Film Costume Review – Taking Woodstock

(Originally blogged December 26, 2009)

Real looks of 1969 - Hippies in their van and everyday casual clothing

We sometimes think of costumed films as having to take place a long time ago. However, I think films set in periods within living memory can be more challenging because there are many who will remember the era and mistakes will leap off the screen.

Last year Danny Glickman did a phenomenal job of creating the costumes for Milk. Set in the late 1970s, he caught the corduroy and denim soft brown look of the era. Glickman was nominated for a costume Oscar however, Michael O’Connor took home the Oscar for the equally well done, but flashier and more historical The Duchess.

The original vest worn by Michael Lang in 1969 was loaned to the actor playing Michael Lang in the movie

Like Milk, Taking Woodstock has phenomenal attention to detail. Researched and recreated by Joseph G. Aulisi and his twenty member team of costume assistants, the film accurately captures every type of clothing (but haute couture) worn in the summer of 1969. This film is about how the Woodstock music festival came to be in Bethel New York and is based on true events as accounted by Elliot Tiber, the central figure who pulled together the various elements that added up to an historically important moment in time.

The actual Woodstock festival was filmed from beginning to end, and it is obvious the costumers studied this film carefully for ideas. It would have been stupid not to take advantage of this remarkable document for costuming references but some costumers ignore the obvious and wave away authenticity as unimportant compared to their own creativity. This was not the case with Joseph Aulisi who aimed for historical perfection.

The film deserves high praises for its art direction and costuming. I can’t find any faults so I have to give it a 10/10 for accuracy in dress history.

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