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‘Dune: Part Two’ Costumes Were Inspired by 1950s Paris Runways and Balenciaga

Jacqueline West searched far and wide to bring the expansive world of Denis Villeneueve’sDune: Part Two” to life. The seasoned artisan recruited the help of locals in Budapest and jewelry makers in the Middle East to tell a visual story through costume, particularly with the female characters in the film. She also looked to the past, finding inspiration in 1920s Tiffany jewelry, Balenciaga and even the haute couture renaissance of the 1950s.

The sequel builds upon the worlds of Arrakis and Giedi Prime, but also introduces Florence Pugh as Princess Irulan, a Bene Gesserit and the daughter of the Emperor (Christopher Walken). Lea Seydoux, also playing a Bene Gesserit, appears as a mysterious woman drawn into the Harkonnen world. The addition of Pugh and Seydoux gave West a chance to expand the looks she had created in the first film.

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Here she breaks down her approach and influences behind some of the key female players in “Dune: Part Two.”

Princess Irulan

In crafting Princess Irulan, West wanted to align with the novel. As a princess, the costume designer had some restraints with themes of modesty and simplicity. “She’s a Bene Gesserit. She’s royal and luxurious, but she’s a nun. It’s a sisterhood, an intergalactic nunnery,” West explains.

However, West was dealing with a character who she says is “extremely intelligent and she’s playing on many fronts. She’s the voice of reason, the conscience for the Emperor.”

In costuming her, West used medieval references, particularly in her headdress. West had also gone to Catholic school and recalled “how nun’s faces seemed constrained by their habits. So, I did a lot of headdresses. And having access to the most incredible beaders in the world in Budapest, they made all of those by hand. It took weeks to make. We also made a mold of Florence’s head so they fit perfectly.”

West notes that since the princess was also a warrior, she incorporated a medieval armory aspect to her clothes, creating a chainmail dress and metal headpiece. “She really fights for what she believes in, and for her father’s place in the universe.”

Lady Jessica

To further Lady Jessica’s (Rebecca Ferguson) costume arc as she travels from the lush planet of Caladan to Arrakis, West was inspired by fabrics worn by the Touareg culture in Morocco. “I looked at how they use layers of linen and gauze in light colors to repel the sun,” she says.

With Lady Jessica pregnant, West also expanded the way her outfits fitted as her belly grew. “I started to make the fabrics lighter and not so luxe. But I kept that medieval feeling through the movie for her, but her wardrobe becomes more desert-friendly. And I incorporated a lot of Fremen writing into her patterns.”

When it came to jewelry, West found pieces from the Middle East, North Africa and even 1920s Tiffany pieces, all of which she took apart with the idea of reconstructing them to look like futuristic objects.

Chani

DUNE: PART TWO, (aka DUNE: PART 2, aka DUNE 2), Zendaya, 2024. ph: Niko Tavernise / © Warner Bros. / Courtesy Everett Collection
DUNE: PART TWO, (aka DUNE: PART 2, aka DUNE 2), Zendaya, 2024. ph: Niko Tavernise / © Warner Bros. / Courtesy Everett Collection

Chani is a warrior princess. As far as West was concerned, there were two aspects she needed to consider: “I needed to keep her quite tough. But, I needed her to also be soft and romantic for Timothée and for their love affair to evolve.”

With the unisex stillsuits looking identical, West looked for ways to expand Chani’s outfits with raw silks and linens that would lend themselves to her sexuality. Says West, “I wanted to give her a real femininity, and her body is so beautiful. I could put her in a caftan and it would still show through.”

Elsewhere, she kept Chani in “very dark and non-light” colors — except for that scene where she appears in his vision. “She’s like an angel in that white dress. It’s simple and almost angelic.”

Margot Fenring

Lea Seydoux’s Margot Fenring was one character West was delighted to bring to life. “She’s royalty.”

Haute couture was the way to go for her look. In keeping with the Bene Gesserit, West says, “I relied on Balenciaga. I got a lot of inspiration from there. I also looked at Paris runways in the 1950s.”

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