Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Bonham Carter eager not to ‘distract’ with wardrobe

Helena Bonham Carter

Burton and Taylor costume designer Susannah Buxton was careful not to let Helena Bonham Carter's on-screen attire detract from the script.

The actress plays the late screen icon in new TV drama Burton and Taylor, which also stars Dominic West. The biopic's costume designer Susannah Buxton was careful not to let Helena's on-screen attire detract from the script, and insists the pair tried not to make her character "blatantly sexy".

"Taylor was sensual, she was never obvious," she explained. "We also scaled back on the jewellery. Taylor would have worn much more in real-life, but it was too distracting on film. The costumes add a lot, but it's more about Helena and Dominic feeling as if they are those two people. They have to be believable, which they are. I cried when I first watched it all the way through, it's such a poignant story. The chemistry between them is incredible."

Burton and Taylor focuses on the relationship between the high-profile pair while they performed a run of Private Lives on Broadway.

Susannah didn't want to replicate Elizabeth's exact wardrobe, rather create an iconic portrayal of the Hollywood star.

"We didn't want to copy Taylor's look at 50 - which is how old she was when she did Private Lives. Helena was never going to look exactly like her, but that wasn't the point - we wanted to convey her star quality. She had such a presence; apparently you always knew she was in the room," she told vogue.co.uk.

"We looked for pieces that were part of the legend of her. People have so many memories of her and we had to summarise that with just a few select shapes and colours. Helena was hugely interested in the clothes - they help to build the story around someone so famous."

Susannah says transforming Dominic into Richard was a trying task as their ages were so different.

The style expert was careful to pick pieces that accentuated certain areas of the actor's body.

"Dominic is much younger than Richard Burton was at the time of the play," she explained. "So, we had to create ensembles that gave him not only age, but also the same strong, masculine and distinguished air that Burton was known for. I went for double-breasted suits, because they help broaden shoulders and add height."

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