Sketches of Scarlett's costumes for Gone With the Wind (Judith Bowden)
She's wearing clothing that is too open for what would be considered appropriate. It's all about following social rules and she is gently pushing the boundaries.
—Judith Bowden, costume designer
The sheer scope of it all is hard to fathom. Gone With the Wind features 20 actors, many of them playing multiple roles. The story spans several time periods in terms of clothing development.
Costume designer Judith Bowden reckons there are around 200 costumes in all and Scarlett herself has 17 costumes. When you think that some of the dresses require 14-16 meters of fabric (a dress today takes 3-4), we're talking a lot of material.
Bowden has been at it for well over a year. She keeps her sketches together in what she calls her bible. She says dealing with the vast time span is one of her biggest challenges. "It's unusual to have to change the underwear every time you have an act change because usually you've got one silhouette for a show."
And then there was the extensive research. Fortunately, Bowden was working in Washington, D.C. and had access to the Smithsonian."If you're going to have to look at Civil War era clothing, that's the perfect place to be," she says. She also scouts auction house websites and has hundreds of pictures of real garments on her iPad. "I also have a horrendous stack of books that are specific to 15 years (around 1860 - 1875)."
The English-born Toronto resident, who actually got her first degree at the University of Manitoba, believes that costumes can really help tell the story. "That's the part that I'm interested in," she says. "How can I gently sculpt the look of a costume and change the colour scheme and help track the character development? So with Scarlett, we're going from soft, very gentle, extremely feminine almost transparent-like fabrics and then moving her into almost military fashions and then moving her back into a middle ground. There's a lot of thinking that goes into how I choose each of those colour schemes and how hard or soft the edges of the clothing are and what kind of geometry I'm creating with the clothing."