A fashion extravaganza – West Side Story

07 November 2022
A look at the colourful costumes in this classic musical.
people dancing

Lights, camera, fashion! Steven Spielberg’s 2021 version of the classic musical West Side Story is a magnificent explosion of dance, music, colour, and style. The story is timeless, but the spectacular fashion is what captures your attention. Let’s take a look at how the costumes were brought to life in this beloved musical.

Award-winning costume designer Paul Tazewell is the man responsible for the elaborate costumes. He previously teamed up with Lin-Manuel Miranda, working on the costumes for his hit Broadway musical Hamilton. For West Side Story, Tazewell wanted to use colours and styles that captured the rich and diverse cultures of the inhabitants of New York in the 1950s.

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Every outfit can tell a story and give the character more personality. You can tell a lot about a person by the way they dress. Tazewell made sure to carefully differentiate between the Jets and the Sharks who both come from different cultural and social backgrounds. For the Jets, Caucasians with a tough background, he made their clothing more casual and on the go; while the Puerto Rican Sharks dress with flair.

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Paul Tazewell said everything was important when creating the outfits: from the fabric to the colours to the fit. Attention to detail was very important and the team worked carefully to make every outfit stand out. The dresses were designed to allow more freedom of movement for the dancers. Tazewell had several colour palettes and designs and Spielberg was quite involved in the process and had to give the go-ahead on them. Fun fact: There were about 400 extras cast for the street dance scenes

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Watch director Steven Spielberg and designer Paul Tazewell give more insight into the costume design for the movie.

Watch West Side Story on Sunday 20 November at 21:30 on M-Net channel 101. 

Watch the trailer here.