As with all other aspects of the production, authenticity was vital to the design of the thousands of costumes needed to outfit the massive cast, stuntmen and extras of Troy. However, as the story takes place 1,200 years BC, there is very little reference information that actually survived. Homer’s descriptions in The Iliad are based on the clothing and armor of his time, three or four hundred years after the events in the film take place. Acclaimed costume director Bob Ringwood had to make as much of the available resources as possible.
“I got catalogues from every museum around the world that had anything,” says Ringwood, “and then spent several days in the British Museum really studying everything and seeing how the clothes and armor were made and what they were made of. I looked a lot at the bas-relief sculptures, which are thousands of tiny figures ‘ I kept setting off the alarms in the museum by getting too close ‘ but if you make the effort to study them, there’re actually quite accurate depictions. I was able to base the court clothes on them, which are the most historically accurate costumes in the film.”
Much of that accuracy came about as a result of Ringwood’s production methods. “I think one of the most important things about making an ethnic historical film is that you use ethnic fabrics and ethnic peoples to make it,” says Ringwood. “If you try and make them with modern fabrics in modern factories they just look modern, and so we bought all the fabrics from all over the world and they were often fabrics that have been made the same way for 3,000 years. I had about a hundred and fifty people working for me and then we outsourced all over the world, to Iraq, Turkey, India, Sri Lanka, China.”
Ringwood had to find a creative solution to a critical issue. In designing the armor for the film, he needed to visually unify the Greek army, although it is made up of many smaller armies from different regions that would each have to have a distinct look. “They have to appear as one because when the film is cut together you really want the Trojans and the Greeks to appear to be two distinct armies. So basically I designed all the Trojan armor in blue, gold and metal, and outfitted the Greek armies in earth tones, leather and coarse fabrics, so even though all the factions in the Greek army are somewhat different, they read as a group.”
To outfit Troy’s legions of soldiers, Ringwood’s team produced armor prototypes using methods and materials authentic to the period, including woven linens, metal, leather and grass. The full size wearable costumes were then cast in plastic, using a recently developed, highly effective new method. High-pressure spray guns cover the object with miniscule droplets of plastic that pick up every detail of the original, down to an errant pinhole. A mold is created, and plastic facsimiles of the armor are made, then dressed with details such as metal plating and leather dyes. The end result is a lightweight perfect facsimile of the original that can be mass produced at a rate of several hundred in a week.
“Bob Ringwood is a genius,” Petersen raves. “An absolute genius. He is a true artist. I was in awe of Bob ‘ he got his materials from all over the world, and put it all together in an amazing way.” In total, Ringwood and company designed and manufactured about 8,000 costumes and 10,000 pairs of shoes in just four and a half months.