My Interview With FS Darker/Freed Costumer Shay Cunliffe
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Costume Designer Shay Cunliffe was the head Costume Director for Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed. She worked directly with Production Designer Nelson Coates on bringing a complete updated look to the two movies following the first in the trilogy Fifty Shades of Grey. During the filming of the movies it was easy to see the change with Dakotas “Ana” and Jamie’s “Christian”. Subtle changes were also seen on the sets and locations filmed for the movies.
When I had the opportunity to ask Shay questions about the movies she shared with me these changes, and also confirmed to me some of the changes I saw and heard about during filming for the movies. I was lucky to speak to her several times in Vancouver BC during filming and again in LA at the FS Darker premiere. Here is what she shared with me recently at the Fifty Shades Darker NYC Event.
She began her work a month before filming started working with Nelson Coates. She gathered clothing for the cast to use from several stores. She likes to use mostly local costume talent when filming and did so in Vancouver BC. She likes to hire true costumers to work for her because they have the talent and can make decisions and they also can work with the order and flow of the work. She commented that no matter the size of the movie or project the costuming process is always the same. She has worked on several TV shows and movies in her career.
Before filming began she initially met with Dakota in NYC to try out several different outfits. She said it was like a big puzzle putting together her outfits and accessories. Most of her costumes were purchased items.
We talked a lot about the change of colors for Fifty Shades Darker/Freed and she said that the colors for FSOG were very gray and thought Christian looked older than his age. She brought in the new warm colors to make Christian look more youthful, relaxed and less rigid. She also mentioned that Jamie had continued to workout throughout the filming and his biceps were growing larger. She had to have his custom made shirts remade because the arms of the shirts became too small for him to wear.
Ana’s look for Darker became more sleek and polished. She tried to show her growing in adulthood and becoming more aware of her body. For Freed Ana is dressed as the publisher she becomes at her work. She is seen in more business attire in Freed. She purposely put her in the black slim skirt she wears to work with the white tie blouse to add some femininity to her look.
Christians Silver tie from FSOG is gone in FS Darker and Freed. She didn’t bring it over from FSOG because she thought it looked to “old” and stodgy on him. At the wedding in FREED Christian was seen wearing a bow tie with his tuxedo.
Christians closet in Escala: When she first went to see his closet the suits were hanging with different hem lengths. She had them corrected so that they would all be the same length. She provided a few pieces that were to be used in filming, but otherwise she didn’t work on the closets. The set designers worked on filling the closets for the movie.
For Anas closet in Escala she brought in a few of the costume pieces that are seen throughout the movie.
The silver dress that Ana wears for the Masquerade Ball is made by Monique Lhuillier and she had 3 of the same dresses made to use. For several of the costume pieces she had multiple copies.
While preparing for the Masquerade Ball she had a crew of 12 costumers working with her. They brought in costumes from LA, Toronto and Italy. They then embellished them all and they made their own head pieces to match all the costumes. The gown for Marcia “Grace” was made by a designer at Universal.
Did you notice in one of the behind the scene videos that Christian is wearing a torn T-shirt when he returns to Escala from the Charlie Tango crash. She did not plan for the torn shirt. It was done by someone on set at filming. The costumer on set that day did not like the idea and but they tried it anyway. It was taken out for the final film.
She wanted Jamie to wear the leather jacket in the helicopter and after in the elevator when he returns to Escala, but it was too heavy to work with inside the helicopter.
I had heard at the filming of the wedding that Ana’s wedding dress for FREED was all fitted lace. I had the chance to ask Shay about it and she confirmed that the information I had was correct. The FREED wedding dress for Ana is all very fitted lace. She returned to Monique Lhuillier in LA for their designs with the wedding dress. She visited with them and when they showed her samples, she found them too ornate and sparkly. She wanted the dress to be simple, elegant and fitted to Dakota. The final dress is very fitted, all lace with buttons down the back. She did a fitting with Dakota the night before the filming and was worried about the fit because there was no room for changes. It fit her perfectly. During the fitting she had taken photos with Dakota and later they had to be deleted for secrecy. The filming of the wedding was under tight security.
Yellow bikini: For Ana’s yellow string tie bikini she had not bought it earlier and was online ordering it in France. She bought several bikinis but they were of different sizes. The stunt woman for Dakota in France ended up wearing the one that was larger and Dakota had the smallest one. She loved that it had the ties and thought it was very sexy.
I asked if designers offered clothing for the films and she said not really. She went to Monique Lhuillier for the silver dress and then returned to the designer for the wedding dress. For Christian they used more casual clothing and only one of the suits from the first movie.
Thank you to Shay Cunlife for sharing with me some of the costume background with the filming of the movies. You can see more from her on the Target DVD/Blu Ray bonus disc under Darker Costumes.
You can see more from the event here.
Here are few photos of Shay Cunliffe on set filming in Vancouver BC: