Did you recreate his real-life costumes or create new ones?
I was invited to the Elton John archives to look at all his fantastic stage wear, but I thought, as this is a fantasy film, we could go further. What I wanted was for Elton to see the costumes and think, “Wow, I wish I had that outfit!” So, rather than replicating them, I took inspiration from the original source - Venetian, fancy dress, Vegas showbiz – and redesigned them.
The Dodger’s costume is the one costume where I felt I had to replicate it as close to the original as possible. It’s so iconic. But instead of sequins, I covered it in 140,000 Swarovski crystals. This gave it an extra special twist.
What do you think Swarovski crystals bring to these costumes?
I’ve used Swarovski crystals on numerous films and they are very much part of the idea of showmanship. What they do is elevate and exaggerate an outfit. They’re incredible. Let’s say my designs are 110%, the crystals make them 150%!
Which costumes did you use the crystal ‘Elton John’ patches on?
The main moment is the outfit when he plays at the Troubadour for the first time. That was the gig that propelled him to the world. There’s a close-up of him coming out into a corridor and he’s wearing this red jumpsuit and it’s got ‘Elton John’ in Swarovski crystals across the back. It really tells the story of the beginnings of the Elton John we know and love.
Can you talk me through all the sunglasses that you made?
There were a few pairs of sunglasses that we replicated. In particular I wanted to do a white-framed, large 70’s pair covered in Swarovski crystals. These are one of the most iconic Elton John sunglasses; he wore them all the time. For the Devil outfit, I made a pair of heart-shaped sunglasses where we surrounded the lens with crystals. At that point he’s going into rehab and feels very unloved, so I created this idea of designing everything on the costume in a heart shape: the wings, the sunglasses; it’s all about the idea about of him craving love.
You also created the Yellow Brick Road and the Elizabeth costumes: are those worn at poignant moments in the film?
The Yellow Brick Road costume is worn towards the end of the film when Elton is larger than life. The costume represents the yellow brick road from The Wizard of Oz: the coat is for the Lion, the silver shirt is for the Tin Man, and the blue suit and ruby red slippers are Dorothy. It’s a very important costume for the film and we couldn’t have created it without the crystals.
For the Elizabeth costume, I thought, Elton is royalty in a sense, and Queen Elizabeth I is one of our most iconic monarchs, so this costume is based around these Elizabethan outfits. We basically threw everything at it: fabrics, crystals, everything, and we paired it with these very exaggerated sunglasses – it was the perfect outfit for a performance where he goes kind of crazy.
Did Elton have any input for the costumes?
Elton and David saw all the outfits in their design form and in the studio. Elton loved all of his own costumes. There is a pair of boots we had made for the film, and he liked them so much that we had a pair made for him.
Which costume was the most fun?
All of them, that’s actually the truth. I genuinely love them all. For me, it’s a great partnership, Swarovski and Rocketman. I think it’s perfect.