Fashion Tribe

Of medieval armor and dressing evil

June 20th, 2012

Nadine Kam photo
Armor for German warriors and their horses, by Kunz Lochner, dated 1548, on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Below is a Met photo of a suit of Italian armor from the 1400s.

armedIt's amusing and somewhat sad that I've come to relate to some aspects of history in terms of pop culture and film. When I think of medieval armor, for instance, I never gave much thought to the heft of it and how it might have felt to wear and move in it. That's because, without much suspension of disbelief when watching such period films, I just thought of it as light, flimsy Foamcore props.

But in New York recently, where I dropped in the the Metropolitan Museum of Art to check out the "Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations" exhibition, I was mesmerized by a walk-through of the armor galleries, with all manner of shields, chainmail and weaponry.

It's only upon seeing the real thing that I had a better idea of how much they weighed and how strong men had to be to carry both shield and sword while maneuvering in armored suits that I'm sure would have made it pretty difficult to get up if they toppled from their horse.

People were much smaller at the time, so much of the armor is no bigger than a 21st century woman.

Seeing the exhibition made me anxious to see the costumes for "Snow White and the Huntsman." Yes, it's one of those movies where you go for the costumes, not the story or acting, although I think it might have been better if "The Hunger Games' " Jennifer Lawrence had been cast as Snow White instead of the single-expression, somnambulent Kristen Stewart. She was so unbelievable in the part of a beauty radiating inner innocence that she was like a thorn in the film.

The real star was Charlize Theron's costumes as the evil queen Ravenna. Costume designer Colleen Atwood must have been thrilled to be able to dress her, with seemingly no limitations as to cost, materials or imagination. It was almost like a fashion show because Theron had to do little to impress but stand there and glower like a model with attitude.

armor2Kristen Stewart in "Snow White and the Huntsman."

costumeCharlize Theron's costumes by Colleen Atwood were sinister but breathtaking.

costume3Her wedding gown was part reptilian, part armored exoskeleton


One Response to “Of medieval armor and dressing evil”

  1. Lawrence:

    Spot on with this write-up!

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