Carlo Poggioli, whose spectacular costume designs have been seen in films that range from the Middle Ages and Renaissance (€˜Season of the Witch′, €˜Dangerous Beauty′) to post-Civil War America (€˜Cold Mountain′) and fantasy fairytale worlds (€˜A Midsummer Night′s Dream′, €˜The Brothers Grimm′), was brought in to create the hundreds of costumes fabricated for the film €˜The Raven′. €œCarlo Poggioli is a superstar,€ says producer Mark Evans. €œWe were very fortunate to get him. Carlo really understood the movie conceptually. That doesn′t always happen.€

The designer began his research for €˜The Raven′ in New York City. €œI went there because there are such wonderful book stores,€ he says. €œI found the perfect book with pictures of the accessories and everything I could want that dated back to 1840-1850. So I started from there.€

The costumes he created for Alice Eve′s character, Emily, started with real-life silhouettes, to which he added a touch of fantasy to set Emily apart. €œAlice was a joy to work with because she was so enthusiastic about the clothes,€ says the designer. €œEmily is an educated girl, an independent girl and the daughter of an important person in Baltimore. We dressed her in wonderful colors, very strong colors for that time. We deliberately made her costumes a little different from the other women′s clothing in the film. I was thinking that her father owns a shipping company, so he′s bringing in fabrics that others don′t have access to.€

Eve had an additional challenge because of the period corset she had to wear. €œI′m not sure she′d ever worked in one before,€ says Poggioli. €œThey make sitting and standing very difficult if you are not used to them, but the corset also helped her move in a way that is not modern. In the end, she loved it.€

Poggioli also developed a signature look for Poe that combined period and contemporary. John Cusack took a strong hand in the process, insisting that Poe should be dressed in black. €œJames [McTeigue, director] and I were initially thinking very dark greens and blues, but John′s vision was black and we accommodated him,€ says the designer. €œHe′s a romantic poet and so everything that he′s wearing has softer shapes and fabrics, like light wool and cottons.€

Poggioli had a chance to truly shine, as well as a monumental task to fulfill, when designing the biggest scene in the film, the masked ball that Hamilton hosts to celebrate his daughter′s birthday. With more than 300 extras in lavish period costumes, vintage masks and elaborate head pieces, the scene is an extravagant, over-the-top spectacle that took seven teams of costumers to execute.

€œWe wanted it to be unique,€ says Poggioli. €œJames and I decided to use the ocean as a theme to make it a really unusual world that borders on fantasy. We used a lot of blues and greens. When Poe arrives, we see the scene through his eyes and it′s a little surreal as he encounters a giant octopus, some mermaids and some really strange masks.€

Historically accurate or not, €˜The Raven′ is a well-crafted story peppered with intrigue, suspense, history, spectacle and excitement, and the film′s imaginative version of Edgar Allan Poe′s last days shines a new light on the legendary American writer. €œI want people to be super entertained,€ says writer Hannah Shakespeare. €œIt′s really a psychological thriller and the audience is along for the ride. We show writing as an admirable profession that takes a lot of courage. Poe was not just a drunk who was hallucinating and wrote down some things about a bird. He was a man of passion and heart and empathy.€

 

Image Courtesy of   The Raven