Embracing the Bizarre: ‘Poor Things’ Costumes Take Center Stage at the Barbican Centre

A macabre masterpiece has found its way into the hallowed halls of the Barbican Centre: Yorgos Lanthimos’ unsettling yet strangely captivating film, “Poor Things,” has captivated audiences worldwide, and now, its costume design takes center stage in a captivating exhibition at the London arts hub.

Stepping into the Barbican Gallery is akin to entering a whimsical and unsettling wonderland. On display are the fantastical creations of costume designer Sandy Powell, each garment serving as a tangible manifestation of the film’s bizarre and twisted beauty. At the heart of the exhibition lies the costumes worn by the film’s central characters, played by Emma Stone and Mark Ruffalo, offering a glimpse into the characters’ complex psyches and the film’s unique aesthetic.

Emma Stone’s Bella Baxter: From Victorian Doll to Conquering Queen

Stone’s portrayal of Bella, a Frankenstein-esque creation brought back to life, is brought to life through a series of costumes that mirror her journey from innocent naivety to audacious confidence. Initially, Bella is adorned in delicate, ruffled dresses reminiscent of Victorian dolls, their pastel hues and intricate trims hinting at her manufactured perfection. Yet, as she sheds her societal shackles and embraces her newfound independence, the costumes shift. Bold colors, daring cuts, and unconventional textures take over, culminating in a striking scarlet coat resembling a dissected heart, a powerful symbol of Bella’s reclaimed agency.

Mark Ruffalo’s Dr. Godwin Baxter: A Scientist Unraveled

Ruffalo’s Dr. Baxter, the eccentric scientist and creator of Bella, gets his own sartorial exploration. Initially clad in crisp laboratory coats and tweed jackets, his attire embodies the controlled order he seeks to impose on the world. However, as his experiments spiral out of control and his own sanity fractures, his costumes mirror his descent. Stained with grime, the once-pristine garments become tattered and misshapen, reflecting the chaos that engulfs both his life and his creation.

Beyond the Clothes: Fabricating a World

The exhibition extends beyond the two lead characters, showcasing costumes worn by the supporting cast and even props imbued with symbolic meaning. Grotesquely beautiful jellyfish dresses worn by socialites hint at the film’s critique of societal superficiality, while the intricate prosthetics and animal-inspired outfits further blur the lines between humanity and nature.

A Dialogue with Art and History

The “Poor Things” costume exhibition doesn’t merely showcase sartorial brilliance; it engages in a dialogue with art and history. Victorian fashions are reimagined through a surreal lens, drawing inspiration from artists like Magritte and Dalí. The exhibition also subtly nods to Frankenstein’s legacy, recontextualizing the stitched-together monster through Bella’s journey of self-discovery.

More Than Just Costumes: A Gateway to the Absurd

Visiting the “Poor Things” costume exhibition is not just about admiring beautiful clothes; it’s about immersing oneself in the film’s unique and unsettling universe. The garments act as gateways, transporting viewers into Lanthimos’ bizarre world where boundaries are blurred, beauty and deformity coexist, and societal norms are gleefully subverted.

A Lasting Impact: Beyond the Barbican Walls

While the exhibition may be temporary, its impact will undoubtedly be long-lasting. It pushes the boundaries of costume design, reminding us that clothes can be more than mere adornments; they can be powerful narrative tools, shaping characters, revealing their inner worlds, and inviting audiences into a shared experience of the absurd.

In conclusion, the “Poor Things” costume exhibition at the Barbican Centre is a triumph of imagination and artistry. It offers a visual feast for the senses, challenging perceptions of beauty and normalcy. By delving into the intricate world of Sandy Powell’s creations, we gain a deeper understanding of the film’s characters and themes, ultimately leaving us with a renewed appreciation for the power of costume design to transport us to the surreal and the unsettling.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *