Costume designer Eimer Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh told IndieWire she issued a warning to the woman responsible for the film’s knitwear: “Next time you see these sweaters, they might look a little different.”
Martin McDonagh’s ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’ tells the bittersweet story of a longtime friendship turned sour, using the Irish Civil War as both backdrop and metaphor for its main theme of friendships. which fade. It’s an allegory that provided versatile costume designer Eimer Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh with the perfect context to create a distinctive look, one that seamlessly marries precise period detailing with the subtle liberties taken by Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh’s designs.
“It’s a little story that takes place on an island off another island,” Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh told IndieWire. “It really gives you an opportunity.” The intimate nature of the film – centered on the psyche of the two dueling friends, naive and decent Pádraic (Colin Farrell) and inflexible and pained Colm (Brendan Gleeson) – was its starting point, alongside McDonagh’s overarching vision. “Martin wanted it to be cinematic,” she said of the director’s costume wishes. Together they aimed to create an augmented reality close to the magical realism of author Gabriel García Márquez.
With this in mind, Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh maintained a particular look throughout “The Banshees of Inisherin”: ensembles consisting of waistcoats, jackets and trousers for the men, and red petticoats and black shawls for the women, embracing the attire traditional of the time in the west of Ireland. “This whole period is extremely important,” she said. “The Republic of Ireland was born between 1916 and 1923, so everything is true to time. The silhouettes are all correct – we wanted these shapes on the small roads by the sea, on the way to the church. As the interiors were mostly dark, she played with patterns and creative pops of color, synchronizing them with the shades of the lush nature and wild landscapes of the place.
Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh has primarily used timeless Irish fabrics for her garments, all made to measure from materials like Irish linen and Donegal tweed with gray and cream used as base tones. For the film’s rich collection of cozy sweaters – red, purple, blue and charcoal – she worked with costume supervisor Judith Devlin’s neighbor, Delia Barry, an octogenarian knitter with unique skills whom Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh calls “an incredible woman”. . The film’s demands prompted Barry to warn, “‘Okay Delia, when you see those sweaters next, they might look a little different.'”
Indeed, thanks to the meticulous efforts of a gifted team of decomposer artists, who imbued the costumes with the details of the characters’ daily lives. “They are beaten by the sea,” said Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh. “They work on the land, cut the grass. Brendan and Colin really, really, really understand the importance of what a costume can do for the character. They were involved in the whole process”, which involved soaking the costumes in a variety of “crazy products”, putting rocks in the pockets, tying the clothes with string, hanging them up and, in some cases, even to burn them for a lifetime. ostensibly. “Colin had a sweater that was a little too zingy, too poppy. So we soaked it to bring back the color. We hand dyed all of Brendan’s shirts. It’s about getting the right levels.
Jonathan Hession / Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures
Another complexity that Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh faced was distinguishing the gazes of Pádraic and Colm. “They live on this little island, so there are a lot of similarities in what they wear,” she said. “It’s really when they put on the outer layers that they become different.” One of the most distinct outerwear designs created by Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh was worn by Gleeson: a long, woolen, linen-lined overcoat paired with a substantial hat. The idea was to make the coat light enough that it could flap and have movement on a windy or boren beach – an image which Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh called “Byron-esque”.
“People often talk about rocking women’s clothes,” she said. “We also wanted to get that move with him. Brendan is big, he has a big presence. So you get this silhouette: a romantic western Irish notion with a bit of a cowboy element. And we made the hat with quite a high crown. I can still see Brendan looking in the mirror and saying, “Is that too much? » »
Elsewhere, Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh accentuated Pádraic’s boyish qualities with a newsboy cap, a common sight in Ireland’s days in New York. “Directors and cinematographers can be very afraid of a hat because it casts a shadow on the face and if the actor did that, his expression is masked. But I wanted him to wear the hat – everyone wore one to protect themselves from the elements.
Jonathan Hession / Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures
For Siobhan (Kerry Condon), Pádraic’s worldly and intelligent sister who dreams of a better life, Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh preferred cutting-edge plays. For her wardrobe of distinct patterns, elegant ankle-length skirts and two-piece sets, she drew inspiration from archival photographs.
“There is a huge immigration story in Ireland,” said Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh. “There are fantastic photos. I even remember it when I was a kid. I had cousins in America; they would send packages from there. And that brings us back to this idea of someone starting out. Maybe Siobhan went to the mainland, got an education and wanted to be a teacher. She’s kind of like the feminist from Inisherin. She thinks of “How can I become independent?”
Yet Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh incorporated understated nods to western Irish traditions into Siobhan’s wardrobe. “We made a red coat and put black stripes on it, reminiscent of the usual red petticoats with the black stripes on the hem.” But then she also added a cute yellow coat to the mix. “The yellow coat is his starting coat,” said Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh. “She is entering a brave new world.”