The Film’s Most Significant Challenges Revealed by Cyrano’s Costume Designer

This is a story about the “Cyrano”Costume design was first introduced in the Below-the-Line Issue of ’s awards magazine.

The true Cyrano De Bergerac lived in France during the 17th century. The Edmond Rostand play that made him famous began in 1640. Director Joe Wright, however, made the conscious decision to move action up one century for his musical. “Cyrano,”Peter Dinklage stars as the poetic swashbuckler.

“The idea was to re-create Cyrano around the mid-1700s to give the idea of lightness through the costumes,” costume designer Massimo Cantini Parrini said. “The 1600s, while a beautiful period to represent, is very set and rigid. Setting a musical in the 1700s allowed us to make everything light and airy at the same time.”

Parrini achieved that lightness by using delicate and transparent fabrics inspired by watercolors from the 1700s that he’d seen in a museum in Rome. “The colors were so watery and ethereal that I wanted to re-create them through the costumes, using more fabrics one on top of the other, with different colors,”He said.


He used natural fibers like silk and linen as well as fabrics such organza. “delicate but full-bodied at the same time.”He said, “For me, it is very important to maintain the criteria of the costume itself while capturing the essence of the historical period that I have to represent.”

The Film's Most Significant Challenges Revealed by Cyrano's Costume Designer
Costume design for Peter Dinklage’s Cyrano

But Parrini occasionally used costumes that weren’t strictly accurate to the period. “Bringing modernity to a historical language is very important for understanding the costumes,”He said. “It is important for me that the costume is understood even by an audience that knows nothing of the past.”

He had to be aware of the fact that costumes must move with actors, who suddenly became dancers. “I enjoyed using materials that aided me in creating movement,”He said. “For example, it was wonderful to see the soldiers in their rigid uniforms suddenly become light as air during the dance sequences.”

The Film's Most Significant Challenges Revealed by Cyrano's Costume Designer
De Guiche costume sketch

His favorite articles of clothing, though, were the ones he designed for Ben Mendelsohn’s villain, De Guiche, while the most challenging designs were for the nuns in a convent where Cyrano’s longtime secret love, Roxanne, lives after her husband is killed in battle. (Costumes of Roxanne, played in the film by Haley Bennett were designed by Jacqueline Durran.

“The nuns’ costumes were very difficult because I was looking for modernity and antiquity at the same time—they caused me a great deal of suffering!”He said. “The result is beautiful, though, because the nuns are ‘aliens’ of the 1700s, maintaining an authority that the clergy requires.”

You can read more in the Below-the Line Issue here.

Wrap Below-the-Line issue - Dune
Jeff Vespa photo

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