Hello! I see you are very knowledgeable about Cats Warsaw and I would love to know if you have any information about the costume design. The choices made are very interesting and honestly I don't understand it but would love to know more about why they look the way they do!
Yes, I actually do know some stuff. Most of it is from the interview with the costume designer Dorota Kołodyńska, from Cats Warsaw book, with some of my own observations. So thank you for the question and let’s get started cuz it’s gonna be long
The very short answer as to why Cats Warsaw costumes look like they do is: ‘cuz London said so and the fashion world was what it was
The long answer is under the cut ‘cuz it got very long, and it has some pics
The long answer: despite it being a non-replica, and first full non-replica at that, all the creative decisions had to get a green light form Webber/Mackintosh/The really useful theatre company/whoever else in London. The main rule they gave was that it can't be similar to the og show, like at all. This is also why it takes place in the backyard of an abandoned film studio instead of a junkyard. And that “no similar things” rule combined with a different setting and a “desire to make Cats more ours” resulted in such a different look.
Here, for example are first projects for Jennyanydots and Tugger’s costumes
And here is the first project for Demeter (top) and I believe the final one for Grizabella (bottom)
The main inspiration for the costumes (and make up too) was actually what was then happening in the fashion world. That’s why there are so many different textures (feathers, pieces of fur, mesh tops etc), the asymmetry in where those pieces are located and the neon colours on some costumes. Wigs were made after the costumes were complete, and they were supposed to be “modern and timeless”.
The main inspiration for make-up (which was the last to be designed, after the costumes and most of the wigs were complete) was the then recent Dior show, prepared by Sergiusz Osmański who was make up designer for Cats Warsaw. There of course were other inspirations too, for example the inspiration for Macavity and his shiny pants evolved from Mad Max, through the Matrix, to anime. Also, I believe the actors had some input too, at least a tiny bit, since for example Misto’s famous facial hair was, and still is, his first actor’s day-to-day look.
Surprisingly (or not) choreography was also a major influence. Since there is a lot of modern dance mixed in, most leotards have wide legs, instead of fitted ones, as apparently is custom in modern dance. And since the characters are grouped into two camps: the singers and the dancers, there was more room for creativity. And by that I mean, the dancers’ costumes are usually much simpler out of necessity, while the singers, since they don’t have to move as much, could have much more elaborate costumes.
For example, Carbucketty and Alonzo’s costumes are very similar, but since Alonzo is a dancer and an acrobat he just gets a usual simple top-pants combo with some shoulder fur, while Carbucketty who is a singer wears overalls instead.
Carbucketty (left) and Alonzo (right), not the best quality, but it’s the best picture I have rn
Another example: Mistoffelees got top-pants combo with a vest to which his tail is fixed, while Skimble (who doesn’t really dance) wears a suit jacket and puffy pants with calf-high boots.
I’ll be using this picture of Misto till I die, you can pretty easily see all the parts of his costume (except for wig and make up). And this is the brown Skimble I’ll also be mentioning later, you can see his costume has much more details (like the watch chain and the watch) than Misto’s
There are some divisions between the characters, and it reflects in their costumes. As usual, some cats have owners and collars and are more put together, while others are strays and thus a little bit messier. Some are pure breads, some are not. Another divide was determined by gender, with toms being generally more on the brownish-greyish side with bigger shoulders (lots of fur there) and queens generally being slimmer and more colourful. This rule was mostly for the dancers’ costumes, but wasn’t that strictly enforced.
Another interesting thing, was that there was an intention for a yet another divide, this time between Munkustrap and Tugger. As in, they tried to make it clear that, and I quote: “brave Munkustrap is the leader of the wild, predatory, grey cats, and the Rum Tum Tugger, a type of youthful idol - the leader of young, cheerful, playful and colourful cats.” The designer saying that the clan is divided very strictly into those two groups, and from what I can see, yeah they somewhat succeeded in achieving that, but again, I think it ended up being less strict of a rule.
As for the pattens on the costumes, each cat has a unique patten designed by Mrs. Kołodyńska with some help from her graphic designer friend, which was then printed on fabric and pieced together.
Here is how some of the patterns looked like up close
Similarly, each cat has a unique wig and make up. And (and this is really important) if they play the same character, each actor has their own version of the costume. Sometimes those changes in costumes are tiny, for example the only changes between three Misto costumes that I can see are slightly different amounts of white in the pattern and the wigs (first Misto has this messy one that kinda makes it look like he has ears, while the other two have much neater, kinda curly wigs, with one of them having small curly ponytail added).
Since I don’t have any good enough pics of different Mistos, and it’s too late for me to look for any, here are both Tuggers instead, and as you can see the main differences are the patten on the top and the wigs
On the other side there is Skimble who in one version is more orange (here) and in the other more brown (the one earlier).
But the most differences has definitely Munkustrap with quite a different look for each of his four actors (and they differ in patterns, colour, wigs, make up and how see-through are the mesh tops). This is awesome, and it’s one of the things that really helped me determine the cast in the recording.
Here are make-up projects for one of the male kittens (left) and for one of the Munkustraps (right)
Here is another Munkustrap getting ready (you can see the differences in make up)
And here is the third one who is mix of the two others (his wig is also kinda a mix). And that’s just make up and wigs
And here I will end this general overview of Cats Warsaw costumes and why they look like that, mostly ‘cuz there isn’t that much more info on that topic. I plan on doing some more thorough break down of the costumes, possibly with each character getting their own post, but that’s for the, hopefully near, future.
If you got all the way to here, then I can’t thank you enough for reading it all, and I really hope that you like it, and again thank you so much for asking this, I’m always happy to talk about Cats Warsaw
If you (or anyone else reading this) would like to be tagged in the future in the costume breakdown posts, then please let me know, I’ll be happy to do it
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