It’s definitely been a while since my last post but I was extremely tied up finishing my final semester of school. Now that I’ve graduated, I have much more time to dedicate to these lovely costume reviews I’ve started (I find them so fun!)
In an extremely long overdue post I’m finally going to share my thoughts about Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel, since that was a movie I knew I would want to review the moment I saw the costumes. This was also the perfect excuse to watch the movie again, since it’s an absolute delight. The costume designer of this film was Milena Canonero, who herself has an impressive repertoire with gorgeous films such as Marie Antoinette and A Clockwork Orange.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is set in one of Wes Anderson’s fictional worlds and from what I gathered periodically I would place it somewhere between WW1 and WW2 (let’s say the 30s.) The story tells the tale of Gustave H, the hotel’s most prestigious concierge and his bellboy, Zero Moustafa. Zero is actually telling the story to a young writer who visits the worn-down hotel in the late 60s, so most of the movie takes place in the form of flashbacks. The story revolves around the theft of an extremely expensive Renaissance painting and a family inheritance, in which Gustave and Zero get wrapped up in.
The Grand Budapest Hotel compared to my previous review of the black and white Sin City is the polar opposite; it’s packed with so many gorgeous colours and details that one simply cannot look away. Wes Anderson uses these colours to signify the good vs evil concept in the movie, allowing those with more prestige and power to have more elaborate colours.
Gustave H, the hotel’s concierge, is presented to us as a man with utmost dignity and confidence. For most of the movie he is seen in the hotel’s reigning colour for all its employees: purple. Being of the highest ranking than his associates however, his uniform has more details on it. He wears a purple tailcoat with a notched lapel, and a red velvet bow tie around his neck, and everything looks absolutely pristine. He clearly runs a tight operation and anyone who sees him can tell he is in charge. One interesting detail on his lapel is a little emblem called The Society of the Crossed Keys. This is an emblem worn by all prestigious hotel concierges who help each other in times of need. I ended up asking my boyfriend if this in fact was real, since he worked as a concierge for many years, and lo and behold, it still exists these days. The emblem also separates him from his work comrades, since nobody in the hotel has one but him.
Gustave’s costume changes once more when he is taken prisoner at a criminal internment camp. He wears typical drab prison garb, with horizontal stripes and and their prison number stitched on the side. Although the movie takes place before WW2, the costumes bore a striking resemblance to those worn by the Jewish who were taken prisoners during the Second World War. Horizontal stripes are given to those without power and as there is no colour , these people aren’t prisoners of life but also of any sort of creativity. The grey and white is the most mundane colour combination and a far cry from the purple of Gustave’s uniform. This definitely speaks to Anderson’s clever use of colour as a means to show honour and dignity.
While we’re still at the prison, we also get a good look at the soldiers running the whole operation. Again, these costumes are gray and show a lack of creativity and prestige, unlike the purple of The Grand Budapest. The costumes also bare a striking resemblance to those of Kaiser Wilhelm’s 3rd Reich army, and periodically that makes a lot of sense.
Back at the hotel, Gustave’s bell boy and unofficial partner in crime, Zero, has a very similar uniform himself, but of course lacking the emblem worn by Gustave. His uniform looks almost military-esque, possibly giving further proof that Gustave runs the whole operation a lot similar to how an army would be run, and Zero and the others are his men. Zero’s uniform still looks just as clean as Gustave’s, however unlike Gustave’s perfectly pressed uniform, Zero’s is wrinkled and you can clearly tell made of not as fine of a quality. On his head he wears a little lobby boy hat, slightly askew, with the words “Lobby Boy” stitched across the front.
Of course this costume review wouldn’t be complete without a little mention of the almost unrecognisable Tilda Swinton’s character, Madame D, an elderly countess. Her costume is inspired by the 20s/early 30s, since she lived through those time periods. Her shoes, multi-strand necklaces and fur coat (which is interestingly enough designed by Fendi) give an air of the 20s, while her elaborate hat speaks to the 30s. Another fun fact: Prada designed her 21-piece luggage set. One can tell automatically this is a woman of great luxury and it is with her untimely death that drives our characters into an insane frenzy, egging the story on.
If you haven’t already taken a look at The Grand Budapest Hotel I really suggest you do. I think I can safely say this was one of my favourite movies of the year and is one you simply can’t grow tired of. The rich detail Anderson puts in all of his movies make them such a gem to watch and this film is no exception.