Sofia Coppola’s “Marie Antoinette” is an opulent and lush film that is still delighting eyes 15 years later. And a large part of the glamour comes from Milena Canonero’s Oscar-winning costumes. In a new oral history published via Vogue, Canonero, director Sofia Coppola, and the rest of the cast and crew discussed everything including the costume design.
Before embarking on the costumes themselves Canonero discussed how Coppola brought her a box of Ladurée macarons. The delightful macarons weren’t just a gift for the project they were about to embark on, but were meant to inspire the color palette for the film. Coppola explained that she meant a long time at the Costume Institute at the Met to look at dresses from Marie Antoinette’s historical period, taking note of how vibrant they were in comparison to the more muted paintings.
Because Coppola had already spent so much of her life in Paris, Canonero saw the opportunity to create a completely fresh canvas. “Milena and I would just play around with different fabrics and ideas. I was trying on so many dresses that would end up going to other characters as she figured out what looked best for Marie,” said star Kirsten Dunst. “Everything was a very delicate collaboration, and Milena was really open to what I had to say. For the scene after Marie’s child has died, I wore a pale-blue dress and I suggested that I wear a red ribbon around my waist that made it look like I’d been cut in half.”
Because of the budget, all the principle actors had costumes made specifically for the feature, but Canonero was able to bring in some pieces from the film that got her her first Academy Award, 1976’s “Barry Lyndon.” One such costume ended up on actress Rose Byrne, who played Yolande de Polastron, the Duchess of Polignac in the film. For Byrne it was an opportunity to connect with the previous wearer. “I wore a few costumes that Marisa Berenson wore in Barry Lyndon, which tickled me. Marisa was also once an ‘It girl’ of her time, so to be wearing her costumes for Sofia’s movie felt very special,” she said.
You can read the complete oral history of “Marie Antoinette” over at Vogue.