'New Moon' costume designer Tish Monaghan on Edward's suit and Jacob's cut-offs
You have to immediately like a costume designer who’ll admit that she’s wearing sweatpants while chatting with you from her Vancouver home. We phoned Tish Monaghan, who took over styling duties for The Twilight Saga: New Moon and Eclipse, to talk about how Edward ended up in a suit, why Jacob’s muscles are bulging through his shirt (when he actually wears one), what department mandated that the wolf pack’s jean shorts be extra tight, and more.
TISH MONAGHAN: He wasn’t a fan of the pea coat. He wore it in virtually every scene, and I think maybe he just got tired of it. I’m guessing. [Laughs] He just wanted a more mature look. That was part of Edward’s Grade 11 year, and now he’s getting into his graduation year, he’s in a relationship. He had worn hoodies and jeans and sneakers, and Robert, the director [Chris Weitz], and I all wanted to portray him more as a gentleman, more elegant and classic. With our vampire characters, I always went back to the time period in which they were turned to see if there’s any element I could try to simulate in contemporary clothing. He came out of the Edwardian period, around 1910. Of course, most of the gentleman from that time would be wearing suits, coats, hats, etc. We had to pick something that was iconic for the character that would suffice to be used throughout the whole film. At the very beginning of the film, he has one school outfit, and then there’s Bella’s birthday party and disaster strikes. So Edward ends up in that same costume for the remainder of the film. I was thinking of just putting him in a dress shirt and a pair of pants, but Robert wanted to be in a suit.
So I found a modern contemporary look that would be appealing to him and to the massive fan base, a very slim cut, and a fabric that to me was a bit Old World — this beautiful tweed fabric that we got out of England. It had the gray base, which is kind of essential for the Cullen characters in their cool tones, but also had little interesting flecks of blue, which is also Cullen, and a tiny little bit of rust, which I liked because Bella wears earth tones and that kinda linked her into the picture. The general texture of the suit would hold up well no matter what setting he was in: Inside the house for the party, or in the forest, or in the Volturi chamber. We had to show wear on the suit, and it’s much easier to rough up something that has texture to it than just a flat piece of wool. His pants are worn at the knees, they’re rumpled.
I don’t know if anyone’s looking at his pants when he removes his shirt in Italy.
The fans were very excited to see that, I don’t know if Robert was particularly excited to perform that in front of 1,500 people. I think it was quite hard for him to do. We originally tested Edward in a plain white shirt, as a forlorn-looking option. That is also what Robert wanted — he wanted something that would wash him out. But you need to have a color that makes you pop, and so we actually dyed the fabric this beautiful ink blue ourselves. It highlighted his vampire white skin really well. I think it’s a great moment when we see him in these clothes that he’s worn from September to May. When he goes to sacrifice himself, he’s in disrepair. Robert and Chris wanted his shirt to have a rip across the chest, so that’s what we gave him. It’s really kind of tragic to watch him take off his shirt, because he really is sacrificing himself. It looks like he’s just giving up. He’s exposing himself and he’s completely vulnerable, and he just takes his shirt off and he drops it at his feet with his eyes downcast. Then he gets attacked by Bella, who shoves him inside the doors. [Laughs] I don’t find it like a beefcake moment. It really is a moving moment, and I think Robert did a really amazing job for that scene.
The tear across the chest was to symbolize that his heart was torn out when he thought he lost Bella?
Maybe. [Laughs] They just said, “Rip it across the chest.” I said, “Are you sure? No shirt’s gonna rip like this.” And they said, “Yes.” So I did it.
Why couldn’t he remain shirtless for the indoor fight scene? Why put on the robe?
Originally, the guards who grab him were supposed to be coming from the outside — that’s why they give him the robe. But the setting was changed, and they grab him on the inside. So why do they hand him this robe? Because, quite honestly, it looks very cool fighting with this long, flowing garment, and it does hide pads, protect him.
Moving on to the wolf pack, was it easier to dress them since they were shirtless?
We still had to have a lot of fittings with them. You had to be very careful with where the shorts fall on the hip bone, we had to make sure everything sits at the same place when they run. Each individual actor had their own request, but we also had requests from the visual effects department, because if we had big, loose shredded shorts on when they morphed into wolves, it’s too much work and too many hours to magically get rid of that clothing on camera. They wanted the shorts as close-fitting to the leg as possible, whereas the natural tendency of the guys would be to have something baggier so that they didn’t look like they were wearing hot pants. [Laughs] So if I knew they were going to morph, then they had tighter-fitting shorts, and if they didn’t have to morph, then we would give them something a little bit looser and longer. There were lots of Levi’s, American Eagle, Old Navy. Quite honestly, I tried to shop where I figured the wolves would shop. [Laughs] So we went to Wal-Mart. The general concept was that anytime they went off to hunt, those shorts got destroyed because they’d change into a wolf. So they all had a secret little stash, buried in a hole somewhere in the forest, where they went running naked. [Laughs] That’s what we imagined. They had an unlimited selection of cut-off pants.
And did you or did you not pay special attention to where the sleeves of Jacob’s T-shirts fell on his biceps? Because job well done.
Absolutely. Everything was geared towards making sure that his arm muscles really showed. There’s a scene where he’s working on a motorcycle, and his muscles are really pulling against this plaid shirt he’s wearing. He looks very strong and very built, and we tried to do the same with this T-shirts. There was no way since it was the same actor that we could show somebody that had grown like six inches. So it was Chris Weitz’s genius idea to tailor his clothes, to make the sleeves a little bit shorter, a little bit tighter — make it look as if he’d grown out of his clothes in a couple of months and hadn’t had time to go get new ones. We found T-shirt brands that fit him well with hardly any adjustments and just stuck with those in earth tones — The Gap, Banana Republic, American Apparel, Levi’s. We tried more expensive T-shirts, but he looked too pretty.
Tell me about dressing the Volturi.
I knew that one scene involved the painting somewhere in the 1700s coming to life and them walking into their chamber to don their robes. It was really important to get the right shape and to ensure the audience that they were judicial robes because they are sitting in judgment. I did a lot of research into judicial gowns, I looked at a lot of religious paintings from the 1300s and 1400s. For each of the three prime Volturi — Aro [Michael Sheen], Caius [Jamie Campbell Bower], and Marcus [Christopher Heyerdahl] — we made the gowns the same shape in a black wool bouclé, but with different trims.
Is there any significance to Caius’ scarf?
It looked pretty. [Laughs] It was described in the script that Aro was wearing a suit and it was the blackest of blacks because there’s a color palette power structure and the most powerful is the blackest. So I wanted to still have elements of black on Caius, but break them up a bit so Aro would appear blackest of all. There was so much gray and pale stone in that Volturi chamber that I wanted to bring some of the red element from the religious festival outside into play in the interior. But it was also just a beautiful texture, a paisley wool pashmina-type shawl that I grabbed in Little India.
Let’s talk about the ladies. Rosalie and Alice?
There wasn’t much chance in New Moon to go into the backstory of Rosalie, but she has graduated from high school. You only see her at home, and at home, she can dress exactly how she wants. Harking back to the era that she came from, one of the icons that [Nikki Reed] and I discussed was Veronica Lake. Sensual, glamorous, tieing in with the blond hair. Alice, of course, is still a high school student and she had a very successful fashion-y look from Twilight, so we wanted to continue with that. We wanted things that looked cute and feminine on her, paying more attention to detail with the little swing coat, arm warmers, and a scarf at her neck. To me, all of this was an aide of covering up parts of her body that could potentially sparkle. When she was going to Italy, I just had in my mind Audrey Hepburn. You have this woman driving this Porsche, which was originally supposed to be a convertible, so I wanted a beautiful scarf around her head, big sunglasses, little capris. When I mentioned this whole Audrey Hepburn look to Ashley [Greene], she said, “Ohmygod, she’s my icon!” The funniest thing I saw was Ashley standing next to her stunt double on the cobbled streets of Montepulciano, in Italy, both dressed identically. She looking beautiful, pale and pixie-like, wearing her headscarf, red gloves and Michael Kors jacket, and the stunt double the same, but with a generous Roman nose, and a heavy 5 o’clock shadow. Too funny.
What was your vision for Bella’s look?
I think that the previous designer really successfully captured the essence of this girl who was a little bit misplaced and ill-prepared coming from Arizona to the Pacific Northwest. I wanted to continue the look that she was a very practical girl. She didn’t dress to entice, she threw on a jacket if the weather was cold, she layered up because she probably gets colder than the average girl from that area. In discussions with Kristen [Stewart], she also wanted to look a little bit more mature and put together. At the beginning of the film, when she’s happy and in love with Edward, she wanted to be linked colorwise to his world, the cool tones. When he leaves her, she kinda falls into disarray and gets sloppy and just throws on any old thing. But the any old things that we threw on her were in the earth tones [of Jacob’s world]. We didn’t bring back her cool color palette until she was encountering Edward again.
What piece of Bella’s New Moon clothing do you expect everyone to want?
There’s a green shirt from Boy by Band of Outsiders that she wears at the end of the film in Italy that a lot of people seem to like.
In the end, which character did you take the biggest risk with?
Laurent. Chris wanted both Lauren and Victoria more elegant, less rock ‘n roll. Laurent had a leather jacket and really cool pants and was barefoot, and I put him in a suit and cool shoes. [Laughs] We made the suit, but I would say my inspiration for Laurent would have been Alexander McQueen. And I didn’t go as far as I wanted to go. There was this incredible mohair long plaid coat down to the ground, but it was too risky. It was going to end up looking too campy. The point with these bad vamps is that they are scavengers, so they will just put on their most recent acquisition. So he just found somebody with a really cool suit in downtown Seattle. [Laughs]
Last question: What can you tease about the costumes in Eclipse?
We go back to the 1700s and do a complete Quileute tribe. I had to go to museums and pour over clothing that was dug up from burial sites, and I went into diaries of sailors to read what their first encounters were with the Indians on the Pacific Northwest coast. Then we did vampires from the Civil War era, then we did the 1930s, then we did our contemporary world, then we did fantasy Volturi flying over on a jet to Forks, Washington. Then we did an army of vampire newborns. It’s pretty cool stuff.
Photo credit: Kimberley French