Vive la Fantine!

Les Miserables was a massive cinematic undertaking by director Tom Hooper, as well as his costume designer Paco Delgado.  The famous story was written by Victor Hugo in 1862, and became a famous stage musical that ran for sixteen years in New York (which this editor was lucky enough to see on Broadway, during a class trip, before it closed in 2003).  Les Miserables tells the very sad tale of overlapping characters over a generation in 19th-century France.  Anne Hathaway (pictured, below left) plays a factory worker forced into the streets (and prostitution) to feed her daughter, Cosette, who has been sent to live with another family.  Hugh Jackman plays Jean Valjean (pictured, top left), a former criminal, who eventually cares for the young girl, while he’s stalked by his lifelong nemesis, Javert, a miscast Russell Crowe (pictured, top right).  The stunning portraits Vogue took of the actors in their costumes are a beautiful tribute to the film.  Seeing Hathway as the young mother Fantine, before taking to the streets, in a purplish pink dress, compared to her daughter’s profile, played by Amanda Seyfried, in similar periwinkle (pictured, above right) is somewhat melancholy.  She never gets to see her daughter grown-up, and well-cared for.  According to Cristina Everett of the Daily News, “Though set during a time of death and despair, the film’s musical element allowed Delgado to play with color and texture. The pink dress worn by Fantine (Anne Hathaway) during the factory scene was chosen to make her appear as an outsider, as well as to show a stark visual contrast against the other workers’ dull blue uniforms.”  Costume designer Paco Delgado told Entertainment Weekly, “Fantine was originally a seamstress and had nice clothes in the past, but now she doesn’t have any money.  So Anne was very keen on the idea that her costumes would have a lot of mending, like they were old and mended by her character.”  I think the character’s transition from pale pink in the factory to a prostitute in shocking red rags (pictured, above) demonstrates her transition from an innocent girl to a woman destroyed by the harsh world.  Everett of the Daily News added, “To accurately tell the story of poverty stricken Paris during the 19th century, Spanish designer Paco Delgado created 1,500 new costumes – out of a total of over 2,000 – only to destroy them with mud, grease, sand and blowtorches.  He also combed through flea markets and secondhand stores in France and Spain to find authentic clothing of the time.”  While it seems everyone is suffering, Fantine’s child, Cosette, seems to be doing pretty well compared to her compatriots, including her romantic rival, Éponine, played by Samantha Barks (pictured, above left).  We don’t get what Marius (Eddie Redmayne) was thinking… we’d take that Irish cutie any day!  Especially after her incredible rendition of On My Own (anyone else think of Joey Potter singing it on Season One of Dawson’s Creek?)  While everyone seems to be in rags, Cosette gets to sport some beautiful floral frocks, including her silk nightgown (pictured, above right), and her soft yellow and lilac frock (pictured, below).  Cosette seems to wear a considerable amount of floral, lace, pastels, embroidery, and ribbons, probably to indicate her girlhood and blossoming into a young woman; we likes the bitches in rags better.  Hehe.  What’s impressive about Delgado’s work is that while other costume designers vying for the Academy Award usually compete by making the most beautiful costumes, his creations are rough and distressed, much like the characters who wear them.  It makes his Oscar nomination all the more impressive.  Everett of the Daily News also brought up the interesting point of how Delgado worked the national colors of France into the costumes, “The colors of the French flag were a common theme used throughout the film, with blue used in the factory scene, red for the revolution and then white for the wedding and nunnery scenes.”  Paco Delgado is creative and considerate of the story he’s telling.  We “dreamed a dream” of his talents being rewarded.  Best of luck Mr. Delgado!