The costume history of Russia’s leading film studio

Mosfilm cinema concern

A glimpse into an extraordinary cinematographic legacy

The history of Russia’s leading film studio: Mosfilm
Throughout its history, which spans almost a hundred years, Mosfilm — Russia’s leading film studio — has created more than two thousand movies, many of which are considered to be cinematographic masterpieces. In addition to their artistic value, these films have another equally important characteristic — films contribute to building an authentic image of the past more than other arts. Unlike theater, which provides a general impression of the time and venue of a play due to innate conventionality, movies scrupulously reconstruct the historic reality in its entirety for their multi-million audiences.

The costume collection

The collection of costumes has been assembled at Mosfilm since the 1920s. During the first years following the revolution of 1917, the foundation of what is now a unique antique collection was laid — specifically the array of costumers dating from the 19th century, which the studio either bought from citizens or accepted as gifts. The studio is capable of choosing or producing a costume of any epoch — from muslin dresses worn by damsels of bygone days to massive armor suits. If suits of armor from the History Museum and the Mosfilm collection were placed side by side, the only difference would be their weight — the thing is that for film sets, even chain mails are made from special light alloys that enable actors to work a few takes in a row.

A mirror to our times

Each epoch has its own face. When following the intricacies of a story on the screen, a viewer may not pay special attention to details of garments or interiors; however, they will immediately sense fakeness as soon as a serious mistake is made in the reconstruction of a certain period. Therefore, during the preparatory stage that precedes the production of any movie, close attention is given to specific historical features that an epoch imposes on a human, primarily its costumes.

Fashion and film

The mode of dress and nature of clothes provide evidence of the social affinity of a person and their special individual characteristics. However, a costume is also an element of the artistic entirety of a film; therefore, it should always be addressed in the context of the figurative concept developed for a movie.

Iconic film directors

Director Karen Shakhnazarov

Karen Shakhnazarov is a Soviet and Russian filmmaker, producer and screenwriter. He became the Director General of the Mosfilm studios in 1998. His 2012 film White Tiger was selected as the Russian entry for the Best Foreign Language Oscar at the 85th Academy Awards.

Courier, a motion picture
1986

In Karen Shakhnazarov’s Courier, the protagonists are two young persons from different social strata. Katia is a pampered professor’s daughter. Ivan comes from a low-income family.

To convey this difference more precisely, the director wanted to find something special in Katia’s and Ivan’s clothes. “They made me wear a panama hat,” recalls Fedor Dostoyevsky, who starred as Ivan.

“I was struggling. They also stuck me with a hideous jacket that I would never have worn in real life. However, the director had a concept in mind: Ivan was supposed to look weird. I had to comply.”

Director Andrei Tarkovsky

Andrei Tarkovsky was a Soviet filmmaker, writer, film editor, film theorist, theatre and opera director. Tarkovsky's works Andrei Rublev, Mirror, and Stalker are regularly listed among the greatest films of all time. His contribution to cinema was so influential that works done in a similar way are described as Tarkovskian. Ingmar Bergman said of him: "Tarkovsky for me is the greatest (director), the one who invented a new language, true to the nature of film, as it captures life as a reflection, life as a dream."

Solaris, a motion picture
1972

Andrei Tarkovsky:

"The costume is a very important portion of the general artistic concept of the film. The essential thing is to have a very subtle sense of texture. The entire work should be a product of utmost reason. Utmost discipline must be applied to even a small button. A torn sleeve in a painting by Vermeer is an immortal value, a spiritual world. A newly made costume worn by an actor is always a disaster."

Mirror, a motion picture
1974

Andrei Tarkovsky:

"A costume, as any thing on camera, must have its biography associated with a specific man, an actor. This is always visible, because it is the same part of reality that changes over time, as everything else."

The costume collection
The costumes form the unique collection of the Mosfilm Cinema Concern. Currently any museum would be happy to make it part of its exposition; however, the studio offers these costumes a long vivid working life at stage sets, rather than tedious duties of regular exhibits.
Uniforms
Movies that feature military and civil uniforms constitute a special challenge for costume designers. To reconstruct them, perfect knowledge of all minute details and historic peculiarities is required.

Admiral Nakhimov, a motion picture
1946

The meticulous work enables viewers to perceive Admiral Nakhimov by director Vsevolod Pudovkin as a sufficiently credible visual encyclopedia of the epoch.

19th century

Uniform of an Admiral (Russian)

19th century

Uniform of a General (Russian)

19th century

Uniform of a Russian Navy officer (Russian)

1940s

Uniform of a Marshal of the Soviet Union (USSR)

1940s

Uniform of an NKVD officer (USSR)

21st century

Admiral's uniform of the Russian Navy (Russian)

21st century

Uniform of an Air Force General (Russian)

21st century

Road police officer's uniform (Russian)

Historical costumes for women
In order to create a historical costume for a film, perfect knowledge of the fashion and stylistic peculiarities characteristic of various periods is a must. A costume designer thoroughly studies the everyday life and clothes of the respective historical time and double checks all of the relevant minute particulars. This work results in a series of sketches that pave the way for tailoring the approved model. In order to render the model more credible, artists make use of old fabrics or pick contemporary equivalents; sometimes fabrics are specially produced using old techniques. Details of costumes are frequently augmented by genuine elements, such as gold embroidery, fur, pearls, or alternatively, stylized designs and materials are employed.

15th century

Dress (European)

16th century

Dress (Russian)

18th century

Dress (Russian)

Early 19th century

Dress (Russian)

Early 20th century

Dress (Russian)

1910s

Dress (Russian)

1940s

Dress (USSR)

1950s

Dress (USSR)

1960s

Dress (USSR)

1970s

Dress (USSR)

1980s

Dress (USSR)

1970s

Jacket and a skirt (USSR)

1980s

Dress (USSR)

Mosfilm Cinema continues to produce motion pictures with new stars appearing in them, so the collection of costumes is destined to grow.

Credits: Story

The Mosfilm Cinema Concern
http://mosfilm.ru

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Translate with Google
Home
Explore
Nearby
Profile