Meet the costume designers of ‘Sing 2’


What should an animated elephant, anthropomorphized like a shy teenage girl with a crush on an ice cream seller, wear on stage as she performs Aretha Franklin’s “I Say a Little Prayer” to said salesman?

That was the sort of question Laura and Kate Mulleavy, best known for designing fashion label Rodarte, were asked three years ago when the sisters were recruited as costume designers for the animated film “Sing 2” by the Illumination Company, best known for bringing “minions” to the world.

This wasn’t the first time the sisters have designed costumes for a feature film about performers working hard on their problems on stage. In 2010, they co-created the costumes for the gothic ballet “Black Swan” by Darren Aronofsky. But it was the first time they had designed an animated cast of zoo animals, which included a pig (voiced by Reese Witherspoon), a porcupine (Scarlett Johansson), and a lion (Bono) staging an opera. space in a Las Vegas-like city.

There were more questions, of course – questions that were raised throughout production, Kate Mulleavy said, “How well do we make the move? How do you get the right texture? How do we get this as detailed as possible? “

Here, in a condensed interview and edited for clarity, the sisters discuss the intricacies of fashion animation, including their inspiration for the film’s remarkable costume (worn by Meena, that loving teenage elephant): a hooded cape encrusted with crystals in several shades of blue that covers a long white dress with a giant train – all ruffles and chiffon and shameless innocence.

How do you even start to design something like this dress for animation?

Kate Mulleavy: There is so much heart and soul to his character, and we wanted to reveal that in his costume change. When she takes the cape off and reveals this beautiful dress, the train somehow floats, and it’s actually so spectacular to watch. Trying to get that thing that muslin does when you have a magical gust of wind… animation was just a really long process.

Laura Mulleavy: His cloak, if I’m not mistaken, took a year. There were things about it that we really wanted to achieve, like hand smocking details. It’s so easy in animation to do something perfect. And what we wanted to bring was the fact that what we do is either handmade or a handmade technique – something that makes it special and interesting, not like a takeout – room.

Even in the shape of this smock and the application of crystals then the gradient inside the cape. It took so long because it wasn’t just like, “Oh let’s make the dark blue and the teal come together.” We had to recreate an effect that would be achieved by tinting by hand.

Those details going back and forth and making sure the blue was sweeping her in the right part – it took a lot of work.

You released a few Rodarte collections during this period, between 2018 and 2021. Did some aspects of your work on “Sing 2” infiltrate these collections, or vice versa?

Kate: Sometimes this question arises when you are designing costumes – if you are, in our case, from your own fashion company. How much should Rodarte appear in the costumes? We definitely have a point of view, creatively, and these things can intertwine in a way.

Rather than having the movie influence what we did, it made us rethink the things we did. Sometimes you compartmentalize. You do something and you never think about it again. With fashion, you always try to move forward or take new steps in a different direction, even if it’s in your language; the manual work we have done over the years – aging, beading, hand dyeing and many techniques that we said at the time we were never going to do it again.

It was, in a sense, a pretty straightforward costume design project. But in fashion, there has been a lot of attention lately on the “metaverse”, and brands translating their looks for avatars into. video games Where animated characters. For you, did working on “Sing 2” seem related to this phenomenon?

Laura: I don’t connect them. It’s definitely trendy, but it’s a feature film that took three years to make. It doesn’t look like a gimmick, and it isn’t. Fashion entering these spaces is a way to make money, and I don’t think it’s wrong. I think it’s great, that’s what we do. It’s exciting, and it’s a way to build brand awareness.

Kate: But our main idea was to take some of the handmade things that we did and see them in a new space. So in a way there’s something meta about it because there’s a reference to things we’ve done. I feel like if you liked Rodarte you could watch the show at the end of the movie and see that.

Laura: I think it all comes down to virtual reality. “Sing”, yes, puts me in a space closer to understanding, like, what’s the virtual reality version of what we’re doing? It is certainly the future.

Kate: I walked away and thought, “All this time I’ve been making all these clothes that exist as objects. We have a whole archive of what we have done. And here’s something I did where there is no physical object, and I feel like it’s as real as anything I’ve ever done and could be anything one will look in 100 years. It’s creatively exciting to know that you can go beyond the material.

“Sing 2” will be released on December 22.

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