lucasfilm about the idea in 2014. During that time I was invited to the set of Episode VII and in a serendipitous moment I ended up chatting to JJ Abrams about my work. He was really excited by it and frog marched me across the set of ‘Star Killer’ base to meet Kathleen Kennedy. It was the only time I ever had a business card in my wallet – albeit a very dog-eared one. I had an unofficial exhibition of Star Wars kirigami scenes in 2015 – it had a lot of press and went viral. Lots of big media outlets such as the BFI, Wired, BBC World News, CNN were covering it. I guess it was inevitable that Disney took notice and that dog-eared business card eventually made its way to the business development department. I thought I was in trouble when they called! I’ve got to say the process of working with Disney, Lucasfilm, my publisher Hachette and my US publisher Chronicle has been wonderful.
Click here to find out more about STAR WARS KIRIGAMI, which publishes today!
Here at A&CB HQ we LOVE Halloween and we are lucky to be surrounded by some SPOOKtacular books.
Read on for our top 7 Halloween reads for all ages.
Boo Haiku by Deanna Caswell and Bob Shea
Here’s a spooky haiku just for you! broom across the moon pointed hat at the window hair-raising cackle
Can you guess who from this haiku?
A witch, a bat, a skeleton, a jack-o-lantern, a ghost, a black cat, a spider, an owl and a scarecrow are all hiding in the pages of this clever Halloween-themed book. Deanna Caswell’s playful haiku cleverly hint at the creatures revealed after each turn of the page while Bob Shea’s bright illustrations capture the scary silliness.
A perfect introduction to Halloween for a little monster!
Recommended reading age: 0-3 years
Leo by Mac Barnett , illustrated by Christian Robinson
“A clever, timeless, quality picture book that will be revisited again and again over many years to come.” Picture Books Blogger
“With more gentilesse than ghoulishness, Leo’s brand of haunting takes on distinctly hospitable tones. This one’s a charmer, so whatever you do, don’t call Ghostbusters!” MyLittleStyleFile
You would like being friends with Leo. He likes to draw, he makes delicious snacks, and most people can’t even see him. Because Leo is also a ghost. When a new family moves into his home and Leo’s efforts to welcome them are misunderstood, Leo decides it is time to leave and see the world. That is how he meets Jane, a kid with a tremendous imagination and an open position for a worthy knight. That is how Leo and Jane become friends. And that is when their adventures begin.
A charming story of friendship, perfect for a Halloween bedtime story.
Recommended reading age: 4+ years
Bigfoot is Missing! by Kenn Nesbitt and J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by MinaLima
Children’s Poets Laureate J. Patrick Lewis and Kenn Nesbitt team up to offer a smart, stealthy tour of the creatures of shadowy myth and fearsome legend—the enticing, the humorous and the strange.
Bigfoot, the Mongolian Death Worm and the Loch Ness Monster number among the many creatures lurking within these pages. Readers may have to look twice—the poems in this book are disguised as street signs, newspaper headlines, graffiti, milk cartons and more!
Dive-in to the world of myths, legends and all things that go bump in the night with this unique collection of poetry.
Recommended reading age: 7+ years
Dr. Critchlore’s School for Minions by Sheila Grau, illustrated by Joe Sutphin
Welcome to Dr. Critchlore’s School for Minions, the premier trainer of minions for Evil Overlords everywhere. No student is prouder to be at Dr. Critchlore’s than Runt Higgins, a twelve-year-old werewolf. (At least he thinks he’s twelve. He was abandoned at the school as a baby, so he can’t say for sure.) Runt loves everything about Dr. Critchlore’s. He loves his classes—such as History of Henchmen and Introduction to Explosives. He loves his friends—such as Darthin the gargoyle and Syke the tree nymph. And he loves his foster family, who took him in when his wolf pack couldn’t.But not everyone loves Dr. Critchlore’s as much as Runt. After a series of disasters, each worse than the next, it’s clear that someone is trying to shut the school down. It’s up to Runt, who knows the place better than anybody, to figure out who’s behind the attacks . . . and to save his home, and Dr. Critchlore himself, from total destruction.
A perfect Halloween read for Despicable Me mad monsters.
Recommended reading age: 8+ years
The Clockwork Scarab: A Stoker & Holmes Novel by Colleen Gleason
Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes never meant to get into the family business. But when you’re the sister of Bram and the niece of Sherlock, vampire hunting and mystery solving are in your blood, so to speak. And when two young society girls disappear—one dead, one missing—there’s no one more qualified to investigate.
Now fierce Evaline and logical Mina must resolve their rivalry, navigate the advances of not just one but three mysterious gentlemen, and solve a murder with only one clue: a strange Egyptian scarab. The pressure is on and the stakes are high—if Stoker and Holmes don’t figure out why London’s finest sixteen-year-old women are in danger, they’ll become the next victims.
A heart-pounding race around a steampunk re-imaging of Victorian London where danger lurks around every corner: a first-class Halloween read.
Recommended reading age: 10+ years
The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters
“Rich, compelling, and wonderfully atmospheric, this is the fourth Cat Winters novel where the beautiful, haunting tale has gripped me from the beginning.” Kate Ormand, author of Dark Days
“Haunting, beautifully written and immensely powerful, this is a story that resonates through time and history whilst delivering a clever and compelling thriller.” Lancashire Evening Post
The Steep and Thorny Way tells the story of a murder most foul and the mighty power of love and acceptance in a state gone terribly rotten.
1920s Oregon is not a welcoming place for Hanalee Denney, the daughter of a white woman and an African-American man. She has almost no rights by law, and the Ku Klux Klan breeds fear and hatred in even Hanalee’s oldest friendships. Plus, her father, Hank Denney, died a year ago, hit by a drunk-driving teenager. Now her father’s killer is out of jail and back in town, and he claims that Hanalee’s father wasn’t killed by the accident at all but, instead, was poisoned by the doctor who looked after him—who happens to be Hanalee’s new stepfather.
The only way for Hanalee to get the answers she needs is to ask Hank himself, a “haint” wandering the roads at night.
Curling-up with this re-imagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet is sure to get you in the Halloween spirit.
Recommended reading age: 14+ years
The Raven: A Pop-Up Bookby David Pelham
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door . . .
Edgar Allan Poe’s chilling poem, The Raven, is brought to life by master paper engineer David Pelham. What better way to celebrate Halloween than with a haunting love story?
Share your favourite Halloween reads with us @AbramsChroniclewith #SpooktacularReads
As a cat lover you know all cats have their own unique personalities: Amy Goldwasser and Peter Arkle have create a book; All Black Cats are Not Alike, to celebrate these diverse personalities, specifically the personalities of 50 black cats.
Meet Blackness/Batwing, Sashi, Ringo and Rashid/Dr. Startlepants.
Blackness/BatWing is responsible for the missing hamburger patty. At two-and-a-half, he’s the baby of a houseful of animals just north of Pittsburgh: four cats (Jynx, Wibbles, Kowalski, Effie) and two German Shepherds (Ziggy, Morgan). He sometimes comes to visit All Gray Cat Baboo and Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy Rasko. He does not like to be snuck up on and will jump 10 feet in the air if this happens. He likes donuts, car rides and Christmas. He’s been seen wearing a knit scarf.
Sashi is scheming.
A shy beauty of Siberian descent, Sashi lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with four humans: two large, two small. She yells at the woman in the morning and the man at night. She is starting to manipulate the kids. Sashi is 15 years old but looking great, often mistaken for 12. She enjoys freeze-dried chicken by candlelight and full-body rubs. She does not enjoy overachievers, beef or pork.
Ringo has just landed.
Though silky, jet-black young Ringo is an easygoing boy, he always looks somewhat startled. When he arrived at Meow Parlour—where he and fellow ABCs Ronaldo and Kim were all adopted and sponsored to appear in this book—he had a single white whisker on each side. One day he lost one of them and seemed very upset by the asymmetry. Until he lost the other. The 1-year-old puppycat personality, a Taurus, likes snuggling, soccer and yellow submarines. He dislikes magnetic anomalies.
Rashid/Dr. Startlepants is collecting data.
Science is the driving force in the life of Rashid/ Dr. Startlepants. He is a mad scientist genius who would rule the world if he could do it from under the covers. His biggest love and his biggest phobia are the same thing: strange phenomena. Even before his tail has returned to normal size, he will sneak up on whatever he encountered, closely observing its behavior until it gives up its secrets. He likes vanilla cupcakes and talking smack at his archnemesis, a crow who sits on the roof across the street. He lives in Seattle with humans Beverly and Rick and tabby sister Surya, who is also his lovely assistant under her nom de science, Miss Smackwiggins.
All Black Cats are Not Alike by Amy Goldwasser and Peter Arkle is available now.
Our final Top Five is a collection of our favourite Pop Culture titles!
This quirky little book of poems by cats gets us laughing every time we open it. With titles like ‘Who Is That on Your Lap?, This is My Chair, Kneel Before Me, Nudge, and Some of My Best Friends Are Dogs, thepoems collected in I Could Pee on Thisperfectly capture the inner workings of the cat psyche.
CAT LOVERS! Rejoice in the quirkiness of your feline friends with these insightful and curious poems from the singular mind of house cats.
The Grumpy Cat book delivers a healthy dose of Grumpy Cat’s bad attitude. Offering a tour of her least favourite things (that is, everything) along with scathing commentary throughout.
We HAD to celebrate everyone’s favourite grumpy feline in our Top 5 Pop Culture titles. She may be the Queen of NO, but we say YES to Grumpy Cat.
YES we adore you!
This book needs no introduction and our Top 5 Pop Culture list would not be complete with out it.
Wes Anderson is the most influential comedic voice from the past two decades of American cinema. The Wes Anderson Collection is the first in-depth overview of Anderson’s work, guiding readers through the life and career of one of the most talked-about contemporary filmmakers. Previously unpublished photos, artwork and ephemera complement a book-length interview between Anderson and award-winning film critic Matt Zoller Seitz, who offers insights into Anderson’s creative process, influences, and the production of his films. These elements come together in a meticulously designed object in the spirit of Anderson’s movies: melancholy and playful, wise and childish—and thoroughly original.
This is THE book for the legions of Wes Anderson Fans and sits proudly on our own bookshelves.
The book the started it all, the original Worst-Case Scenario introduced us into a world of wit and humour from which we have never looked back.
Danger! It lurks at every corner. Volcanoes. Sharks. Quicksand. Terrorists.
The pilot of the plane blacks out and it’s up to you to land the jet. What do you do?
The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook is here to help: jam-packed with how-to, hands-on, step-by-step, illustrated instructions on everything you need to know FAST-from defusing a bomb to delivering a baby in the back of a cab. Providing frightening and funny real information this indispensable, indestructible pocket-sized guide is the definitive handbook for those times when life takes a sudden turn for the worse. The essential companion for a perilous age.
Because you never know…
Our final choice for our Top 5 Pop Culture list is the incredible George Harrison Living in the Material World.
Drawing on George Harrison’s personal archive of photographs, letters, diaries, and memorabilia, Olivia Harrison reveals the arc of his life, from his guitar-obsessed boyhood in Liverpool, to the astonishment of the Beatles years, to his days as an independent musician and bohemian squire. Here too is the record of Harrison’s lifelong commitment to Indian music, and his adventures as a movie producer, Travelling Wilbury, and Formula One racing fan.
Filled with stories and reminiscences from Harrison’s friends, including Eric Clapton, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idol, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and many, many others. Plus a collection of previously unpublished photographs by Harrison himself beginning in the mid-1960s. It is a rich tribute to a man who died far too young, but who touched the lives of millions.
Well that is it folks, all of our Top 5s! Did we miss your favourites? Let us know @abramschronicle!
The Epic Yarns series; three board books each containing 12 iconic scenes, handcrafted in felt and pithily summarised in just a single word are the perfect way to introduce your Jedi apprentices & little princesses the Force.
A deserving winner of countless awards this season, The Grand Budapest Hotel has been recognised for their outstanding costumes by the Golden Globes, BAFTAs, SAG Awards and Costume Designers Guild to name but a few.
Milena Canonero grew up in Genoa, Italy, before moving to England to finish her studies. Canonero’s film career started with Stanley Kubrick when she designed the costumes for three of his films: A Clockwork Orange (1971), Barry Lyndon (1975, for which she won the first of her three Academy Awards), and The Shining (1980). She has worked with Alan Parker (Midnight Express, 1978), Hugh Hudson (Chariots of Fire, 1981, for which she won her second Oscar), Francis Ford Coppola (The Cotton Club, 1984; The Godfather: Part III, 1990), Sydney Pollock (Out of Africa, 1985), Louis Malle (Damage, 1992), Warren Beatty (Dick Tracy, 1990; Bulworth, 1998), Julie Taymor (Titus, 1999), Roman Polanski (Carnage, 2011), and Manoel de Oliveira (Belle toujours, 2006). Her work with Sofia Coppola on Marie Antoinette (2006) brought Canonero her third Oscar. She has collaborated with Wes Anderson on The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004), The Darjeeling Limited (2007), and The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014).
Matt Zoller Seitz: Were you familiar with Wes Anderson’s films before you started work on The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou? What did you think of his movies as visual statements?
Milena Canonero: I had seen his movies and how his work had evolved into a sophisticated, highly personal cinematic style. Wes is not only a film director, but an author. Like a great painter’s, his work is very identifiable, and unique to him. His visionary world is very inspiring; I completely submerge myself into it.
What is it like to work with him on a day-to-day level?
Wes is particular about details, and so am I. He is very specific, and yet he also leaves you a lot of space. He wants input and ideas. The “look” of the characters, when not specified in the script, evolved over the course of much discussion. I have continuous exchanges with Wes via e-mail, his favourite medium lately, but he is also very available in person, even when he’s under the pressure of a film shoot. I work closely with the production designer and the cinematography, so that everything comes together as a whole—especially in the overall colour palette of the movie. Colours have their own music, and Wes cares a lot that they are the right notes.
How did Wes describe the world of this film to you? Did he have any specific or general suggestions for how he wanted the clothes to look?
He told me he wanted to set the movie in an invented northern European Teutonic country, sometime in the 1930s, and for the opening sequence in the 1960s, he wanted Eastern European tones. Most of the story would take place in a luxurious mountain hotel resort and the surrounding area. Of course, this being a Wes Anderson movie, the title had nothing to do with the city of Budapest. Therefore, the look could be inventive, with historical innuendos, but at the same time accurate. This story is told through memories and therefore we could develop the look that was able to freeze the image in your mind. Wes’s references of Austrian and German writers, artists of the pre–Second World War period, were a good guideline, but also I looked at the work of August Sander, a great German photographer of the thirties, as well as at old movies and other sources. Of course, during the creative process, the final look of each character evolved. For instance, at the beginning, Ralph Fiennes’s character, M. Gustave, was supposed to be quite blond, with hair like the dyed blond hair of the very old ladies he goes to bed with. But then it seemed more suitable that he would have more realistic auburn hair, with golden highlights.
Were the clothes entirely original, or did you use some vintage items?
We made most of the clothes in our workshop in Görlitz. Some were made at Theaterkunst in Berlin, and all of the uniforms were made at Krzysztof’s costume workshop, Hero Collection, in Poland. I also rented and bought vintage clothes for the extras in the crowd scenes. One of the vintage shops we used in Berlin is called Mimi. Great shop.
How do you work out ideas for costumes before they’re sewn? Do you draw rough versions of them in a sketchbook and then have somebody do more elaborate illustrations when the ideas have settled a bit?
On the other two movies I did with Wes, The Life Aquatic and The Darjeeling Limited, I applied traditional sketching methods to design the look of the characters. On this one, our illustrators used both Photoshop and traditional sketching to incorporate Wes’s and my own ideas. With Photoshop we could get very close to the actors’ likenesses, and then easily do variations and send them to Wes via e-mail. The actors were very pleased because they could relate easily to how their character would look. Having worked on two of Wes’s other movies, I had already worked with some of his “ensemble” actors and it was interesting to change them again to these other characters. Wes had decided that all the men in the movie would have moustaches or beards, save for Jopling and the nasty sergeant in the train. I loved this idea, and it is curious that hardly anyone notices this detail—but it gives a style to the men’s looks.
What are some of the materials that you used most often when designing the costumes for this film? Were there particular materials that you considered “workhorse” materials—ones that you perhaps used more often than others?
The purple and mauve facecloth, which is a very densely woven wool used for military uniforms. I wanted to avoid being too classical and using typical subdued colours for the hotel uniforms. I showed Wes the purple and mauve facecloth from an old swatch book from a company called Hainsworth in London. Wes was immediately taken by those colours, which worked beautifully with the set. Then the nightmare began, because I could not find the volume of fabric in that shade anymore, and time wasn’t on our side! But just in the nick of time, we discovered a German company, Mehler, who came to our rescue with an identical fabric, as well as so many of the other great colours that I needed for the movie.
What influences did you bring to bear on the hotel staff’s uniforms?
I used the cut and style of real uniforms of that period, and also many photos of high-end luxury hotel staff.
Can you describe the look of Ralph Fiennes’s character, M. Gustave? What did you hope to convey about the character based on his clothing?
M. Gustave, from the top of his hair to the tip of his shoes, had to give us a sense of perfection and control. He had to be able to move with elegance and freedom. Even when the world he knows collapses, he still maintains his sense of style. This is not at all difficult when you’re working with an accomplished actor like Ralph. It was delicious to watch him perform, and he is a great person to work with.
What are Tilda Swinton’s clothes made of?
Silk velvet, for both the dress and the coat. Then I had it hand-painted with design patterns inspired by the paintings of Gustav Klimt. Tilda’s character, Madame D., is eighty-four years old. We had to age her, and a great team from London did that beautifully. Wes described her as a great eccentric beauty and an art collector, belonging outside the fashion of her present time. Therefore I designed the clothes in a retro style, like that of the early twenties. Wes liked that. She just went for this look with incredible ease and so much humour. Fendi, with whom we had a relationship, contributed by making Madame D.’s muff for us, as well as the black diamond mink fur trimmings on her cape and hat. Fendi also made the gray Astrakhan fur overcoat I designed for Edward Norton, and they gave us all the furs I wanted for the movie. Nowadays, movies need the generous input of patrons from the fashion world to help with our costume budgets.
Can you tell me a little bit about the look of Willem Dafoe’s character, the assassin Jopling?
The design of Jopling’s leather coat was based on the coats of 1930s military dispatch riders. Our tailor made the toile, and we sent it to Prada, who generously manufactured the coat for us. When we got it back from them, we lined it with a red super-fine wool, and constructed the inside of the front lapel to contain the weapons arsenal as Wes had described it in his script. We made gauntlets gloves, but these were never used, as Wes liked to see the beautiful knuckle-dusters that Waris Ahluwalia had designed and made especially for us, with a skeleton head for each finger. Waris, an actor who has appeared in several of Wes’s movies and here plays one of the concierges, is also a terrific jeweller.
How would you describe the director’s own sense of style, as he appears in daily life?