Rome - The Costumes

The Costumes Of Rome
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Introducing The Costume Designer
April on designing the costumes

April Ferry
"Art is being created for the dollar,instead of coming from the heart".

April Ferry

April was born in North Carilona,1932. She trained as a dancer and after getting divorced from her husband of thirteen years she turned to costume design in 1968. She is an award winning costume designer, costume supervisor and has also dabbled in acting. Her many credits include Free Willy, Almost an Angel, The Associate, National Security, Playing by The Heart, Donny Darko, The Edge of Love and Maveric in which she received an Oscar nomination for her designs.

Awards won by April for her designs for Rome

Costume Designer Guild Award

2006: Outstanding Costume Design For A Television Series.

2007: Outstanding Costume Design for a Television Series


2006 : Outstanding Costumes for a series, shared with Augusto Grassi (costume supervisor)
For episode "Triumph"

"We created everything from scratch... It had to look absolutely authentic."

The clothes worn by the Ancient Romans may seem like simple garments, but they were loaded with symbolism and strongly reflected the social hierarchy at the time.
In her quest for authenticity, April travelled to India to find the fabrics used to make many of the costumes for Rome.

"They had the most authentic, handmade-looking things there".

Aprils dyeing and ageing department spent fourteen hour days making sure the new materials looked ancient.
According to April, Ancient Rome was far from the white marble wonderland portrayed in most movies. Most Roman women actually dyed their clothes, partly to hide the grime of the city.

"Ancient Rome was such a dirty city that, walking down the street, the bottom of your clothes would get dirty

The most socially significant garment was the toga, worn by upper class men,the toga was a flowing and somemn garment. The toga was the official dress of elected magistrates, and it remained the regular from of dress for the upper class into the early days of the empire.

"Julius Caesar was very much the good dresser and was known for wearing silk so I had to have him looking very spiffy".
"The toga was such a pain in the neck to keep on, if you wrapped your toga in the morning, you would have to wrap it again two or three times during the day. They didn't have safety pins, zippers or even buttons at that point".

To meet the demands of this history based production, April extensively researched each characters wardrobe. She painstakingly focused on every detail to make the pieces as authentic as possible and with a team of 45 laborers, she hand dyed and otherwise crafted individual pieces including chain mail and iron breast plates molded from wet leather, on location daily.

" I made four thousand costumes, we had lots of extras playing different classes, when I started I thought oh my how am I going to do this?!".
My regular crew was 16 people but with thousands of extras we had 45 people working in the costume department."
Working in Italy with the cast and crew was such a pleasure, I loved every minute of it and it's the best project I've ever worked on."

April At The 9th Costume Designers Guild Awards
April with Kevin and James at The Dvd release of Rome Season Two
April Ferry
April James and Kevin

Atia of The Julii Costume Sketch

Sketch of Atia's costume

Costumes from Season Two

costume pages costumes
Costumes from season two

April On The Set Of Rome

April on Set with James Purefoy(Marc Antony)
April and James Purefoy
april and ciaron hinds
April and Ciaron Hinds

Artifacts From Rome

Lucius Vorenus
Lucius Vorenus Costume
Centurian Uniform
Titus Pullo
Pullo costume
Military Uniform
Julius Caesar
Julius Caerar Costume
Military Uniform
Pompey Magnus
Pompeys Costume
Atia of the Julii
Atia costume
Dress for Servilia's Banquet
Marc Antony
marc antony costume
Military Tunic
Marcus Junius Brutus
Brutus Costume
Servilia of the Junii
Servilia Costume
Niobe's costume
Dress For Atia's Party
Gaius Octavian
Octovians costume
Tunic,With Leather Armour
Octavia of the Julii
Octovia of the Julii

Togas & Tunics
"Once I started to do my own research-in books, in museums-it dawned on me that so much of what you see in films of the period is wrong," said April Ferry, the Academy Award nominated costume designer for Rome."In keeping with the ambition for the whole production, we didn't want to repeat those mistakes. We wanted to get it right wherever we could. Authenticity was really important to us."

The task facing the costume designers and creators of Rome was an enormous one. The commitment to authenticity meant creating the entire wardrobe from scratch. This amounted to more than 4,ooo items for the first season, with 2,500 pieces required for the first three episodes alone. Every stage of the process was carefully managed in order to preserve the genuine ancient Roman look and feel. Ferry worked exclusively with fabrics that would have been available during ancient Roman times. Cotton, wool, linen and silk were all purchased in their natural state and then treated and hand-dyed on set. Much of the raw fabric came from India, where Ferry visited several times often while working on the show. The rest came from Morocco, Tunisia, and Prado in northern Italy. Working with the original fabric gave the clothes not only the right texture and colour, but also the proper weight.
2With items of clothing like the toga, which was very basically fabric draped on the body, that was a very important detail to get right. The way the garment hangs is an essential part of the way it looks,"explains Ferry.

The costumers of Rome were not limited to creating the world of ancient Rome itself. In dressing Cleopatra and creating the Ptolemaic court at Alexandria, there was also the creation of an entirely different Egyptian look."It was a particular challenge for to create a look for Cleopatra because she is such a familiar figure," says Ferry. "She's a myth, and it's hard to dress a myth. One of the most important things for me-and for hair and makeup, who designed her wonderful wigs-was just to shake it up a bit. I did my research and then I used my imagination. I was very much influenced by the particular shape of Lyndsay Marshall. You've got this tiny, beautifully shaped little women, not voluptuous like we're told the real Cleopatra was, but very bold, very sexy, and prepared to take risks. If you look at what we asked her to wear, it's nearly always transparent, and she had nothing on underneath. At the least, it's figure hugging. And it all makes her look so striking and sexy.

But even the task of re-creating Egypt was one Ferry found best faced from her office in Rome. "One of the advantages in working in Rome is that the standard of craftsmanship is so incredibly high," she says. In some of the cases the most efficient way to work was to create prototypes of certain objects in Rome and then have them replicated abroad. The leather breastplate worn by Roman army officers, such as Lucius Vorenus, was created at Cinecitta Studios in Rome and then replicated in India.
Designing the costumes for Rome was a huge undertaking, but Ferry found he process intensely rewarding. "This is perhaps the single most fulfilling assignment I've ever undertaken in nearly fifty years in the business," says Ferry.