Simplicity Fit for a Queen


The Movie: “Queen Margot.”

The Setup: Based on Alexandre Dumas’ novel, Catholic Marguerite of Valois--also known as Margot (Isabelle Adjani)--marries Protestant Henri of Navarre (Daniel Auteuil) in a plan arranged by their mothers to unite France in 1572. Six days later, thousands of Protestants are murdered in the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre.

The Costume Designer: Berlin-based theatrical-costume and set designer Moidele Bickel. Her other film was Eric Rohmer’s “La Marquise d’O.”

The Look: Sixteenth-Century lite. Stretching the timeline and muting the period’s regal glitz, Bickel favors a streamlined theatricality. She employs humble fabrics, forgoes such elaborate flourishes as beading, and holds the starch in the accordion-pleated collars for mobility’s sake. Jewelry is limited to pearls. Her budget dictated the uncomplicated approach, but she says she would have kept it simple anyway. Fancy clothing would mean that “I wouldn’t be able to see the actor, and what interests me most is the actor’s work.”


Trivia: For Margot’s wedding day, Bickel substitutes her historically correct crown--a round, stiff number--with a delicate tiara of wired pearls and stones that would suit any modern romantic bride.

You Should Know: Most of the costumes were made of cotton sateen and linen. Margot’s lavish-looking “brocade” gowns and the opulent robes worn by Catholic bishops came from inexpensive fabrics printed with luxuriant patterns.

Quoted: “The period is not exact. The real period, the French Renaissance, I don’t like very much. I chose a fashion period which is a little more free, more Baroque,” Bickel says.

Inspiration: The paintings of Theodore Gericault, Jacopo da Pontormo and Francisco de Zurbaran for Margot’s dresses.

Sources: All of the principals’ costumes and 600 of the 800 extras’ costumes were custom-made in Paris.