Summer blockbuster X-Men: The Last Stand is the quintessential collaborative picture. On the visual effects side it boasts eye-popping, complex sequences crafted at houses such as Soho VFX, Framestore CFC, CIS Hollywood, Rhythm & Hues, New Deal Studios, Kleiser-Walczak, Hydraulx, Lola Visual Effects, The Moving Picture Co., Cinesite and Weta Digital. Shots were lensed by cinematographers Philippe Rousselot and Dante Spinotti. Other team members included production designer Ed Verraux, makeup department Rosalina Da Silva and her team (including Matthew Mungle, profiled in Below the Line’s Shop Talk, May, 2006), sound designer Craig Henighan, sound effects editor Yann Delpuech, and editors Mark Goldblatt, Mark Helfrich and Julia Wong.Tying all these crafts together are the costumes of Judianna Makovsky, whose work breathes life and veracity into the film’s diverse cast of characters. For X-Men 3 (as the film is also called), as for her many other projects, she continued in her basic process for designing costumes by conferring with the director, and often with the production designer and DP. “All projects begin for me with research” said Makovsky.“This research doesn’t necessarily mean an exact representation of the period or character,” she continued. “For Harry Potter I looked at everything from renaissance paintings to South American Surrealist paintings. I ask, ‘What is the world that these characters live in?’”In the actual construction of the costumes, Makovsky relies on prototypes, sketches and even artwork to get the nuances of color as well as textures of fabrics. “For The Legend of Bagger Vance I showed Robert (Redford) some obscure American Impressionist landscapes to show how the colors in the shadows could translate to the clothing palette on the golf courses,” she said. “Robert was a painter and art student, so I knew he would understand, but I don’t think I could do that with a lot of directors. Other directors, like Gary Ross, love to look at extensive research with me, as well as the more esoteric references.”All costume designers rely on artisans and specialists to help with obscure and unique costuming, and Makovsky is no different. When asked who she used on X-Men 3 and other key films, Makovsky hesitated. “Well, of course we have our secret weapons! All I can say is that there are some remarkable specialists worldwide, and I use different people on different projects. To be honest, I am happy to share that information only with close friends and designers I admire.”The look of the costumes for X-Men 3 is decidedly un-period, and Makovsky made it a point to steer clear of kitsch futuristic or too fantasy-like renderings. When costuming contemporary pieces, clothing can always be found readily. Period and fantasy films need planning, construction and adapting. “The X-Men films,” she said, “are grounded in today’s world, and that makes it difficult to reconcile comic characters with a reality-based theme. The X-World was already established by the director Bryan Singer and his designer Louise Mingenbach, and the decision was made not to stray from that look for the third. It was much more difficult to do Harry Potter, which is fantasy based, and I had to completely start from scratch and figure out what the world would be.”Currently Makovsky is costume designer on psychological thriller Mr. Brooks starring Kevin Costner and Demi Moore, filming in Louisiana.
Written by April MacIntyre