MATRIX: Talk about one of the men’s costumes you created.

GLORIA: This costume belongs to the character of Dog Boy. He was recently filmed in the big Hel Night Club scene where a lot of the costumes are PVC and rubber latex – very kinky, if you’re into that sort of thing. He gets shot quite a few times in the chest, getting riddled with bullets. The Pyro Department had to rig up this costume with wires and batteries so they could blow it up from the inside out and all the blood could basically squirt out. He got shot in the arm as well. It is constructed of PVC with mesh at the sides and has underarm gussets to allow for arm movement, which a lot of the men’s costumes do have; a lot of Neo’s costumes have that as well. It allows for a lot of flexibility of movement when they’re doing their stunts.

Dog Boy was wearing a dog collar, a chain collar and a pair of tight fitting black PVC trousers with tight boots; quite a menacing look really, quite a scary character. We had to make eight of these jackets and another two have to be done now because they want to go over the scene again. This actor has a very small part. He comes in and gets thrown against the wall and gets riddled with bullets, like a lot of characters do; there’s a lot of shooting going on. I’ve gotten to learn a lot about special effects and pyro and the whole Gun Department, which is quite a big department here; there are quite a lot people involved with the pyro and special effects side of things.


MATRIX: How much do CG effects affect your work?

GLORIA: There is one scene in particular, involving Neo, where he actually goes up and flies around in the air, twisting around. To get that effect happening, he is wearing a special harness, which is a twisty belt, so the costume had to be split in two so he could be accommodated in this belt. What happens is that you can’t see the twist belt on the screen, so what they have to do is computer generate over the top of that to combine the top and the bottom of his costume. Eventually it will actually look like he goes up in the air, twists around, flies, then does somersaults and kicks people, but it takes a lot of work to get it happening. I have to make sure, even though it’s being digitally enhanced afterwards, that there is no excess fabric. The costume has to sit in such a way that they have a minimum amount of work to do when they go to digitally enhance it, because it costs a lot of money to shave bits of material off. So there’s a real coordinated effort to make sure that takes place.

MATRIX: Who decides how much is too much fabric?

GLORIA: The men in charge of those departments meet with Dan Bronson, who is the Costume Supervisor, and myself; he is with me all the time when we have these meetings, he is the liaison. Dan is from the United States and has worked on a lot of movies that involve special effects, so he has a background in that and can guide me as to how much fabric to put in or take out.

MATRIX: At this stage of shooting, have there been any other memorable scenes besides the scene in the Hel Night Club?

GLORIA: Yes, the Sub Metro scene, where there were a lot of men in trench coats, was quite memorable. There are a lot of fighting scenes, I saw one down in Stage 2 with Keanu and the Merovingian, the bad guy in this film. This Merovingian character lives in a virtual reality chateau, a medieval type of chateau, an amazing set, and the costumes were all fantastic, very elegant looking, very stylish. It was period inspired, but the fabrics were all modern. Watching Neo doing his wired up fighting and all his stunts, and having all the stunt guys come at him with various instruments of torture was quite an experience to see. I enjoyed watching the filming of it.


MATRIX: Did you also build the Merovingian’s costume?

GLORIA: The actor playing the Merovingian is Lambert Wilson, who has flown out from Paris, he is actually quite will known in France. He’s basically the bad guy in the film and lives in a virtual reality world inside a chateau. The Merovingian is supposed to be a wealthy character and has fantastic works of art and sculpture inside his chateau, and he’s manipulating his own reality. In the film he has a partner, his wife, played by an Italian actress, Monica Bellucci, who is dressed in latex most of the time.

The Merovingian costume is usually worn with a black shirt with a very high collar and a very nice cravat. In the Hel Night Club scene the coat was worn with a red shirt with a high collar and a cravat. The actual coat has a modern contemporary front with a period back and the lining is a vintage lining, which Kym chose from her own private sources, and is very colorful, oriental inspired. The coat had to have the feeling of being like a smoking jacket, a jacket that he could just lounge around the chateau in, and it also had to have a floaty feeling about it. Earlier, I was talking about period inspired costumes – the back of the Merovingian coat has been cut as you would cut a jacket in the 1800s with the style lines and the fullness in the skirt. It’s very nipped in at the waist – very fitted – so basically the look on Lambert Wilson is very broad shouldered with a very small waist and floating out at the back.

The movement of this coat was very important, so the fabric has a lot of movement to it. When the Merovingian walks and runs around the place, you actually have a lot of movement in the coat. We have put in extra pleat in the back to give it a bit more fullness, and there’s a bit of a bat wing span there. If you were to measure across the hem, there’s 4 meters of fabric, so that allows for a lot of movement and fluidity, which a lot of the coats I’ve been working on have got, it seems to be a theme. The two Directors like that look so they tend to repeat it over and over again for the main characters.

The Merovingian coat is made up of three types of fabric. There’s the grosgrain, which you normally use on lapels, and there’s a little insert with a pleat inside where we’ve used the old fashioned traditional key hole button holes. The lining comes right down to the cuff, so you get a taste of it as he puts his arm up to have a drink or something, you’ll be able to see just a touch of the lining. The shirt has long cuffs with holes for the cuff links that go through the actual shirt cuff, then through the top of the coat cuff. The sleeves are quite long, they actually come right down to his wrists. The pockets and the lapel are all in satin, specially tailored satin and grosgrain. On film you can actually pick up all the different shades of black because the grosgrain, the satin on the lapel, and the black of the wool all come up distinctly different shades of black.

MATRIX: Peter Robb-King, the Head of Makeup said they try to avoid setting THE MATRIX in any particular time period so it can’t be pinned down; is this also what you try to achieve in wardrobe?

GLORIA: I can see that because a lot of the cutting we have done is very period inspired, period as in 1800s. There are period elements in there combined with modern contemporary elements, so you wouldn’t be able to pin point the costumes really. There’s no science fiction type costume happening there either. It will be hard to place in terms of era when you look back on it in, say, fifty years time.

MATRIX: How has Neo’s costume developed for the sequels?

GLORIA: Neo’s costume basically represents the character he has become, more of a reverent sort of character. In the first movie it was announced that he is The One, so it goes one step further in this film, where there’s a comparison between him and a religious figure. The costume is very, I think, religious inspired, using the cassock, a traditional religious garment with a high collar. Neo is like a high priest and that is reflected in the costume. In the first film he was new to the game, he’d gone from one world into another, and in the sequels he takes it further, he takes on the mantle of being a leader, so the costume reflects that, but it still has a very similar look to the coat in the first film.

MATRIX: Thanks Gloria.

Interview by REDPILL
December 2001