Haunted Favorites: The Best Costumes in Horror

With spooky season coming to a close, horror aficionados and Halloween lovers everywhere are sobbing, either preparing to launch themselves into the holiday spirit, or back into a year-long slumber until next year’s spooky season rolls around. But the fun’s not over yet, and in celebration of the second-most-festive season of the year, I’ve compiled a list of a few of the best costumes in horror.

So, without further ado, and in no particular order, I give you my Haunted Favorites:

Pennywise: It


Oftentimes, the villains of horror don more simplistic costumes. With Pennywise, however, the opposite is true. As a clown’s persona is already extraordinarily over the top, of course they’re going to need a costume to match their vivacity. Costume designer Janie Bryant is the woman responsible for bringing Pennywise to life in this 2017 version of Stephen King’s It. As a big fan of horror costumes and someone with a love for period clothing, Bryant was especially excited to design the Pennywise costume.

Some of Bryant’s initial research for the character of Pennywise consisted of images of Victorian clowns and acrobats, Renaissance clothing, and even Elizabethan clothing – hello ruffs! Bryant stated that she “really wanted to include elements of all the different periods,” considering that the lifespan of Pennywise stretches across hundreds of years. She also wanted to create a quality similar to that of an exoskeleton, to correlate the concept of Pennywise being a spider in King’s original novel. Janie added elements such as pleats to give Pennywise “that organic, caterpillar, creepy feel,” and used a dupioni silk as the primary fabric for the Pennywise ensemble, washing and distressing it in order to achieve that vintage look.

I think it’s fair to say that the end result is a masterpiece, no?

Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise; It (2017)


Crimson Peak


When we think of horror films, the word ‘beautiful’ rarely comes to mind, but that’s exactly the word I would use to describe Crimson Peak. With it’s gothic aesthetic alongside it’s impeccable attention to detail, Crimson Peak is visually stunning in every aspect.

Bringing that gothic beauty to life alongside director Guillermo Del Toro and production designer Tom Sanders, was costume designer Kate Hawley. Hawley states that Guillermo already had a very strong vision of the color coding he wanted to use for the settings and costumes, using rich, warm hues for the New York setting and harsh, cold hues for Allerdale Hall.

Mia Wasikowska as Edith Cushing; Crimson Peak (2015)

Learn more about the costumes of Crimson Peak with The Art of Costume Blogcast!

The pre-production for Crimson Peak was five months long, followed by shooting which lasted three months. Before pre-production, Hawley also did a month of her own research. According to Hawley, the project started off with a note from Guillermo that said, “It’s just Victorian.” Which she found ironic because, having worked with him before, she says in an interview with Inverse, “it’s never just anything.”


Grace’s Wedding Dress: Ready Or Not


The transformation of Grace’s wedding dress is the star of Ready Or Not, and no one can convince me otherwise.

“Lace… uh, reads blood really beautifully.”

Avery Plewes, costume designer

Samara Weaving as Grace Le Domas; Ready Or Not (2019)

What begins as a chic, yet relatively simple gown, transforms into something else entirely by the end of the movie. Thus, the slow evolution of the wedding dress became the star that helped to tell the story of Grace’s struggle, to put it lightly. Costume designer Avery Plewes drew parallels between the character of Grace and her marriage into a wealthy dynasty, and familiar figures such as Grace Kelly and Kate Middleton marrying into royalty, which inspired the original design for the dress.

Though the lace is beautiful and entirely fitting for a wedding gown, Plewes states that there was another reason for the use of lace. “Lace… uh, reads blood really beautifully,” says Plewes.

When a costume goes through the sort of transformation that Grace’s wedding gown goes through, a costume designer has to strategically plan out every aspect of that costume’s deterioration. They also have to prepare for multiple variations of that same costume. For this purpose, Plewes created a color-coded flow-chart containing everything that could happen to Grace’s dress throughout the script, and then reverse-engineered it. So, just how many multiples did they have to make? The answer: 24. 17 of which were worn by Samara, and seven of which were worn by her stunt double, Jackie Geurts.


Bram Stoker’s Dracula


Bram Stoker’s Dracula should never not be on a list of best costumes in horror. Or best costumes in any genre for that matter. With costume design by Eiko Ishioka, Francis Ford Coppola‘s 1992 adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design.


Monica Bellucci, Michaela Bercu, & Florina Kendrick as Dracula’s Brides; Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

Learn more about the costumes of Bram Stoker’s Dracula with the Art of Costume Blogcast!

“The costumes will be the set.”

Francis Ford Coppola

After being told that his budget for the film was much lower than he desired, Coppola decided to put a vast majority of his budget into the costumes, declaring that, “the costumes will be the set.” A rather uncommon choice when it comes to the film industry.

Throughout the design process, nature became a primary source of inspiration behind many of Ishioka’s designs, from Lucy’s wedding dress, inspired by the Australian frilled lizard, to Lucy’s party dress that’s embroidered with intertwining snakes.

Ishioka also uses color and silhouette to show a characters evolution throughout the film. Mina, a rather innocent and modest character throughout the movie, is wearing a seductive red gown in the scene where Dracula finally seduces her. A color choice Eiko claims was to “tie the two lovers together in a burst of passion that cannot be contained.”

With Eiko’s background as a graphic designer, Coppola believed that Ishioka’s lack of roots in the costume design world, would give her the advantage in creating costumes that were entirely different than what was already associated with the Dracula legend. If the Oscar win isn’t confirmation enough that she succeeded in that endeavor, then I don’t know what is.


Midsommar


Have you ever spent two months creating a gown comprised of 10,000 silk flowers? No? Well, costume designer Andrea Flesch and her Midsommar team have!

Needing to make a massive gown that looked like a field of flowers, Flesch and her team started with the base of the gown, which she says was “more of an engineering thing than a designing thing.” So, of course, she enlisted her husband, an architect, for help. After multiple trials and errors, they finally found a design that worked and continued on to the cloak, which also required some trial and error. They then selected the flowers, making sure to be mindful of director Ari Aster’s color preferences throughout the movie, which were primarily yellow, red, and blue.

If that process alone isn’t enough to convince you that this film deserves a spot on this list, then maybe the rest of the costumes will. Following a color code throughout the movie, beginning in white and gradually becoming more vivid as we move through to the final ceremony, where the colors are most intense, we get to see how truly intertwined the costumes are with the plot, and how deeply Flesch’s research actually went.


The Nun


Something about the simplicity of the costumes in The Nun makes them all the more appealing. While The Nun takes place in the war-torn Romania of the 1950’s, the focus of light and dark is prominent. Not only is it seen through the lighting and set design, but also through the costumes designed by Sharon Gilham. A brief example, as shown in the images above, is the costume of Valak being comprised of mostly black, excluding the area surrounding her face, while Sister Irene appears in all white. This contrast not only helps to make Valak appear as a sinister presence lurking against the backdrop of darkness, but also shows the innocence of Sister Irene in comparison.


Edward Scissorhands


You can’t have Halloween without at least one Tim Burton movie, and while it may not be horror, I simply had to include a costume designed by the esteemed Colleen Atwood.

While Edward Scissorhands is arguably considered to be more of a Christmas movie than anything, his costume is most certainly more of the Halloween genre. Unless you find that leather and metal puts you in the Christmas spirit?


Johnny Depp as Edward Scissorhands; Edward Scissorhands (1990)

According to Atwood, while she used old machinery parts and vinyl to embellish and accessorize the iconic character, Edward’s costume was partly inspired by the Victorian Era. She says she “pulled a lot from the 19th century.”


The Horror Classics


Ahh yes, the classic ‘sadistic-murderer-holds-weapon-up-against-conveniently-well-placed-backlighting-in-order-to-further-frighten-the-already-terrified-victim’ pose. Only a classic pose for such classic murderers, am I right? And do you know what helped these fine gentlemen become such classics? That’s right, their costumes.

It would be a dishonor to the horror genre not to include characters as well-renowned as these in such a list. However simple the costumes of these horror staples may seem, they were key in creating such unmistakable villains. I mean, a man wearing a fedora? Gotta be Freddy Krueger. Is that a hockey goalie? Nope, it’s definitely Jason. William Shatner’s face? Absolutely not, that’s Michael Myers.

Confused about the William Shatner reference? Allow me to explain. With the tight budget of $300,000 to bring Halloween to life, production designer Tommy Lee Wallace decided to go to a mask shop and pick up a few potential options for the mask of Michael Myers, one of which was a William Shatner Captain Kirk mask. Of course, this was the option they decided on and, after a few modifications it evolved into the familiar mask we all know today.   

Left: Tommy Lee Wallace in YouTube video ‘Rebuilding the Original Michael Myers.’ // Right: Jason in Friday the 13th Part III.

While Michael’s mask has been his staple since the first Halloween film, Jason’s hockey mask did not make an appearance until the third Friday the 13th installment, when he steals the mask from the corpse of one of his victims. Aw… how sentimental. The decision to use the hockey mask was actually a happy accident thanks to 3D effects supervisor Martin Jay Sadoff.

Another mask that we all know and love is that of Ghostface from the Scream franchise. Costume designer Cynthia Bergstrom says her original sketches of the Ghostface costume were inspired by Edvard Munch’s Scream painting, as well as the Grim Reaper. Bergstrom also stated that, while the mask wasn’t her department, she still did a lot of research for it, “looking back through various historical periods.”


Original Ghostface costume sketch by Cynthia Bergstrom (1995)

The Ghostface mask itself was actually found in a box in the garage of a location that was being scouted. Director Wes Craven apparently took one look at it and said, “this is like the famous scream painting.” After trying to recreate a version of the mask, they decided to just get the rights to the mask they had found and use it.


The Scream by Edvard Munch (1893)

Alright, so the masks make sense, but why give Freddy a fedora? With Dana Lyman as the costume designer and mechanical special effects designer Jim Doyle in charge of designing Freddy’s glove, the idea to put Freddy in a Fedora actually came from an experience Wes Craven had as a child, one where a drunk in a fedora “did a mind-fuck” on Wes. Wes says in an interview for The Take that “the idea of an adult who was frightening and enjoyed terrifying a child was the origin of Freddy.” Which is why he made the decision that Freddy would don a hat.

You can read more about the origin stories of these classic horror costumes in the “Designing Fear” series, written by Elizabeth Glass!


What movies or costumes would you like to have seen on this list? Let us know in the comments!


Want to learn more about these iconic looks? Check out my sources!

Måneskin: Inspiring the World One Flare at a Time

“Not only is Maneskin a host of formidable talent, it’s also a band with impeccable style and an inspiring message”

You may have heard of Måneskin, the Italian rock band with the Danish name, meaning ‘Moonlight’. And if you haven’t, well, here’s your wakeup call. Not only is Måneskin a host of formidable talent, it’s also a band with impeccable style and an inspiring message. A message that encourages their fans to always be unapologetically themselves, regardless of what the world thinks. And who better to send such a message, than a young band that started their career busking in the streets of Rome and has quickly become a worldwide phenomenon, all because they never stopped being themselves?

Sharing big dreams and a love for music, vocalist Damiano David, bassist Victoria De Angelis, & guitarist Thomas Raggi attended high school together. In 2015 they completed the group with drummer Ethan Torchio, and in 2016 they made it official when they gave their band a name that will, undoubtedly, go down in rock history. And thus, Måneskin was born. From their second place win at X Factor Italia in 2017, to their first place win at Eurovision 2021, Måneskin has not only won the hearts of Europe, but the hearts of the world.

Left to Right: 1. Måneskin busking in Rome, @maneskinofficial Instagram. 2. Måneskin after winning Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest, May, 2021. Image by Peter Dejong.

Whether they won our hearts or stole them, one thing’s for certain; they’re most definitely aware of the power of fashion. Being as renowned for their daring trendsetting as they are for their music, I think it’s important to admire the minds behind the looks that have us Beggin’ for more. Since 2020, stylist Nicolo “Nick” Cerioni, also known for being the co-founder of SUGARKANE STUDIO, as well as being a stylist to numerous other Italian celebrities, is the man we have to thank as we drool over Damiano in bell bottoms. In an interview for VD News, Cerioni said that, when he first began working with Måneskin, he was “very impressed by their professionalism and musical artistry”. Also stating that they have “very, very precise ideas about their stylistic path”, which, is not at all hard to believe, given the confidence they exude.

“We consider fashion as self-expression, and as a way of giving more strength to one’s message” – Damiano David

While Måneskin was serving us looks even before working with Cerioni, since beginning their work with him in 2020 we have seen a number of show-stopping ensembles. Including a couple custom Etro designs made for the Sanremo Festival, as well as for Eurovision. The band was able to freely express many of their ideas throughout the creative process for the designs and were thoroughly happy with the results, as were the audience. For the Sanremo designs, Etro explained that “the group wanted the looks to represent an intrinsic expression of freedom and chose the feather as a symbol”, resulting in beautifully embroidered tulle jumpsuits that certainly made a statement. For the Eurovision looks, they channeled that glam-rock style that we all know and love, resulting in metallic leather vests & flares, embellished with metal studs and crisscrossed motif details to complete the look. Damiano has stated that Måneskin views “fashion as self-expression, and as a way of giving more strength to one’s message”, and they have certainly proven that mindset to be true. If Måneskin were encouraging us to be unapologetically ourselves, while wearing polo’s and khaki shorts, we’d probably feel a bit bamboozled.

Left to Right: 1. Måneskin at Sanremo Music Festival, 2021. Image by Maria Laura Antonelli 2. Måneskin at Eurovision, 2021. Image by Kuba Dabrowski.


Who Inspires Måneskin?


In an interview with Nikkie de Jager for her YouTube, Nikkie Tutorials, Damiano was asked who inspires them as a band. He responded saying that they “take inspiration from the old bands of the 70’s, of course, because they are the hugest example of what a band can actually do.” He then followed up with a list of more recent bands that inspire them. Naming bands like, Arctic Monkeys, Royal Blood, IDLES, and Slaves. – Hmm.. sounds like the creators of Peaky Blinders should add Måneskin to next season’s soundtrack. –

At the top of that list, however, was Harry Styles. “We really like what Harry Styles is doing, in terms of music and also in terms of aesthetic, and fashion, and the message that he sends.”, Damiano stated. Måneskin has also mentioned that Harry Styles is an artist that they would be interested in collaborating with. A collaboration that, I’m sure, the vast majority of us would be in full support of.

Left to Right, Top: 1. Harry Styles for Variety Magazine, 2020, Image by Parker Woods. 2. Jimmy Page at Shepperton Studios, 1974. 3. Harry Styles performing at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards, 2021, Image by Kevin Winter. // Bottom: 1. The Rolling Stones, Image PR handout. 2. Jimi Hendrix performing at Madison Square Garden, 1968, Image by Walter Looss Jr.

Måneskin’s style has been described using terms such as, glam-rock, gender fluid or androgynous, and has even been placed under the umbrella of “New Masculinity”, which is, in short, exactly the opposite of ‘toxic masculinity’. Seeing their style described in these terms, and given that Styles sends a similar message about individuality and the freedom to express yourself, it makes perfect sense that Harry would be such a major inspiration to Måneskin, as does the 70’s rock influence. Similarities to rock legends such as Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, among many others, can be spotted in some of Måneskin’s most iconic looks. On the cover of their latest album, ‘Teatro D’ira’, you can see they may have drawn inspiration from bands like Pink Floyd, or even Fleetwood Mac, creating a very 70’s bohemian style. During many of their live performances and interviews they can often be found in anything from suits, to leather and lace, to harnesses and skin. For Måneskin, style is limitless. As are talent and good looks, apparently *sobs*.

Top Left: 1. Måneskin Teatro D’ira album cover. Image by Gabriele Giussani. // Bottom Left: 2. Pink Floyd. Image by EMI Music Sweden. // Right: 3. Måneskin. Image by Francis Delacroix.


A Journey Through Måneskin’s Music Videos


What about Måneskin’s music video style? I’m glad you asked! From red carpets, to live performances, to interviews, Måneskin never fails to provide us with endless style inspiration, so why would their music videos be any different? With music videos spanning from their earliest video for ‘Recovery’, released in June of 2017, until their most recent music video for ‘I WANNA BE YOUR SLAVE’ which was released in July of 2021, Måneskin has gone through a lot of growth and transformation, and we love to see it.

During the years of 2018 & 2019, many of their music videos were styled by Rebecca Baglini, with costume designers on a few videos as well. The video for song ‘Moriró da Re’, released in 2018, had costume design by Jo Maria Contini, with characters donning some quite fantastical ensembles. From a serpent-man in bone-like armor, to a couple sets of sexy angel wings, to a few heavily jeweled looks, the ‘Moriró da Re’ music video does not disappoint. The ‘L’altra Dimensione’ video, released in 2019, was designed by costume designer Noemi Intino. In this music video, the main character travels to a seemingly different dimension, where he is celebrated amongst people wearing vibrant and jubilant robes and headdresses. Both videos were also styled by Rebecca Baglini, who was the stylist for the music videos of ‘Torna a casa’, ‘Fear for Nobody’, and ‘Le parole lontane’, before Nicolo Cerioni took over in 2020.

Since Cerioni became the stylist for Måneskin, he’s worked with them on three of their latest music videos. From the colorful flared pant-suits of ‘VENT’ANNI’, to the leather and mesh of ‘ZITTI E BUONI’, Cerioni’s styling gives us all the rockstar fashion we desire. The latest music video for ‘I WANNA BE YOUR SLAVE’, features all of the aforementioned styles and more. A must watch if you love lace & ruffles, floral suits, spikes & pearls, leather and a whole lotta BDSM *winks*.


“There is no question, style counts 100% and fashion 0%”

Nicolo Cerioni, Sound Identity Interview

In an interview with Sound Identity, Nicolo was asked how important an artist’s individual style is versus the importance of keeping up with fashion. Cerioni responded stating, “there is no question, style counts 100% and fashion 0%”. The contrast between style and fashion is an important distinction to understand, as an artist’s personal style does not always coincide with what is trending in fashion. In cases like Måneskin or any other musician, their music tells their story and their style enhances the narrative.

Måneskin, 2020. Official Måneskin Instagram.

Style is unique to every individual, it gives us a glance at who that person is, what they like. If you meet someone for the first time and they’re wearing all black leather, it sends a message. If they’re wearing every color under the sun, it sends a different message. What we choose to style ourselves in everyday is like our costume, it helps to tell our character’s story. Fashion on the other hand, is viewed on a much broader scale. If our style helps to tell our individual story, fashion tells the story of society as a whole. As a stylist, Cerioni has to help his clients send a message through their clothing, so it wouldn’t make much sense to prioritize fashion over style.


Because celebrities have such a vast following, they often influence fashion through their personal style. So, what trends have we seen gaining popularity in 2021?


Bell Bottoms


Måneskin definitely loves a good flared pant, and they’re not the only ones. This once popular silhouette has been making it’s comeback as of late and, unlike it’s return in the 2000’s, this time it’s not just a trend for the women. That’s right, we’re going all the way back to the 70’s. Bell bottoms for all!

Left to Right: 1. Måneskin official Instagram. 2. Måneskin for Billboard Italia, 2020.

The 70’s are Back Baby


Flared pants aren’t the only 70’s trend we’ve seen circulating recently. 70’s color palettes, platforms, vibrant, or dare I say groovy patterns, crochet, among many other 70’s trends have been rising in popularity in 2021.

Måneskin, 2020. Image by Francis Delacroix.

Rings & Men’s Nail Polish


These particular trends have been popular amongst rockstars for decades, but lately they’ve been spreading themselves beyond just the edgy daredevils we might expect to see them on. Celebrities such as Brad Pitt, Jason Momoa, Keanu Reeves, among others have been seen sporting nail polish, and the fun doesn’t end there. Funky nail art has been trending amongst women recently and it seems that men have decided they wanna be included in all the excitement. While in the past we may have seen just a single, solid color, now we’re seeing many men going for fun designs and crazy prints.

Damiano David, VENT’ANNI music video, 2020.

Also, Men in Dangly Earrings


We’ve seen men in earrings in the past, oftentimes it was a set of studs or a solo dangle, but lately many men have been donning dangles on both ears and, honestly, I’m here for it.

Damiano David at Eurovision, 2021.


Music has the ability to inspire those who consume it, and clothing has that same power. Combine the two so that they enhance one another, and you practically have an unstoppable powerhouse. Add in an inspiring message and you’ve got a band called Måneskin.


Måneskin for the I WANNA BE YOUR SLAVE music video, 2021.


Måneskin has never been shy about constantly finding new ways to express themselves, without feeling the need to apologize for it, so it’s no surprise that the message they want their fans to gain from their music is to be yourself without fear of judgement. Their Eurovision song ‘ZITTI E BUONI’ discusses just that, and it’s the reason they use the name Marlena in many of their songs. Måneskin has said that Marlena is the personification of being confident, of the freedom to express yourself. She’s an “ideal and also a value”. So, whether it be through clothing or action, Måneskin challenges societal norms and the judgements of others, and they encourage their fans to do the same.


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