Denise Villeneuve’s “dune” costumes tell a rich story of their own.
Jacqueline West and Bob Morgan have teamed up to create the 1,000 or more looks needed for the three main worlds of cinema: Arakis, Caladan and Gaidi Prime. “For research, I looked at the David Lynn film – ‘Dr. Zhivago,’ ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ – [as well as] ‘Fahrenheit 451,’ “West says. He said he also referred to Greek and Roman mythology because he thought there was a connection between House Atridus and House Harkenen. West said,” It all felt like a kind of real Greek and Roman tragedy. “Other broad inspirations include the art of Goa, Giotto and Caravaggio; the clothing of desert people like Bedouin and Tuareg; the Tarot card; the classic fashion of Balenciaga;
But the focal point of the film, currently on the festival circuit and released on October 22, is “stillsuit”, which is subtly described in Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel “Dun” and is essential for life on the Arakis desert. “I did my first job after doing general research,” West said, adding that he was employed by concept artist Keith Christensen (“Black Panther,” The Batman)) when Villeneuve saw an idea that “really took him away. West took it to Jose Fernandez at Ironhead Studios in LA, where a prototype was built.
They then took everything to Budapest, where the “Dunn” trunk was. Each suit is specifically stated – “Everyone had to cut the actors’ body molds, because the movement of the body theoretically activates the stillsuit and turns it into a distillery.” In both the book and the film, the suits take in human wastewater and turn it into gas, “and then filter it through all the tubing in the suite as a coolant with gauges and regulators. And we put that in the stillsuit.”
The team made West a “micro-sandwich” of acrylic fiber and perforated cotton that removes water from the body and keeps the actors cool in their suits. “When we shot Jordan in the desert, it acted like an underarm,” he says.
West notes that “the way we ran all the tubing through all the layers of the micro-sandwich,” it looks like the suite is actually pumping water. But they also had to make sure the dress was flexible. Each suite took more than two weeks to make in the Budapest workplace. “It was really a great team effort,” West says. “Frank Herbert said that only 15 milliliters of water a day escapes from a person wearing a steel suit, so we had to make it believable that it would.”
Each world also had its own chromatic scheme. The stillsuit remains gray according to the novel and acts almost as a camouflage. The colors of the rocks in the Jordanian desert inspired Western clothing for the desert planet Aracis. The head of the location, Peter Birdsley, when he went to Jordan, was asked by the West to bring back a bottle of stone and sand: “There was a kind of coral, a rose, a peach, a beige tan.” His LA office still has sand and stones.
The West also used painted yards for desert inhabitants Fremen. “I was a fashion designer for Bernie years ago. I did a yard line, and I remember how you can still see human bodies and their shapes and their movements. And I thought, yards change like sand. I painted it so that it became their palette.
Morgan notes that Villeneuve was a powerful collaborator, often pinging at clothing stores to see what was going on. “We were lucky enough to be in the studio literally on the streets of Budapest. And he could just walk, “says Morgan.” He can see the fabric and see the texture. “