The costumes of the series 'The Island' are as emotionally charged as the story itself. That's because most of them are real vintage items, existing way before the story was told. Part of what makes this new series a masterpiece, is the effort put to gather these precious bits of history that should later on be placed at a costume museum, no doubt.
All credit for the very special work goes to:
Costumes Supervisor Maria Kontodima
Costumes Designer Xanthi Kontou
Assistant Costumes Designer Marli Aleiferi
Dressers Foteini Papastefanou & Christina Tsoutsouligka Here's the huge storage space the costumes were kept at, at Elounda's school yard. An impossible giant closet, square metres of fashion history. Costume design team's work doesn't stop at getting the goods in one space. Past time series require special handling, like adding the marks of time, getting those gems realistically dirty to match the scenes' conditions yet keeping them in perfect shape for the actors. A movie is not just what you see, but also what you see if you look closer.
Costumes Designer Xanthi Kontou and Assistant Costumes Designer Marli Aleiferi were kind enough to talk about this truly unique and of international standards project:
How many costumes travelled to Crete, how much preparation was needed and how many people participated in the process?
Xanthi Kondou: We shipped 2.000 outfits which took eight months of extensive research to put together. Overall, the various stages from Costume Design to Dressing, was carried out by a team of five. All costumes were created based on tradition archives and some were selected from private collectors’ original garments.
What is special about these costumes and where should the audience focus throughout the series?
Xanthi Kondou: We aimed to achieve balance and harmony between the colours of the environment, Spinalonga and those of the clothes. We paid special attention to the conservatism of the era, something obvious in the clothes of women. We also worked our best to recreate regional style with elements of the traditional Cretan men’s attire (boots, pants, etc.)
There are many semiological details helping the viewers follow the plot, for example, the crosses around the little girls’ necks (Anna & Maria) is what links them later on to their adult years.
To what extent is costume important in such a big production and why?
Marli Aleiferi: It is vital to project the mood and overall atmosphere. You only have seconds to make the audience familiarize with the main characters and the image must communicate the role clearly and accurately in order to achieve a quick engagement.
Semiology is also crucial in order to have the viewer hooked, subconsciously getting the clues we aim to get across. The costume design department reads every line of the script just like the actors and works closely with the director for perfect close ups and powerful frames.
What is a good and what a tough moment for the costumes team during filming?
Marli Aleiferi: A tough moment is when you have to shoot a scene involving numerous extras, that have to fit the theme perfectly and at the same time have a visually balanced and realistic result. None is meant to stand out, other than the protagonists. Getting an immaculate result in limited time is challenging. So is making sure there are no goofs, i.e. if the actor wears a ring on the left finger in a scene, it has to be on the same spot during the next ones too.
A good moment is each and every time a scene is successfully complete. Thankfully we’ve had plenty and you’ll get to watch them all.
Congrats to everyone for the wonderful job, for bringing all these items to light and all 150-something characters to life through clothes. A strong reminder that attire is a big part of our herritage and should not be neglected. Next Monday, watch 'The Island', see the pictures, but read the costumes.