Live Design: Did the film inform any of your artistic choices and what other research did you do?
The Duke's Apartment sketch; Courtesy of Catherine Zuber
Catherine Zuber: The film was a brilliant source of inspiration. Our challenge is a live theatrical experience, with very different considerations. I researched the paintings and illustrations of the Belle Époque, especially those of Toulouse Lautrec. It is a marvelously documented period.
LD: Color palette, how did you make certain choices and how did you collaborate with Derek and Justin on the overall look?
Elephant Love Medley; courtesy of Catherine Zuber
CZ: The designers worked closely with our director, Alex Timbers, who has a very precise and sophisticated visual vocabulary. I share a design studio with Derek, and we were always discussing color choices and options.
LD: Use of fabrics, especially for some of the dance numbers?
Diamonds scene; courtesy of Catherine Zuber
CZ: The fabrics used are a mix of stretch satin, metallic satin, lace, net overlay lace, nets, changeable taffetas, beaded net, velvet, organza, lurex, chiffon, jacquard satins, leather. The Lautrec characters were hand-painted by the artisans at Parson’s Costumes.
LD: How do the costumes help tell the story and define the characters?
Roxanne scene; courtesy of Catherine Zuber
CZ: A costume designer is always working with the director to make sure the storytelling is clear. Each character had their journey and their own visual style.
LD: Can you talk through one or two of the major costumes, Harold Zidler, owner of the Moulin Rouge, perhaps?
The Club scene; courtesy of Catherine Zuber
CZ: Harold Zidler, played by the brilliant Danny Burstein, is a complex character. His innate showmanship, his shady business dealings, and his humor and compassion are always in play. The first time Zidler appears, he is performing. His costume consists of a velvet tailcoat, with 'Moulin Rouge' embroidered on the back, studded with crystals. He wears a black and gold waistcoat and silver stripped trousers. The costume is completed with a top hat and cane. The costume is grand but old, having been worn since for decades. To show Zidler's private life, he has a brocade dressing gown with a period undershirt. Once again, the dressing gown is from a previous time. It is old, grand, and intentionally pretentious. Zidler wears this dressing gown in his scene with the Duke, who corners Zidler into an uncomfortable business arrangement. The humiliation of Zidler is underlined by the discrepancy of the situation with his fragile grandeur.
LD: Was there a brief from Alex Timbers about the costumes? What was he looking for?
Boulevardiers; courtesy of Catherine Zuber
CZ: I met constantly with Alex. He is a great storyteller. We discussed the aesthetics of the world of Moulin Rouge! and how each character exists within that world. Also, each character needs to be in contrast to other characters, so there is a fine line of keeping the balance consistent. Since the world of Moulin Rouge is a venue for theatrical experiences, we had a lot of fun creating the performance costumes.
Only Girl scene; courtesy of Catherine Zuber
Green Fairy; courtesy of Catherine Zuber