I couldn’t be more excited. Today the film version of the musical I love more than any other opens at cinemas nationwide. After 28 years on the stage, Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg’s Les Misérables has been turned into a motion picture starring Hugh Jackman as Victor Hugo’s protagonist Jean Valjean, and I’ve bought my tickets. For every night next week.
Musicals are my thing as my mother Carole raised us primarily on a diet of Rodgers and Hammerstein and Kander and Ebb, so we were word perfect on Carousel and Chicago long before we could read.
With that kind of training, learning Herbert Kretzmer’s lyrics for Les Misérables was a morceau de gâteau and the classic anthem One Day More still makes the hairs on my arm stand on end. To think that the show almost foundered when it first opened and critics dubbed it “The Glums”.
But what’s all this got to do with fashion? Well, quite a bit in my opinion. For one thing, it gives a dash of street cred to my ageing “24601” T-shirt. That’s Jean Valjean’s prison number and it currently adorns everything from vests to shopping totes at cafepress.com where they are hoping to attract fans.
I’ve always been a sucker for a movie slogan sweatshirt, but more interestingly I like to see how the high street interprets a big-screen hit.
For the translation of Les Mis from stage to screen, director Tom Hooper was most insistent that costume designer Paco Delgado showcased clothes, not costumes for the characters.
Drawing his inspiration from the artists Delacroix and Francisco de Goya, Delgado had to make clothes that reflected the styles worn throughout the story’s 33-year span, and tailors from England, Italy, France, and Spain were used to produce approximately 2,200 costumes, many of which were for the movie’s hordes of beggars.
‘’We had to make the costumes and then destroy them to make them look old, like they had been worn for 10 years,’’ says Delgado. ‘’We used chemical processes like bleaching and fading, then mechanical processes like sanding or making holes. We had to recreate very quickly what would happen to a garment over years.”
Now even I, who have dressed like Annie Hall, Daisy Buchanan and Morticia Adams, believe that the “beggar look” is not the way to go, but there are many looks that make The Glums worth emulating. With Inspector Javert, played by Russell Crowe, we get bang-on trend funnel neck coats, military jackets and boots.
Even Sacha Baron Cohen, who plays the Master of the House, has gone military and his jacket has its own backstory. “We decided that he probably stole it during one of the Napoleonic Wars and then pretended he had been an officer,’’ Delgado explains.
Of course it’s all about interpretation and though tragic Fantine (Anne Hathaway) isn’t a natural fashion icon, Delgado dressed her in cornflower blue and as her story unfolds, put her in clingy fabrics and airbrushed the sides of the costumes darker to make her look thinner.
The real wardrobe inspiration In Les Mis is provided by Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) with her embellished gowns and delicate hair accessories, and urban warrior Eponine (Samantha Barks) who wears slouchy suede boots, laced shirt and ragged hems. For Cosette-style clothing, I discovered 59 Strings (59strings.com), a bespoke boutique fashion company where Japanese designer Luna Sky is creating eveningwear worthy of the spotlight.
Meanwhile at Joe Browns (joebrowns.co.uk), a little known lifestyle company in Yorkshire, they have nailed the laid- back Eponine look with their boots, tunics and longline coats that will take you through the colder months and into spring.
So that’s you dressed Glum style. Now, after three: “At the end of the day, you’re another day older…”