West Facet Story’s costume designer on the brand new which means of the remake’s wardrobe


More than six decades since its original release on Broadway is Steven Spielbergs West Side Story hits theaters on December 10th. The Romeo and Juliet-inspired remake takes place in New York City in 1957 and tells the story of two rival gangs – the Sharks, a Latinx group that immigrated from Puerto Rico; and the Jets, a Caucasian group from New York City. The story follows the conflict associated with the two over their struggle to conquer the territory, mixed with a forbidden love story between Puerto Rican-born Maria (Rachel Zegler) and New Yorker Tony (Ansel Eglot).

Costume designed by Tony Award winning designer Paul Tazewell known for his work in Hamilton, In the heights The colour purple, found the experience honorable and inspiring. “I was blown away that I had the opportunity to approach the design at all Westside story “, Tazewell said POPSUGAR. “Because it’s so popular, the musical as Broadway and then the 1961 movie, the pressure was a huge understatement. It was a challenge for me to create a design that stimulates a new kind of response.

“The costume designer for the original 1957 Broadway production created iconic looks that are anchored in our collective psyche. And I wanted to create the same iconic look, but with a new vision. ”

Irene Sharaff, the costume designer for the original 1957 Broadway production, created iconic looks that are anchored in our collective psyche. And I wanted to create the same iconic look, but with a new vision. “The aim of the new vision was to recognize the years that have passed since it was originally conceived and to support Spielberg’s specific storytelling in this version.

To this end, Tazewell began his research with photographs. “It doesn’t matter to me what production or movie it is, I go straight to the sources given for each year and culture that the story is researched in,” Tazewell explained. His research included an in-depth look at photographer Bruce Davidson, who fitted himself into the New York gang community of the 1950s. “I wanted to make sure I got a very authentic look for the gang that felt like New York, not a Hollywood version of New York. I also found tons of pictures of demolished historic cars and started playing with the paint that was rusted and faded. “It was these colors and pictures of New York City that Tazewell approached to create sketches in a field would emerge from gray, steel and concrete.

For the sharks, Tazewell focused on putting the gang on the best clothes in their closets. “The sharks immigrated from Puerto Rico to reshape their lives and to reshape life,” he said. “They were people who had jobs, had families, and their lifestyle was a bit formal because of their association with the Catholic Church.” To do this, he chose tailored pants, shoes that were a bit shrunk, and a warmer color palette that, in his opinion, was more indicative of where they were from and what they wanted to do in New York. “It was very important to me to focus on the choice of clothes that blacks and tans wear to work not only into American culture but also into a great dominance of Caucasian-American culture to fit the time. “

The Sharks were made more formal to be more ambitious than the Jets, and dressed out of a sense of self-respect and respect for their new community. While the jets had a certain nonchalance that suggests being American in New York City. To do this, the jets were styled in blue denim for most of the film to appeal to that type of traditional American fashion.

Of paramount importance to Tazewell was making clothing that would move to do justice to the show’s choreography. “On this production, because it’s a musical full of song and dance, we custom-made a significant amount of clothing so that the clothing could move in a certain way that the choreography dictated. It was a really specific question and things we did would not necessarily be found in rental houses. ” To support him, Tazewell had a tight team of 10-15 clients, buyers, assistants and illustrators who worked directly with him. Apart from that, countless creative people came together all over New York City to dress the 400-500 extras and main characters.

The differences between the original 1957 Broadway, the 1961 remake of the 1961 film, and the 2021 version, Tazewell said, lie in the silhouettes. “In my research, I looked for photos that could suggest what people were actually buying in stores, what was available to them, and most importantly – I was exploring the idea of ​​how people clung to clothes for years,” Tazewell told POPSUGAR . “Older people like Valentina (Rita Moreno) are determined in their look and style and will continue to do so in the years to come. So many of my fashion decisions reflect the time 10 years ago (1947), with the diversity and realism for the streets of New York City, something the first two versions didn’t necessarily have. “

Regarding Tazewell’s favorite scene, the designer referred to “America”: “It was so nice to see how the ensemble danced with all their hearts and made a name for themselves. To see this lush color and how it represents the energy in that moment and hope for a better future was nice. “The dance was not only a symbol of hope, but also Anita’s flowing yellow dress.” Anita is the sun. All of their energy radiates and seeps into everyone around them and brings them hope as well. “

As for the audience, Tazewell aims to give viewers an understanding of both cultures and the role of racism in America. “It comes from my own experience and my knowledge about my parents, my grandparents, my great-grandparents and what it is like for browns and blacks to emigrate,” he reflected. “It’s moving into areas where they’re looking for a new and better life, and the human pursuit (read: hope) that goes with it.

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