Browse all

How does a "Joker" dress?

"Why so serious?"

How does a Joker dress? Why so serious?

The new "Joker" movie starring Joaquin Phoenix and directed by Todd Phillips is finally in cinemas. The images from the Joker played by the actor, three times nominated for the Academy seem not to regret the performance of Heath Ledger in 2008.
The psychological complexity and magnetism towards evil won Ledger an Oscar in 2009, generating a unique fascination around the clown of Gotham City, a hypnotic figure and the perfect embodiment of the Hollywood cinema anti-hero. The fanaticism around the character, which resulted in the "Aurora Massacre".
At the preview of "The Dark Knight Returns" in 2012, 24-year-old student James Holmes shot at the crowd at Century 16 Movie Theater (Aurora, Colorado) killing 12 people and wounding 58.
The disguise and red-dyed hair of James Holmes on the day of the shooting are a sign of how the fascination around the character of the saga revolves around his aesthetic. In the new film produced by Warner Bros and in the shots of Phillips this element returns to be central, an exterior mirror of a personality in some ways more complex than the pasts.

The origins of the character of Joker come from the novel by Victor Hugo "The man who laughs", which arrived in cinemas for the first time in 1928. The figure of the Villain as we know it appeared on the big screens in 1940 and from that moment underwent revisitations of different kinds, like the one in the animated film "LEGO Batman" by Zach Galifianakis, or the vocal recitation of Mark Hamill in the cartoon series "Batman", broadcast in the mid-90s. Regarding TV series, other interpretations of Joker are those of Cesar Romero in the 60s and Cameron Monaghan, in the recent Fox / Warner series "Gotham". One of the most loved by fans is that of Jack Nicholson, in the "Batman" directed by Tim Burton in 1989, very different from that of Jared Leto in "Suicide Squad"

Compared to the uneven purple and green look and the upset make-up designed for Ledger by costume designer Lindy Hamming, the Joker dressed by Mark Bridges - double Academy award winner with the Phantom Thread and The Artist - seems to have different personalities and characteristics, consistent with a plot more psychological than that of The Dark Knight.
The story of the outcast Arthur Fleck is not that of Nolan's murderer. His progressive descent into madness is accompanied by 80s looks and by the clown make-up that masks the fake smile, made by Nicki Lederman, MUA also used for The Devil Wears Prada and Sex and the City. The costume designer in discussing the wardrobe explained some of her choices.

"To be faithful, let's say 1981, it was necessary to use a certain range of shades and colour combinations available in the shops of that time. But only by drawing on this color palette can one automatically feel in another age, because they are shades not visible in the shops Right now".

Mark Bridges explained how the looks are designed to best represent the gestures of the character, working on the silhouette, the physicality and the movements, inspired by the moves of Charlie Chaplin. One of the tricks to interpret the clumsiness and insecurity of the character was to insert small elements of vanity and stereotypes of the role of the clown, such as the bowler hat.
The choice of the Joker garments in the Arthur Fleck version has instead been simplified, to leave room for a more powerful interpretation.

He is very much a John Q.Public, which aims more at practicality than at style. He wears comfortable clothes, and it shows that he has had them for a long time, and he has a vague childlike appearance, alternating with that of an elderly person. Bridges said.

For the costume that definitively transforms Arthur into Joker, the biggest challenge was not to distort the image built in the previous films, but to create an organic solution with the new plot. Bridges uses blue, brown, mauve, gray, navy and khaki, moving away from burnt orange and the greens of the 70s. The rust-colored suit and the green shirt seem worn by Joker as decomposition and reassembly of those worn with shyness by Arthur Fleck.

I started from the beginning, from the comedy club, to arrive at the final result. The suit fully reflected the 70s with a slightly longer line, while he took on strange and sinuous security that did not belong to Arthur, but at the Joker. For me, it was satisfying 

In all US cinemas it has been forbidden to paint faces and carry toy weapons during the film's projection. A security decision that was taken after the letter written to Warner Bros by 5 families of the victims of Aurora's massacre. For the preview, the AMC Theater, the largest US cinema company said it had collaborated with law enforcement agencies, as well as other cinemas across the nation.
The film and personality of Joker is a unique example of involvement and fascination of evil, an indispensable element of a large portion of Hollywood's cinematography, triggered as in few cases, in the history of recent cinema, by costumes and by their overly expressive value.