Actor-director Kenneth Branagh’s upcoming film, Death on the Nile, the sequel to his Murder on the Orient Express (2017), is a film based on the eponymous 1930s book by Agatha Christie.
The film’s costume designer, two-time Academy Award nominee Paco Delgado, was instrumental in bringing back the bygone era to the big screen. The veteran designer, known for working on films like Les Miserables, The Danish Girl and Jungle Cruise, credits director Branagh’s vision. “Ken sought a stylish, more contemporary approach to the period, as opposed to just a reproduction,” says Delgado.
The costume designer researched the time period, and identified shapes and designs, colours, patterns and ideas, all with Branagh’s vision in mind. He explains, “It’s not that we have tried to make a contemporary movie, but we looked at the elements which were the most appealing in a contemporary context.” Delgado had to take various aspects into consideration such as the Egyptian setting and the sexual attraction between Simon Doyle (played by Armie Hammer) and Linnet Ridgeway (Gal Gadot).
“There is a triangle of passion, love and sex between Jacqueline de Bellefort (Emma Mackey), Simon and Linnet. Linnet is a person who was loved and hated at the same time, which made it much more complex in terms of who could kill her,” says Delgado.
The wardrobe apparently reflects the colour palette of summer and the lightness of summertime fabrics, consistent with the colour palette for the cabins on the boat. “If you are working, for example, with scenes that take place outside, the colours are already determined, like the yellowy-brownish colours of the earth and the blue sky. It’s when you come inside that you can manipulate the colour palette of the walls and the furniture or the tablecloth,” he adds.
Director Branagh says “Our goal was to make our audience sweat a little with them, but also to want to be right there, to want to feel that need, that passion, that lust, that appetite, that relish, that delight, that wanting to consume another person. It’s not necessarily good, but it can be unbelievably thrilling. In that central love triangle between Gal and Armie and Emma’s characters, there is a feeling of electricity, and in all three cases, they were able to convey passion and intensity, but without it becoming overdone. You know, they are people who can act and speak and be very naturalistic.”
On teaming up with Delgado, the filmmaker says, “With Paco, the costumes are clothes, and they are very bespoke. They are a marriage between his imagination, his flair for colour and texture, and his desire to hunt for original items. He loves clothes and the playfulness of the period and he’s able to encourage the actors to find joy in the colours and textures and to love their clothes.”
Death on the Nile, also starring Tom Bateman, Ali Fazal and Leititia Wright, will hit the screens this Friday.