Tim Burton directed Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street in 2007. Stephen Sondheim’s musical, Sweeney Todd, tells a story about a man seeking revenge. He kills, and then discreetly disposes bodies by turning them to meat pies, which he sells in London. Colleen atwood’s work was made difficult by the setting of the musical in 19th century. Ms. Atwood had to combine Tim Burton’s dark outlook and unique style with period fashion. Combining black, dark colors and Crinoline costume from the period, this movie has an easily recognizable and recognizable look.
Sweeney Todd takes place in the Crinoline period, which is 1840-1865. Crinoline – a key element of this era – is missing in most scenes. Crinolines, which were worn under dresses, allowed them to reach extreme and even huge sizes. The ensemble of actors and actresses in this movie is very close to following the Crinoline fashions. The ensemble is dressed period-appropriately in many songs, such as “Pirelli’s Miracle Elixir”. Women wore bonnets and twisted their hair, but leading females did not. While the ensemble costumes are impressive, the movie does not accurately recreate the period. The movie’s style is stylized, and its costumes have elements of the period but do not meet the requirements for a period piece.
Crinoline was a time when the silhouette was very unique. The top part of the skirt had a smaller size, and a larger flared bottom. Overall, the silhouette is a little like a large bell. Sweeney Todd fails to meet the requirement. Although the female dresses are shaped like a small bell, they lack the Crinoline and therefore do not have the right size skirt. The best bell shape can be seen more in the extras than the main cast. But the blue dress Johanna wore, played Jayne Wisener is a good example. The dress has a flared waist and sits off-shoulder. It falls in waves from there. This dress gives Johanna that bell shape that was desired during Crinoline. Hairstyles on women in the movie don’t help with the silhouette at all. Helena Bonham Carter’s Mrs. Lovett and Johanna, both female leads in the film, wear their hair according to their own personality. Mrs. Lovett wears her hair in a quirky up-do with spikes that rise from the back. Johanna’s blonde, long hair is loosely draped down her back. No hairstyle resembles (or matches) the twisted chignon that sat on the lower portion of a women’s head. This style was held by a tiny net called a Snood. It wasn’t difficult to recreate the male silhouette during this period. The silhouette of the male character is readily visible in most male roles, with a few notable exceptions. Johnny Depp’s Sweeney Todd never wears a top-hat outside. Todd wears an unfitted jacket, worn in an open manner. This is not appropriate for the period. The males in the ensemble are wearing the correct top hats, jackets, and ties.
The costumes of Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber on Fleet Street are beautifully constructed. Johanna’s blue gown is an example of a costume that was constructed with accuracy. The dress is almost off of her shoulders and has a white lace hemline, a popular style during the Crinoline period. On the torso, you can see how the seams and stitches were used to create the structure of the dress. The torso also shows a slight corset. The dress looks expensive and luxurious, which is not surprising considering that the adoptive mother is a prominent judge. A small print can be seen on the dress, particularly on its bodice, if viewed closely. Thanks to the Industrial Revolution, the print would have been accurate for the Crinoline period.
The use of stylistic choices can enhance the enjoyment of any film, unless the goal is to analyse and criticize it. Some styles add to the character of a film, while others detract from it. Sweeney Todd’s Demon Barber of Fleet Street features costumes that are incredibly stylized and different from the Crinoline era in which the movie is supposed to be set. Sweeney Todd’s and Mrs. Lovett’s costumes are two of the biggest structural changes. Most notably, and frankly surprising, is that Mr. Todd’s leather jacket appears in the movie. Men wore fitted frocks coats with tails during this period. The coats were not made of leather, but from fabric. This inconsistency can be explained when one ponders why Colleen atwood made this choice. Sweeney Todd, the protagonist of the story, would appear as a villain if the tale was true. Leather jackets are associated with recklessness or toughness. Sweeney Todd’s recklessness, as well as his homicidal nature, makes him the perfect person to wear a leather coat. Even if it’s completely inaccurate, his leather jacket fits into the character. Mr. Todd’s other clothing includes a perfectly fitted vest, a white shirt and Leg-O-Mutton-like sleeves.
Some aspects of Mrs. Lovett’s costume were more accurate. Her main costume was a bit like a Raggedy Anne doll, but with a few Crinoline details. For example, a corset on the outside. It appears that the corset was made properly and beautifully. It is not intended to force all your internal organs close together to create a “beautiful wamp waist” look. Her main outfit also included fingerless, black, netting gloves. These gloves seemed to be from the 1980s and looked completely out of date. In addition to combat boots, Mrs. Lovett wore a main costume that no woman would have worn in the 1980s, regardless of her personality. Her other costumes remain true to the character while being more accurate. Because her business is doing better and she has more money, her last costume is more laced and fancy. There is also a shiny fabric on the bust, which makes her appear to be more costly. She is “successful” and her dress shows it. It reflects the new status she has achieved. This Crinoline would have allowed Ms. Bonham Carter to dance and move, but I do not think that it was wise to exclude it completely.
Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street’s costuming was not historically accurate. The costumes worn by the different leads are accurate at times, but there are many other instances where the ensemble is also accurate. Colleen atwood’s costume design played with Crinoline’s darker themes and colors. The costumes and theme of the film are very distinctive.