Count Dracula’s bold extravagance has never been an oversight for costume designers, but “Renfield’s” Lisa Lovaas wanted to add a bit of “rockstar flair” to Nicolas Cage’s take on the Prince of Darkness.
While Lovaas still aimed for a “current but timeless” wardrobe for the iconic vampire, she pulled inspiration from David Bowie as well as classic versions of Dracula.
As the film concludes and Renfield seeks his revenge on Dracula, Lovaas wanted to pay homage to former versions of the vampire in an unexpected way. Audiences’ last glimpse at the horror icon is him at his most extravagant, in an ultra-luxe deep burgundy velvet suit.
Lovaas revealed that in this final costume, there was “some David Bowie influence.” She told Variety, “I loved the monochrome style of that iconic red suit of his from the late ’80s. Such a bold and powerful look which I thought worked well for Nic. It just felt like a strong dramatic flourish for the end.”
“The character has developed over time, and there’s a continuity to the look that’s been established,” added Lovaas. “It was important to me to maintain that continuity, and hopefully to build on it, with respect for its history.”
While Nicholas Hoult plays the title role, his character’s costumes were dependent on what Cage’s Dracula was wearing. “Specific costume choices were in large part driven by what worked best for Nic on any given scene,” Lovaas said.
“I had all kinds of things for Nic to try on, capes that were furlined, capes that were bejeweled, and Nic Cage was 100% game for all of it,” added the costume designer. “The silk, brocade, velvet, shiny leather, all bring a kind of elegant richness that we wanted to portray for Dracula, a man of wealth, taste and elegance.”
As Dracula exuded luxury, Lovaas toyed with Renfield’s wardrobe, specifically with how to develop the submissive servant’s anticipation — and hope — for a life of freedom. As Renfield slowly breaks away from the shackles, he explores his identity as an independent man of the 21st century. Throwing his standard black-and-white suits to the back of his closet, Renfield indulges in pastel yellows, oranges, reds and pinks.
“There’s a kind of naïveté and innocence there, which ties into his character and the sense of hopefulness he has for the future,” Lovaas said. “And there’s nothing like patchwork pastels to bring that all together.”
As the film comes to a close, Lovaas chose to reference both characters’ beginnings, with Dracula sporting another red ensemble and Renfield revisiting his black-and-white suit.
“Renfield’s life story comes full circle, and I wanted to reflect that in the costume,” Lovaas said. “It felt like bringing in elements from his former life at the end helped to reinforce the sense that he’s making a new beginning.”
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