“Harry Potter” Costume Designer Talks Villain Fashion

Half the success of being a great fictional villain is looking the part. Clothes are not only one of the most powerful ways to convey character on the big screen but also inspirational for fans of cosplay. Costume designer Jany Temime shares her experience of designing the costumes of the dark side for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban through Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2.

For the duration of six of the eight Harry Potter movies, Temime worked hard to create a seamless (pun not intended) vision as regards wizarding fashion. “I always kept in mind that I had to do something [that] was slightly wizardy,” she told Business Insider in a recent interview. More than just “wizardy,” her and the costume department’s designs turned out to be downright magical, and they remain a huge part of the wizarding world as we know it.

When it comes to villains, and there were a lot of them as the movies got darker and darker, Temime learned how to tell the difference between black and black:

By designing for six years on the same subject, it becomes your world. That was my creative world, and I knew how to do a very good hood, I knew which embroidery would work, I knew which different sort of black would be used, different shade of black, different shine of black.

Temime freely admitted that her favorite character to design costumes for was Bellatrix Lestrange, who just had to “look so rotten.” We in the fandom collectively agree that Bellatrix’s outfits, which featured leather corsets and layers of blacker-than-black fabrics, were spot on paired with Helena Bonham Carter’s nightmare-inducingly scary portrayal of Lord Voldemort’s right-hand woman.

She’s such a bad, bad, bad woman. But [Bonham Carter] is amazing in it, and she really made something out of it. [Bellatrix is] the worst, but I really liked her. Good characters are boring. Baddies are the only ones you will remember. We do love baddies, and Bellatrix is a fantastic baddy. Even if she’s so bad, we always forgive her because she’s so powerful and so extreme.

 

Bellatrix Lestrange and Death Eaters appear in the room of requirement and they are very scary.

 

Bellatrix’s costumes remain fan favorites at conventions. They do say the devil has all the best tunes, or in this case, cooler outfits. We are not the only ones who noticed this. Temime admitted that a large department store chain once asked her to create a Bellatrix Lestrange-inspired collection, but she ultimately refused, saying, “I couldn’t do it. It was not possible. But I thought it was funny that they were asking me to do a Bellatrix collection.”

Why stop at Bellatrix? The more menacing the villain, the more elaborate the costume, right? So how did Temime approach the all-important question of how to dress the villain of the story, Lord Voldemort?

We had five different weight[s] of silk, and then everything was individually dyed and complemented each other. I mean, it was a lot of work… But it’s there, and that helped the costume to be such a beauty. But without Ralph Fiennes playing it, I do not think it would have had the same result.

There is one villain in Harry Potter whose fluffy pink exterior does not match the evil within. Her name is Dolores Umbridge, and she will make you run away with your wand between your legs even while she is wearing a knitted cat scarf. “I never used so much mohair and soft wool and you know, rabbit,” Temime shared when remembering the challenge of dressing a baddie who was the human embodiment of an itchy sweater. “Everything [that] was super soft, I used on her. And then that smile of [Staunton’s] was amazing. I loved her, I loved her.”

 

Dolores Umbridge is scary as she reigns from her pedestal in the Ministry of Magic, pritected by her patronus cat.

 

And we love Temime’s designs. Eat your heart out, Madam Malkin. Without Temime and the costume department of the movies, the wizarding world would look very different.

 

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Dora Bodrogi

I am a writer, a critic, a researcher, a traveler, and a Ravenclaw through and through. My main fields of interest are representation, gender, and LGBTQ fiction, history, and censorship. Incorrigible doodler and theatre kid.