When I first saw the trailer for The Love Witch, my jaw-dropped at the gorgeously vibrant, highly-stylized visuals. The scenes looked incredibly authentic, as though they were ripped straight out of old Technicolor films from the 1960s. The film tells the story of Elaine (played by Samantha Robinson), a modern-day witch whose goal in life is to make men fall desperately in love with her, which she does via magick.
There are many different themes explored in The Love Witch — relationships, the male gaze, narcissism, witchcraft, revenge, power, and feminism. Today, we are focusing solely on the aesthetics, namely the costume design. The film’s colorful costumes are set against a vivid set design, adding a whole different level of enchantment to Elaine’s spells and potions. We are so used to seeing witches either portrayed as ugly (Hocus Pocus), or incredibly beautiful (but solely wearing head-to-toe black, like in American Horror Story: Coven.) Elaine’s sartorial style is the opposite of the typical cinematic witch — a psychedelic, mystical rainbow. She’s Morticia Addams meets Mary Quant.
Anna Biller not only directed, wrote, and produced The Love Witch, but also made many of the costumes and props for the movie, just as she did with her 2007 film, Viva. We talked to Anna about the inspiration behind Elaine’s outfits and the classic beauty icons that inspired her makeup looks. (We had to specifically ask about Elaine’s eyeshadow, which Anna said was from Shiseido.)
HelloGiggles: What was the inspiration behind the outfits? Were many of them vintage/thrifted or handmade?
Anna Biller: I wanted the costumes to come from Elaine’s romantic self-fantasies. I made a lot of them, and also a lot of them were vintage. I tried to sew as little as possible, but there’s always a ton of sewing involved no matter what! (Including tailoring men’s suits and that sort of thing). The most laborious task was making all of the costumes for the Renaissance scene, each of which required several pieces, plus hose, hats, and headdresses.
HG: Did you have a favorite outfit of Elaine’s?
AB: I really love the little white linen dress she wears near the end, a vintage dress from London. And I also love the two ‘60s-Victorian dresses she wears, one pink and one yellow — her “tea dresses” that were made by Gunne Sax.