Every time I think about Birds Of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, I think about the fashion. Its looks are just killer, with Harley herself taking the bedazzled cake as a decked-out Margot Robbie wearing some of the snazziest duds ever seen in a superhero film.
In a new interview posted by Collider, costume designer Erin Benach, who has worked on films like Neon Demon, Drive, and A Star Is Born, talked about the design work that went into some of these fantabulous costumes.
“Behind her story is always something a little bit off from centre and a little bit crazy, with the idea being that caution tape may be a place to stay away from, and maybe it’s a way to caution the world against what she might do,” she said of one of the most iconic outfits seen so far, featuring a jacket with loud, glittering tassels made out of caution tape.
“So, we kind of took the idea of that caution tape and tried to repurpose it into a costume. We always wanted to create something that felt like Harley made it herself, so she’s sort of a crafty person in the backroom and she can make stuff herself — you know the shorts that she’s painted and the jacket that she’s put together herself. That’s why we did it like that. It’s fun and a little bit crazy like her.”
That combination—of DIY, high fashion, and comic book eccentricity—informs all of Harley’s looks, like the lengthy sequin jacket with a blue velvet runner, or the “Harley F*cking Quinn” T-shirt, with just a tasteful few bits of blood. Or red paint. Who can say. For Benach, she said, the core of the design was character, more than any direct influence from Harley’s comics look.
“I think it was a combination of allowing myself to look at [the comics] and then also sort of keeping myself away because I really wanted to create something new but inspired by [the comics],” she said. “We started with those characters and all their looks and I was able to kind of see what had been done over the different versions of the comics over the years. I think we took more of the backstory and the personality from there and then used the world that we were creating with Gotham to actually create the costumes.”
That world is Gotham meets the Met Gala, a vibrant, fashionable vision of the city of crimes, cats, jokes, and bats. The whole piece is well worth reading at Collider, too, as Benach goes in-depth on the costuming choices of every protagonist in the film, from Harley to Huntress to a young Cassandra Cain.
Birds of Prey and the rest of its title comes to Australian theatres February 6, 2020.