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FN Spy: Building the Look of 'Noah'

The film's costume designer shares on-set secrets for shoeing Russell Crowe and the rest of the cast.

It took a village to revive the tale of Noah’s ark. In fact, a crew of about 70 helped to make the costumes, said Michael Wilkinson, the costume designer behind the film, which was shot over a four-month period in Iceland. Spy got the inside scoop on Wilkinson’s shoe styles for leads Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly and Emma Watson in “Noah,” directed by Darren Aronofsky.

What was the vision behind this take on Noah’s story?
“Darren created this post-apocalyptic world where man had destroyed his environment. It was a post-industrial environment, but you didn’t know if the film was in the past or 5 million years in the future. For the shoes, I was inspired by ultra-modern, but primitive designs by Rick Owens and [Martin] Margiela. So I decided to use beautiful, raw and uneven textiles for edgy silhouettes, and 97 percent of the shoes were made from scratch.”

Tell us more about what went into making the shoes.
“We used recycled rubbers for the soles and thick canvas materials to sustain the jagged, unpredictable terrain in Iceland, as well for flood scenes, which we created with rain towers on set. For Emma, we wanted a fashion-forward toughness because she endures so much. For Jennifer, it was about stateliness, so her boots were sturdy with strappy details. For Ray [Winstone], he was the film’s center of corruption. We had metal plates added to his chunky military boots to reinforce that. And for Russell, it’s about the psychological places Noah goes to, so we create lots of hand-stitched pieces with thick waxed thread to show his unraveling.”

Were there any fun moments on set?
“There’s a myth in Iceland where trolls come out if you kick the rocks, and they play tricks on you. During a scene of Russell’s at 3 a.m., he kicked one of the rocks and we stopped shooting for a second. In the next take, his boots completely split open and we thought, wow, those trolls got instant payback.”

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