Every so often a film comes along that reminds me why film, not fashion, is my first and greatest love. Even less often comes along a film that beautifully and subtly combines the two. Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan seems to have captured the hearts of young women everywhere.
What is it about dancing films that attract women to them so? From fluff like Center Stage and Dirty Dancing, to darker films like The Red Shoes and now Black Swan, we’re totally drawn to them.
The Costume & Make-Up Designs
Featuring costumes by Rodarte, and make-up by Margie Durand and Judy Chin, Black Swan promises to be too visually compelling to ignore… from the moment I saw these, Mardi Gras and Halloween costumes have been floating around in my head.
When this question and answer session from Black Swan Make-up Dept. Head Margie Durand and Make-up Designer Judy Chin crossed my mail box I couldn’t resist… while I typically don’t go for press releases, I found this interview to be too compelling not to share. The theatrical side to film making holds a special place in my heart and I hope you find this as interesting as I did!
Q: Can you give a step by step explanation as to how the Black Swan look was created as well as the products that were used?
Margie: We applied a pale ivory foundation with a white cream highlight on the forehead and cheekbones. To create the swan eyes, we used M·A·C Chromaline in Black Black. Using M·A·C Pigment in Silver combined with Mixing Medium, we applied feathery brushstrokes over the Black Swan’s eyes. The lips were lined with M·A·C Lip Pencil in Vino and topped with M·A·C lipstick in Dubonnet. We then lined the under eye with a thin line using M·A·C Chromaline in Red.
Q: Does the makeup have any relation to the makeup in the traditional version of the Swan Lake ballet?
Judy: Not really. The ensemble dancers wear what might be considered a traditional theatrical eye makeup, but our rendition is more dramatic. It’s practically an opera makeup. Besides that, the only other relation might be that we did portray the Black Swan as a sinister dark foil to the more angelic and innocent Swan Queen.
Q: The ballerinas’ performance makeup in the movie is especially dramatic and visually arresting. What inspired the dark romantic makeup look?
Judy: The look was inspired by the story, and by the director, Darren Aronofsky I felt that he was looking for something dramatic and visually striking, so all of the intensity was focused in the eyes. Margie Durand realized that there were elements of our beautiful set design that should play a role in our makeup. Thus, the delicate silver branches that played across the swan’s faces came to be. The ensemble swans and the Swan Queen are delicate and romantic with a soft pink lip color, whereas the Black Swan is dark, sharp, and, angular.
Q: A ballerina has an incredibly active job, and in Black Swan, the characters wear both body and face makeup. What products did you use in the film that you were certain would hold up to the lights, movement and perspiration?
Judy: We used Mehron pancake makeup with a spray sealant to ensure that it wouldn’t rub off on the costumes. We also used M·A·C Paint Pots, M·A·C Powerpoint Eye Pencils, and M·A·C Pigments. In addition, we applied the Illustrator Palettes by Premier Products, which are alcohol based pigments that are virtually water proof and rub proof. On the fingertips, we used tattoo inks by Skin Illustrator by Premier Products.
Q: What challenges did you face when designing and applying the makeup?
Margie: It was a challenge to makeup the Black Swan as the White Swan and then switch back to Black Swan during the long filming days. Both makeups had to be retouched because of the strenuous dancing for the close-up shots.
Judy: It would have been a huge problem if any of the makeup rubbed off onto the costumes, so we had to do many tests before we came up with the right combination of products – especially for the hands. The only other challenge was conveying to our team the application techniques, as it really was an operatic style of makeup. The shaping of the eyes and painting the whole eye in cake makeup is unusual for modern makeup artists. Most people are a bit intimidated by pancake makeup and they dismiss it as “old fashioned,” but it can be really beautiful if done properly. In the end, the whole team worked really hard and did a stunning job.
Q: How can the everyday woman translate the dramatic Black Swan makeup into an evening look?
Judy: There are a lot of aspects to this makeup that are standard elements for a classic beauty makeup. The highlights and contours along the cheekbones, nose, jaw line, and the pout of the mouth can all be adapted to a contemporary makeup. I also think one could incorporate the dramatic eyeliner – the angles and the intensity – into a very seductive, catlike smoky eye.
Margie: Think 1920’s vamp makeup: create the smoky Black Swan eyes with slender, silver eye liner applied under black wingtip liner and add thin wisps of silver liner over the eyelid, too. Rim the waterline with black liner and top it off with full, feathery false eyelashes. Apply a very matte foundation with contoured cheekbones and a hint of shimmery blush on apple of cheeks. Lips can be matte or glossy in dark eggplant, wine and even black colours!
The International Poster Designs
How can you not love a film that treats every aspect of the process as art? The Black Swan international film posters that came out are really works of art on their own. With multiple versions, I’m horribly disappointed we won’t be seeing these in our local theatres (not to mention, very disappointed that we don’t live in a culture that supports this kind of artwork being shown at movie theatres!).
I’m keeping my eyes open for print releases of these– I’d collect them on and put them on display in my house. They’re so stunning, each telling a different side of the story.
Edit: The Black Swan international posters are available in 11×17 and 24×40 at MoviePosterShop.com– I only had the funds to get 2 of them, so if you guys sell them out, I may cut you.
When a film is so tightly designed as this one has been, it’s really hard to imagine it’ll totally suck… and even if it did, I think it’s created such a strongly defined image for itself that anyone would love it simply for the striking visuals.
Have you seen Black Swan yet? Did you love it, hate it? Are you anxious to see it?