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Did You Ever Notice... Gandalf the Grey's Costume?

Arwen's daughter
Half-elven


Jun 17 2008, 8:30pm

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Did You Ever Notice... Gandalf the Grey's Costume? Can't Post



Gandalf's costume is one I would describe as deceptively simple. It looks like a plain grey robe, but there's so much more going on here. Again, I don't think I've documented all of the details that can be found here.

Around the neck and shoulders is a yoke (a fitted part) and the rest of the robe is created by box-pleated fabric that meets into that. Even the sleeves have deep box pleats at the shoulder. These pleats are almost certainly sewn down at the waist to keep them in place. Underneath the robe he wears a shirt with knitted sleeves. These serve several purposes. Sometime around Caradhras or Moria he pokes a hole in them so he can wear them like mittens. Also, the costumers can tack the oversleeves to them so that his sleeves will stay in place most of the time. (Think about it; have you ever seen Gandalf's elbows?) Ian McKellen was always concerned that there should be mud on his hem and that if he had been riding the mud should be further up on the gown. He wanted Gandalf to look a little shabby.

They used specially woven cotton from Indonesia for this costume. The dye and aging process took 3 weeks to get it to the proper roughness.



The front of his robe actually has a slit almost up to the waist to facilitate easy riding and fighting. Underneath he wears something like a cross between culottes and Japanese hakama. Which boils down to mean very wide pants! I'm afraid I couldn't find a great picture of this. The pants have a painted decoration at the bottom according to those who've seen it on display!



Some detail shots of the robe. You can see there is some grey on grey embroidery around the seams.







Gandalf wears two different cloaks in FOTR. The first is a coarse material (wool?) with a deep hood in the back:





Around Rivendell (I think) he picks up a much nicer cloak without the hood.



And just to dispel your illusions, in this picture you can see how the filmmakers tacked the front and back sides together under his sleeve to hold it in place Smile (you can see a little dimple where the thread is pulling)



Of course, I wonder what his costume will look like in The Hobbit.

You can always see more details and pictures at AlleyCatScatch.

So, what do you think about this costume?


Did You Ever Notice? is a running look at some of the detail put into the costumes and armor of LotR. It's a roving discussion that follows no particular order and appears on no particular day. Expect me when you see me! You can always find our previous discussions at my Costume Discussion Archive.



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Finduilas101
Rivendell


Jun 17 2008, 9:10pm

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Yes, Indeed! [In reply to] Can't Post

At first glance, no one ever thinks much of costumes like Gandalf's. I mean, all you see is gray, right? Or, in the case of Saruman, all you see is white. It takes a lot of close looking to see what detail actually went into some of the plainer looking costumes. The costume department for LOTR did an amazing job with all of the costumes, and most of the time no one notices!!! I'm glad that you sought to draw people's attention to this. Gandalf's gray costume is indeed more detailed than in looks, especially when you can view stills like the ones you have.

"I like cooking, but I like other people cooking more." -David Wenham

"I think being different, going against the grain of society, is the greatest thing in the world." -Elijah Wood.


weaver
Half-elven

Jun 17 2008, 11:09pm

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"It's not easy wearing grey... [In reply to] Can't Post

..it seems you blend in with so many other ord'nary things..."

Gandalf's grey outfit looks like the kind of thing a world-traveler would wear. It was interesting to read about the things they did to make it "authentic" -- those three weeks of roughing it up paid off!

It's also a kind of "deceiving" outfit -- lots of layers to it and tricks up the sleeve -- literally, so that we don't get to see Sir Ian's elbows!

I did not know there were some kind of pants under it, but that makes sense -- how else could you ride a horse? (And it would be awfully cold on Caradhras without them!) I guess I figured it was just a kind of long robe underneath...

The hat is something I know they really struggled with as well -- I went to the hat tutorial on the AlleyCatScratch site, but it's not there anymore, alas. Does anyone remember any of the details about what they went through to get one they liked?

Thanks as always, Arwen's Daughter!


Weaver



Elven
Valinor


Jun 18 2008, 7:58am

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The man could make hessian look classy ... oh wait a minute ... [In reply to] Can't Post

Wink
I always thought Gandalfs Grey costume looked Elvish - like the cloaks in some way - it changed colour to suit - (yes I understand lighting and filters and CGI had something to do with it Wink) ... but it always looked like something which would hide him easily if he was travelling in the wild ...
I also think it looks as if it would weigh quite a bit ...

I know the white outfit is featured in the EE's - and there is so much under the white cloak - but I wonder about the grey outfit - how many layers Sir Ian had to wear under that.

I think there was some discrepancy over his hat at the beginning ... but thats exactly how I imagined his hat to be ... love it.

Thank you Arwen's Daughter for another costume treat!

Cheers Elven x


Were off to Hobbiton finally!

Tolkien was a Capricorn!!
Russell Crowe for Beorn!!



bearwen
Lorien


Jun 18 2008, 8:00am

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Gandalf's costume [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you, Arewn's daughter, for the interesting post, I love Gandalf's costume and knew the hat and it's size had cause them problems but I hadn't really thought too much about the details of the costume Gandalf wears. Like everything in these films huge care and detail has gone into the smallest of props and costume, meaning that Middle Earth feels real to all involved. I remember Bernard Hill saying that he totally felt like a king in the scene where he is being dressed for battle because of the quality of the costume, including painted motifs on the inside that only he and the dressers saw. It is quality like that that means the costumes look and move in an authentic way and I hope we can expect the same standards in the Hobbit. I'm new to the site so sorry if I'm just repeating what every one knows! I shall be taking a look at your "Did you notice...?" archive as soon as I have time, thank you!


Elberbeth
Tol Eressea


Jun 18 2008, 2:42pm

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I always enjoy these posts [In reply to] Can't Post

even if I don't often comment. But the incredible details of the costuming is marvellous and blows me away!

Thanks.

"There are some things that it is better to begin than to refuse, even though the end may be dark."


Arwen's daughter
Half-elven


Jun 18 2008, 4:07pm

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I didn't know about the pants either! [In reply to] Can't Post

I guess that I assumed like you that there was just another robe or something underneath. I'll admit that I never thought about how Gandalf rides in that dress Wink I wish that there were a better picture somewhere of them, though.

That hat! There's a story Ngila talks about in the extras about the first time they tried it on Ian McKellen and he was so skeptical about it. Her impression of him is hilarious. But it turns out that the hat was perfect!



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Arwen's daughter
Half-elven


Jun 18 2008, 4:17pm

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Ngila felt the same way about Wizards and Elves! [In reply to] Can't Post

Though until now, I never saw it in Gandalf the Grey. But you're right, it's so remniscent of those cloaks. I imagine he was great at hiding and pulling practical jokes on the Fellowship!

As far as I can tell he just has the two layers plus the cloak. The robe, the shirt with "mitten" sleeves, the pants, and presumably his own undergarments. Though, in this costume, it would not surprise me at all to learn there's another layer we can't see!



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Arwen's daughter
Half-elven


Jun 18 2008, 4:29pm

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Thanks for letting me ramble on! [In reply to] Can't Post

I really love these costumes and all the detail that has gone into them! And as my mom always taught me to share, I thought I'd bring some of that to everyone here. I'm just glad that 18 of these posts now, we're still discovering new things.



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Arwen's daughter
Half-elven


Jun 18 2008, 4:39pm

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I'm glad you enjoy them. [In reply to] Can't Post

It's good to know that even a beat up old wizard's costume can be made interesting Cool Thanks for taking the time to post! It's good to know that these discussions have found an audience around here. I look forward to talking about more of the costumes.



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Peredhil lover
Valinor

Jun 18 2008, 6:05pm

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Sometimes I wonder [In reply to] Can't Post

how Ngila and her team felt - first they have to make wonderful costumes, and then they have to make them look so shabby and worn out. Gandalf the Grey's costume is probably the worst of these! My heart would bleed, if I were in her place, I believe. (But of course, I hate sewing anyway - takes me longer to sew a button on than to knit a sweater! Blush I'd never be able to have my work deliberate nearly destroyed afterwards!)

Gandalf's is one of these so deceptively unimpressive costumes. At first sight it is so shabby in comparison to many of the other costumes, but it is more to it than meets the eye.

And the hat ... in one of my film books Ngils told that they had to keep it in an wastebasket and had to make a big sign on it, always in fear someone would do what one does with a wastebasket - emptying it out. Laugh

I do not suffer from LotR obsession - I enjoy every minute of it.


Arwen's daughter
Half-elven


Jun 18 2008, 6:58pm

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These costumes are great! [In reply to] Can't Post

The details that don't show up on screen always amaze me. And to think that they did all of this on a tight budget and even tighter schedule. Some days I wonder how anyone stayed sane working on this production. But I'm so glad they did all of this!



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Arwen's daughter
Half-elven


Jun 18 2008, 7:08pm

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From my own point of view [In reply to] Can't Post

I've occassionally made costumes that have to be aged and it's very scary at first. But with some costumes, especially something like Gandalf's robes, it's just a part of making the costume in my mind. A pure, fresh garment would just look wrong so you have to think of the aging as another step in the process. You embroider a garment and then sandpaper it down sometimes Crazy. After all, the point of a costume is to blend into the movie and if you have to beat it half to death to achieve that then it's worth it to see it 'right' on screen. It's kind of like buying jeans with holes in them already...

I think Ngila was proud of how well her team managed to dirty up and destroy these costumes. It take talent and practice to get mud in just the right places.

P.S. Sorry, that's a little ramblier than usual...



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(This post was edited by Arwen's daughter on Jun 18 2008, 7:09pm)


Peredhil lover
Valinor

Jun 18 2008, 7:30pm

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On an intellectual level [In reply to] Can't Post

I know, of course, that they had to make the costume old and shabby. But still, my mind is screaming 'NO!!' at the thought of destroying them deliberately. Sandpapering them ... argh!! *shudders* Costume designers have to be brave people Wink

But I have to admit, they did a great job with it. It truly looks as if Gandalf has worn it for many years, in a totally believable way.

I do not suffer from LotR obsession - I enjoy every minute of it.


Magpie
Immortal


Jun 19 2008, 3:25am

Post #15 of 18 (20173 views)
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Aging costumes would be the best part of it for me. [In reply to] Can't Post

I talked earlier of making dolls and wanting to age the clothing so that it looked real, nature, lived in. I think there might be a slight difference in sensibility between a seamstress and a costumer. I can see most seamstresses stressing over stressing the clothes. But I bet most costumers thinks it's way cool to age the clothing. That's when the fun begins.



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Peredhil lover
Valinor

Jun 19 2008, 5:00am

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With Orc costumes I could do that [In reply to] Can't Post

I believe *grin* They have to bear rags, after all. But with the other ones I am not so sure. Well, as I said - I'm avoiding sewing as much as possible, and that's probably the problem. I'd be so proud to manage to make a costume at all that I couldn't do anything to take its shiny new look away Wink Maybe a repeat washing, yes, but sandpaper it? *shudders*

But I think you're right, there has to be a difference between seamstress and costume designer. The latter often have to make something that looks worn, and for them it is probably fun. To me, to watch how they do age a piece of cloth would be interesting, that much I have to admit!

I do not suffer from LotR obsession - I enjoy every minute of it.


grammaboodawg
Immortal


Jun 19 2008, 4:59pm

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I sure have!!! *geeky hand-clapping* [In reply to] Can't Post

I LOVE GANDALF THE GREY! White is cool, but Grey is AWESOME!

I saw this at the exhibit in Indianapolis... and cried. It's gorgeously rustic and lived-in. The hemming along the bottom is just like the cuffs... and there's a hidden pocket on the side where Ian McKellen kept his copy of The Lord of the Rings on him all the time. What I also love is the stitching/repair on his hat. You can especially see it when he hands it off to Pippin in Moria. It's the last time you see his hat. *sigh*

I love the thumb-holes and cape. I found a sweater that was given to the crew at the wrap of the films (NZ wool, of course). I wore it when we visited the Tolkien map exhibit in Chicago. It also hast those thumb-holes in it :D

These posts are FABULOUS! Thank you so much!

sample

"Barney Snow was here." ~Hug like a hobbit!~ "In my heaven..."



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Arwen's daughter
Half-elven


Jun 19 2008, 7:20pm

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I agree about the grey costume [In reply to] Can't Post

Gandalf the White is nice, but I've always like his grey costume better. I can't imagine Gandalf traipsing through the countryside or even visiting the Shire in that white getup.

I never realized that's the last time we see that hat! Whenever I see that scene from now on I'll think of it as the beginning of the end; the passing of an era. It's so sad that they couldn't just bleach it white and pop it back on his head Cool



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