Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune has innumerable striking images—the vast landscapes, the oblong space ships, the sandworms.
And, without a doubt, the costumes: From the Bene Gesserit garb of the Reverend Mother Mohiam, to the psychotic astronaut look of the Sardaukar.
In an interview with /Film, co-costume designer Bob Morgan shared how he and co-designer Jacqueline West created the very memorable costumes of Villeneuve’s Dune: Part 1. There’s also some talk about how to make the best cape, a crucial element for many a genre movie.
Dune takes place in the far future. Morgan and West, however, started out their designing efforts by looking to the past. “We had to kind of step back a thousand years to go 10,000 years ahead, knowing that these were human beings,” Morgan told /Film. “This was an epic adventure of these three worlds, of these three families that were battling each other, and that’s kind of how it started. Knowing that Caladan was very deep and rich and lush, knowing that Arrakis was very dry, knowing Harkonnens were oppressive and incredibly dire and dark, that was the first triangle of these three opposing worlds that were going to intersect.”
After establishing this foundation, the designers moved on to create the look for specific characters. Morgan emphasized that he starts his designs by thinking but the function they would serve in whatever fictional environment the characters are in, but each role also had its own unique inspiration. Baron Harkonnen’s look, for example, was inspired by Marlon Brando’s “broody” character from Apocalypse Now, and the Atreides’ Caladan attire was partially inspired by the Romanoffs.
And, as promised above, there was also some good cape talk. “The trick is, is it light enough that it will fly? Will it catch the air and blow beautifully?” Morgan said about the cape creating process. “ It can’t be too light, but it can’t be too heavy. It’s finding that balance of the right fabric that you know will carry.”
You can glean more costuming insights from the full interview here, and you can also currently (re)watch Dune in theaters and/or on HBO Max.