‘The Host’ Costume Designer Offers Insight into the Film’s Clothing Intricacies

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Erin Benach, the costume designer for ‘The Host’ and the catalyst for changing the Seekers to white outfits in contrast to the black worn in the novel, shared with The Hollywood Reporter and Entertainment Weekly about her journey on this film. Costuming is often a part of film-making that is overlooked, especially by fans, but I think it is great to receive some insight into the thought processes that went into these costume decisions and the level of care she offered this film.

The Resistance:

“The alien occupation had been going on for about ten years,” Benach of her initial costume conception.. “There’s a paramilitary feel  to the humans hiding in the desert. They wear muted colors and lots of textures which acts as camouflage in their environment. Most of the clothing is form-fitting to allow for quick movement The clothing helps keep them alive. They become a part of the desert they are living off in order to survive the alien take over.” – THR

“These guys are the cave dwellers, they’re basically the human resistance who found each other and this secret cave. [The look] is definitely functional, utilitarian, paramilitary,” says Benach, who used pieces from Urban Outfitters. “They must be camouflaged and become a part of the land they are living off of in order to survive. I wanted [the audience] recognize, ‘Oh yeah, those are the humans that have left over clothing.’” – EW

The Seekers:

“I pitched the idea of white costumes for the Seekers. I liked the idea that this group you assume to be evil would not be in black. I like the idea that they visually peaceful and calming. And Stephenie was very receptive to the white vs. black change,” says Benach. – THR

“We built (made) all her pants, including the motorcycle jodhpurs. She also wore a Theory white leather jacket that had a honeycomb texture.” – THR

“We went through a ton of iterations. Everybody had their opinion — our director Andrew [Niccol], Stephenie, me… we all wanted the same thing, which was for the characters to have a very strong look. it was just how [to do it]. We wanted the Seekers to look and feel like they were coming from the same place as the Souls,” she says. – EW

“We also used white because we knew it would look really good in the desert, where a lot of their scenes were shot. Sometimes you really think of environment and how it’s going to stand out. Stephenie Meyer was totally on board with it too which was cool.” – EW

The Souls:

When the alien souls occupy human bodies, the actors wear what Benach calls “a stylized hybrid look of vintage and modern.” The men wear vintage T-shirts and ties with narrow suits and slim pants from H&M, Zara and Club Monaco.” The women all look like pretty, perfect Stepford Wives in retro ‘50s silhouettes in soft pastels. – THR

“It’s a little bit Plesantville, kind of a modernized perfected ’50s look, with clean lines and [clothes that] hug the body,” Benach says of the retro-inspired ensembles worn by the Souls. ”I would pair a vintage shirt with a modern pant, or I would take a detail from vintage top and recreate it with a slightly different collar and put it with a high waist, tapered pant.” – EW

“We wanted the world to have a happy but peaceful feeling, so nothing extremely bright or aggressive would work.” – EW

Saoirse:

“Saoirse liked that Melanie’s clothes were a dirtied down version of something she might wear in her real life.  But she also loved Wanda’s hyper-realized looks vintage pieces and the sweaters we made for her with cropped pants. She was really into the contrast. “ – THR

”She has these two extremes, [but] she actually has three generations of looks: the freedom fighter look when she’s one the run is a little survivalist, her flashback look, and her Soul look.” Inspired by “deconstructed fashion and simple pieces with obscure elements,” Benach used sheer materials and softer, more airy pieces to dress the character during scenes depicting pre-invasion times, then transitioned her into clothes made of heavier, more durable materials as is forced to become stronger and braver. “The idea [for Wanda’s Soul look] was that it was this uniform. She has the exact same shirt in different colors.” – EW

Benach is currently working on another film with Ronan, Ryan Gosling’s How to Catch a Monster.

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