The costume designer for Black Widow, Jany Temime, explains how Natasha Romanoff and Yelena Belova’s white suits were designed differently.
Black Widow’s costume designer, Jany Temime, explains how Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) and Yelena Belova’s (Florence Pugh) white suits were designed differently. The first blockbuster to be released as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Four takes place between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War. Following Natasha’s sacrifice for the soul stone in Avengers: Endgame, the film focuses on Black Widow’s legacy, wrapping up the loose ends of her MCU narrative.
Director Cate Shortland’s long-awaited solo film follows a fugitive Natasha, a.k.a. the Black Widow after being drawn to Budapest by her surrogate sister, and fellow Red Room trainee, Yelena. Together, the pair track down the paternal figures in Russia’s version of Captain America, Red Guardian (David Harbour), and Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz) to rectify their past. The chemistry/dynamic of Johansson and Pugh’s characters carries a good portion of Black Widow—from Yelena making fun of Natasha’s action poses to symbolically similar, yet different wardrobes.
In an interview with Variety, costume designer Jany Temime (Skyfall) spoke about creating a lot of costumes for Black Widow. Temime cited Russian and Norwegian armies as the inspirations for many of Yelena and Red Guardian’s looks while revealing she tweaked Natasha’s already-established costume to facilitate comfort, sculpting it to suit Scarlett’s body; using rubbery fabric and three millimeters of elastic fabric so it didn’t feel too tight. Again, Natasha and Yelena’s white costumes were inspired by soldiers wearing white to blend with snow. However, while Natasha’s is more superhero-like (made from fabrics used in scuba diving suits), Yelena’s garb focuses on function. Read what Temime had to say below:
“Since Yelena came from Russia, I looked at it from a different point of view,” said Temime. “I looked at photos of the Russian and Norwegian army and I came across some of the soldiers in the snow wearing white, and that’s where the white uniform idea came from…I wanted [Yelena’s] outfit to be more functional and more army-like. I used double fabric with cotton and nylon stitched together gave it volume which had this sportswear look to it. Her look was less of a superhero than just a normal one. We also had to introduce the green vest. She says in the film she bought this vest with all those pockets, and the idea was that she had come out of that brainwashed spy world, and buys that. So, I made something easy to wear, sturdy, practical, and based on post-‘50s sportswear fashion. When you look at the women in their different suits, I hope you can feel and see the difference between Russia and the USA.”
Natasha’s status as an Avenger is brought up more than a few times in Black Widow. In many ways, Yelena holds this against Natasha, mostly because when the latter escaped the Red Room, she never came back for Yelena. Yelena was completely removed from a life of freedom, fame, and glory. She seems hilariously aware of “cool ways to die” in the film—which, in a roundabout way, emphasizes her view of the Black Widow moniker. Yelena and Natasha’s differing white suits reflect how their paths diverged but their characters; Black Widow has certainly been sexualized/glamorized in the past and her gritty, dark solo film deconstructs that.
Temime’s costumes play a huge role in conveying the complexes of Natasha and Yelena’s relationship. At the end of the film, Natasha, Yelena, and their family successfully take down General Dreykove and the Red Room. As they say goodbye to one another, Yelena offers Natasha her extremely functional vest—the first garment she bought for herself after escaping the Red Room. Once a blonde-haired Natasha becomes part of the Secret Avengers (Infinity War), she’s seen wearing her sister’s green vest. Black Widow’s post-credits scene takes place after Endgame and puts Yelena on a collision course with Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner). Pugh has already signed on to appear in the Disney+ series Hawkeye, and it’s rumored that Pugh will be taking up the Widow moniker or some variation of it. Regardless, it’s now known that the new Black Widow believes in both function and form.
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- Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)Release date: Feb 17, 2023
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)Release date: May 05, 2023
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