Although ‘Tiny Dancer’ and ‘Crocodile Rock’ have never really exited the limelight, last month’s hit movie Rocketman gave Elton John's substantial body of work a whole new audience. Taron Egerton (best known for playing the cheeky cockney spy Eggsy in Kingsman) whizzed up an enchanting performance as the legendary Sir Elton John in the part-biography, part-fantasy musical film. The music was as captivating as you’d expect, with stunning renditions of all the classics as well as new hits. The contrast between the superstar’s humble beginnings and his subsequent excessively luxurious lifestyle in L.A. made it a notably vulnerable piece, only added to by the underlying multifaceted topics such as homophobia, substance abuse and manipulation.
The visuals that accompanied such hard-hitting storylines within the film gave a spotlight to many of Elton’s magnificent costumes. The designer, Julian Day, who also worked on last year's Oscar-winning hit portrayal of the life of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, Bohemian Rhapsody, successfully illustrated Elton’s outrageously spectacular style, but he did so with a lot of nuance and distinction. Elton has always placed a lot of focus on his accessories, so naturally, Day’s homage to him did as well. Over fifty pairs of shoes and glasses were used throughout the movie, and we can’t even imagine the size of the bling budget.
One of Day’s personal favourite outfits from the movie compliments the song ’Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’. Day incorporated elements from the four main characters of the classic movie in The Wizard of Oz into the look, with Egerton wearing a straw hat for the Scarecrow, a silver shirt for the Tinman, a faux fur coat for the Lion; and for Dorothy, he prances around in the most magical ruby red shoes made from Swarovski crystals.
When asked about the extravagant costumes, Egerton said that he "found the process of inhabiting Elton John and his wardrobe incredibly liberating". He also spoke about Elton hiding behind grand outfits as much as becoming a performer in them. Elton himself said in the interview that he chooses his outfits 20 minutes before going on stage and until then, he doesn’t "become Elton". Perhaps the most befitting line in the movie: "People don't pay to see Reg Dwight, they pay to see Elton John."
“People don’t pay to see Reg Dwight, they pay to see Elton John.”
Although the superstar may be slightly more impulsive, and Julian Day’s approach is meticulously planned, the costume team definitely captured the emotion in his outfits. They showed us how core his costumes are to his identity as a performer whether that be in power-suits, ball gowns or hot pants.
Reginald Dwight was a boy from Pinner, who loved Watford Football Club, playing the piano at home, and dreaming of the world stage. Sir Elton John is a husband and father of two who has a stand named after him at Watford Football Club, still loves playing the piano at home, and is currently on his final World Tour. Thanks to Julian Day, we got to see this transformation happen on the big screen some fifty years later, through his unbelievable costume designs. If you haven’t seen Rocketman yet, do it.
By Jemima Brennen
Artwork by Luke Walwyn