How Respect‘s Fashion Helped Jennifer Hudson Transform Into The Queen Of Soul

Recreating the wardrobe of someone as exuberant as Aretha Franklin is not an independent job. Costume designer Clint Ramos didn’t take a single stitch in Franklin’s wardrobe for Respect, starring Jennifer Hudson from Dreamgirls, who created around 80 looks for the biopic.

Unlike the costumes found in most biographical films, the handcrafted pieces in Respect are not replicas of Franklin’s real life appearance. Taking a more holistic approach, Ramos researched the Queen of Soul – studied black and white photos of her throughout her life and read biographies of her loved ones – and used that knowledge to design a Hudson-tailored wardrobe. I first looked at the clothes, watched how Aretha wore them, and then somehow I forgot, ”he tells Refinery29. “I put them aside on purpose and [instead] thought of Jennifer. “

Ramos, who started working on the film when the script was still being written, spent hours with Hudson doing research and sketching to understand how she would transform into her character. “It was really important how she wanted to create Aretha,” says Ramos. When the actress lived in Franklin, Ramos gradually filled Respect’s wardrobe. I did my work in parallel and we would meet every now and then, ”he says. “So a lot of the clothes and costumes you see are really my take on Aretha’s clothes, given how Jennifer played them.”

R_27620_RC Jennifer Hudson plays Aretha Franklin and Forest Whitaker as her father CL Franklin in RESPECT A Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film Copyright: Quantrell D. Colbert

In his opinion, this was the only way to tackle this project due to the lack of photographs from the years before Columbia Records. (Franklin worked with the label from 1960 to 1965.) [1960], a lot of costumes for Jennifer and even for young, young Aretha had to come from me, ”says Ramos. Much of it was really just my imagination and that the costumes match the time in terms of color and shape. “

Additionally, Ramos says he spent a lot of time imagining what a young woman from a wealthy black family in one of America’s major cities – Franklin grew up in Detroit – would wear day in and day out. “CL [Franklin, Aretha’s father,] was a rock star preacher, ”he says. “Aretha came from funds.” Your wardrobe in the film should reflect that. Franklin can be seen on the big screen in the most decadent robes, wrapped in furs, diamonds, luxury handbags and handcrafted clothes. “Fur reminded them of their wealth – it reminded them of their success,” says Ramos.

The story goes on

Her appearance looks were just as lavish, from the feather-laden coat gown she wore to sing “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” at Detroit’s Cobo Hall, and her bright white dresses that hit Madison Square in 1968 Garden and L ‘Olympia are showing their beaded, bell-shaped number – hand-embroidered by Ramos’ favorite tailor Eric Winterling for Hudson – in New York and Paris respectively – which she wore in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.

R_18896_RC (ctr) Marlon Wayans plays Ted White and Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin in RESPECT A Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film Copyright: Quantrell D. Colbert

R_18896_RC (ctr) Marlon Wayans plays Ted White and Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin in RESPECT A Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film Copyright: Quantrell D. Colbert

While the film celebrates Franklin’s life, it doesn’t deviate from the hardships the actor went through. “There are some really dark moments,” says Ramos, referring to scenes where Franklin loses her mother at age 10, has her first child at age 12, and struggles with alcohol. “So one of the first questions I asked Jennifer was, ‘How far do you want to go?'” When she replied, “Everything,” he knew he had to look great that matched her commitment.

At her lowest point, “she stormed into a pair of panties, no wig, no makeup, literally cried, and was completely depressed,” explains Ramos. For him, beauty lies in duality. “In order to [viewers] To really appreciate her high, we had to present the extremes of both, ”he says of the range of looks shown in the film.

Although Franklin is now considered a great fashion icon, according to Ramos, she didn’t think about style as much as many of her contemporaries. Ramos says that unlike Diana Ross, Franklin was not loyal to certain brands, trends, or signature looks. “Aretha used clothing to express her feelings, her politics, her beliefs,” he says. She wore her clothes the way she wanted so she could express herself. ”No wonder Hudson, who is fully committed to the role, uses her costumes in Respect to take advantage of the icon : a collection without rivals.

Respect premieres only in theaters on Friday August 13th.

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