Unlike other musicals, Notre Dame de Paris has a very different take on costumes. Like every interpretation of costumes, it’s part the current style, in this case late 90’s in France and the period the story, which takes place in 1482. However, the costume designer, Fred Sathal didn’t seem take much from the fashions of story’s period, she pretty much did her own thing.
Fred Sathal is a couture fashion designer who got her start in theater. Her designs are described a luxury bohemian and she likes sequins and beading and has unique techniques on fabric manipulation. Her point of view is clear in Notre Dame de Paris’ costumes.
The costumes in Notre Dame de Paris are really polarizing. I have seen some hate, down right hate, on Esmeralda’s green dress and I can see where that comes from. The original dress doesn’t move very well and the details on it, with its unique swirled velvet-like fabric, patched work seams that are dyed slightly different and sequins, get lost and aren’t that notable. The costumes have so many little details that they aren’t that well suited for a stage show.
These costumes just don’t read as medieval. They do seem to have more of a late 90’s couture vibe while sort of relating to the characters. I would say that as a standard representation of a costume, Quasimodo’s is the best. That being said I do like the characters have some color coding, they wear a mostly a single solid color so that a member of the audience can identify the character from far away.
The costumes differ somewhat from show to show, cast to cast especially both of Esmeralda’s costumes and Fleur-de-Lys‘ to a fair degree. It’s kind of amazing how much the green dress differs when they try so hard to keep it the same. The exception is the Italian version which is similar in concept but very different, it has more movement and is more exaggerated. Really I could spends weeks discussing these costumes in depth, hell I could spend weeks just talking about the fabric of the green dress, but I will not.
This costume are more representation of the characters rather expressing grandiose musical costume preferences while maintain the designer style and the minimal nature of the show. If you like them, great, so do I and if you don’t than it’s understandable.
Fun Fact- Phoebus’ chain mail shirt is real chain mail and Patrick Fiori lost like ten pounds running around while wearing it