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Inglourious Basterds: Costume Lowdown by Anna Sheppard

Oscar nominated costume designer Anna B. Sheppard grants us exclusive insight into the unique period look of Inglourious Basterds (2009).

It transpires that most of the film’s extraordinary costumes, including Diane Kruger’s brown suit and Julie Dreyfus’ ‘cat hat’, were constructed entirely from original designs by Anna Sheppard. Moreover all period jewellery was sourced from her own private collection, accumulated since working on Steven Spielberg’s holocaust drama Schindler’s List in 1993.

Clothes on Film: Is it fair to say that the costumes in Inglourious Basterds are intended as ‘stylised’ as opposed to entirely historically accurate?

Anna Sheppard: I wouldn’t call them stylised as such, simply they are maybe more flamboyant. Many previous films on WW2 have brought down the costumes rather than make them elegant or expensive looking but I had the luck of providing costumes for a German film star, Italian film star and a big film premiere in Paris with everyone dressed to the nines which meant I could be a little more creative. After all, every period has mavericks and those with personal style, so I think my costumes in this film are less cliched than perhaps others I have done in the same period.

COF: Where is Diane Kruger’s brown suit from? Is it custom made or sourced vintage?

AS: Diane Kruger’s brown suit is made from scratch, as most of the other costumes are. It was made by a tailor in Berlin according to my design.

COF: Mélanie Laurent wears what looks to be an Elsa Schiaparelli inspired siren suit inside Le Gamaar cinema. Was this an intentional nod?

AS: Yes and no. I generally put Melanie’s costumes as clothes that don’t draw attention to the person wearing them, hence the trousers rather than flowery dresses, the siren suit more than a tailored suit and more quirky pieces that looked better on her very tiny frame. Again, not being cliche to the usual expectations.

COF: Christoph Waltz’s long coat is intimidating in the first scene at the farmhouse, obviously by association, but also because of the constant thumbscrew-like creaking from the leather. Does Quentin Tarantino take an active interest in how costume influences character?

AS: Naturally Quentin took a very active interest in all of the costumes as it was his first period film. I had to do a lot of visual presentations and sketches to give him the opportunity to choose his favourite pieces from a selection.

COF: Were Diane Kruger’s sparkily evening shoes also custom made in Berlin like her brown pumps?

AS: No, her sparkly shoes were made with Swarovski crystals to special order in Boldini in Venice.

COF: Is Mélanie Laurent wearing men’s period trousers when working outside the cinema?

AS: Melanie’s trousers were a period version of modern dungarees with a detachable bib, which she wore both ways. Again, these were to go against the grain of floral dresses and small patterns that were associated with the period. They were made in Berlin, according to my design.

COF: What was the thinking behind Brad Pitt’s white dinner jacket?

AS: As I was using a lot of black tuxedos, uniforms and SS black dress uniforms in the final scene, I wanted to use a more flamboyant and visible design to highlight the fact that he plays an Italian film maker.

COF: Brad Pitt also wears a lot of casual knitwear, flat caps and scarves, that are not normally seen on soldiers in World War 2 movies. Was this a conscious choice to do something different with his character?

AS: Brad Pitt’s character in this film is an American soldier in disguise as a French partisan so I didn’t follow usual stereotypes. Instead, I chose to create another character based on this role. Also, if you pay attention, the other Basterds are in very similar styles, the only difference is the boots that created an individual silhouette for his character.

COF: Can you tell us about Julie Dreyfus’ striking leopard hat ensemble – again spotting Elsa Schiaparelli’s influence here – also the finale outfits of the leading ladies: Mélanie Laurent (red dress), Diane Kruger (black sweetheart gown) and Julie Dreyfus (bias dress with turban).

AS: All of the costumes for these actresses were handmade, according to my designs. Of course, Julie’s cat hat is a very visible homage to Elsa Schiaparelli’s famous hat, but I think in this case it was a slightly ironic take on the prototype. It’s one of the costumes that I’m very proud of and perhaps a personal favourite.

Melanie’s red dress was a second thought. Originally, I designed a short black dress for her which Quentin liked very much but I talked him into a change of heart. I thought that in the black dress, her character would disappear as she is so tiny. As it was the last day of her character’s life, I didn’t want her to disappear in the crowds of people wearing beautiful evening gowns as her other costumes had a much more tomboy-ish feel to them. I wanted her to look beautiful and very feminine, hence the red dress with a very seductive shape.

Diane’s dress was also made in Berlin too out of beaded silk fabric with additional hand applied Swarovski crystals and a train made of tulle and silk feathers sewn on to it. All of the jewellery was from the original period, from my own private collection which I have been building since Schindler’s List.

COF: Brad Pitt’s Belstaff wax jacket with shawl collar is very interesting visually. Was this your choice for him or Tarantino’s?

AS: I’ve previously worked in conjunction with Belstaff on several other projects and it was my choice to include the shawl collar jacket in Brad’s costumes. Of course, it was aged and distressed beyond recognition but I think he looked very good in it and it tied in nicely with his other pieces.

With thanks to Anna B. Sheppard.

© 2009 – 2014, Lord Christopher Laverty.


    • Chris Laverty

      Sorry for my delay in replying, John. Hopefully this information can be of some use to you now.

      According to costume designer for Inglourious Basterds, Anna B. Sheppard, the coat Brad Pitt wears is an E.T.O (European Theater of Operations). These were made in the UK during the war from standard khaki fabric used for soldiers’ uniforms. In Anna’s own words, it was ‘something special’.

  • Sam Mathew Cox

    any information on Brad Pitts boots?

    anyone some photos would be great

  • Greg Faure

    Been scanning the internet for some info on Ltn Aldos’ boots in the movie. Was wondering if anyone can tell me if they were standard issue in either French, American or German army. And more to the point what kind of boots are they ??

    • Chris Laverty

      I will contact Anna Sheppard about these boots, but being as she is currently busy working on another film I’ll open up the floor for any further questions now.

      Leave anything you want to ask below and I’ll pass them onto her next week. Hopefully she’ll have time to respond soon.

  • S M C

    boots are not military,i was thinking some kind of French cowboy

    the costume appears to be based loosely on Gregory Pecks partisan costume in Guns of Navarone

  • Oliver

    Talking of Lt Aldo Raines jackets/coats, what coat is he wearing most of the time? Is it a regulary army-issued black overcoat or something special designed for this movie?

  • s m c

    the Belstaff jacket isnt what apears on screen,unless its worn under the peacoat

  • s m c

    the one jacket that apears on screen has nothing to do with the Belstaff coat

    the screen worn coat is a peacoat with vertical hand warmer pockets,the screenworn coat has repaired cuffs

    the Belstaff jacket has a mouton collar and leather shoulder patches,Pitt wore a jacket for a photo shoot for Vanity fair magazine but i assure you this jacket didnt make it on screen

  • s m c

    The Belstaff jacket is based on a jacket worn by Pitt for a Vanity Fair photo shoot
    This jacket isnt what apears on screen
    The screen jacket is a pretty standard peacoat with vertical hand warmer pockets



    • Chris Laverty

      One of Brad Pitt’s jackets for Aldo Raine is indeed a reefer or pea-coat. However he does also wear the Belstaff. Look closely at the scene where he and the Basterds break Hugo Stiglitz (Til Schweiger) out of prison. It’s teamed with a belt, but is definitely the coat the S.Icon is based upon. ‘Based’ being the operative word.

  • john sullivan

    I loved The Bastards and was wondering if you could direct me to a vendor to purchase a replica

    John S

  • john sullivan

    Please tell me wher Ms Sheppard purchased her replica uniforms so I can buy one.

    • Chris Laverty

      I assume the uniforms were sourced from several international outlets, John, then adapted by Anna Sheppard for narrative and creative interpretation.

  • Moshe

    Does anyone knows how can I find a German soldier costume from the movie (like in the movie), in L.A. CA?

  • Janelle

    I loved the clothing worn by Melanie Laurent in Inglourious Basterds. Do you have any info on the trousers and sweaters and if I could find them for purchase?

  • sarah h

    It’s quite difficult at this time of year to find knitwear and wool trousers. However, Hobbs ( do a magnificent range of trousers; their NW3 Fitzjohn Wide Cut Trousers are in a particularly vintage-inspired in a wool high-waisted style with subtle check. The NW3 Fitzjohn Sweater would complete the look.

    You can’t go wrong with Hobbs for retro style.

  • EDDY

    hello, can you post a copy of the sketch drawing of shoshana’s red gown?

  • Paris

    I love Inglourious Basterds and have been searching everywhere for the long red dress worn by shoshana at the Nazi premier with the black veil. Is there anyway i can get a full photo of the back and front to have it made or can i buy it?
    Any suggestions of how i could get my hands on it or a replica of it would be sooooo appreciated!

    Thank-you very much

    • Chris Laverty

      I don’t have any photos of the rear portion of the dress myself. Screencapping it from the DVD might be a good idea. I found several similar dresses to this last year and added links to the site, but never any that looked exactly the same. Maybe someone reading this can help you out..?

  • Paris

    Sorry Chris i couldn’t find the website links. and is there anyway i can contact Anna Sheppard?

    • Chris Laverty

      I think those links are probably dead by now as I put them on last year. I couldn’t possibly give out Anna Sheppard’s contact details or no-one in the business would ever talk to me again. You might try contacting her through imdb though…

  • kirstin hatch

    i was wondering, brad pitt where’s a cap in the scene where they show the “bear jew” for the first time. he takes it off halfway through the scene. but I was wondering if there’s a place to purchase a hat like that’s very similar (if not a replica) of that hat?


  • nandoo

    Nice… thanks Sarah for the tip I loved the clothing worn by Melanie Laurent in Inglorious Basters.

  • theo

    This is wrong. The Belstaff S. Icon was used in the movie along with the pea coat and whatever other costume Brad had, and does appear on-screen at least twice – once in the Stiglitz break-out scene as mentioned previously, and again in the discussion in the hide-out across the street from the basement tavern, shortly before that intense basement tavern scene commences.

  • theo

    LOL. I think you either have to know it’s there to notice Brad wearing it in that scene – or have the heightened sensitivity to these things that come from owning something that you’re looking at – it’s in the preamble sequence where Aldo is wondering whether carrying out a mission in a BASEMENT can really be such a bright idea…..
    By the way, someone mentioned the S. Icon being based on the movie jacket? I believe it’s actually the other way round – the S. Icon was available for quite some time [and I think a different colorway was featured in Benjamin Button] it looks to be an actual S. Icon, not an adaptation; it’s only that, as Sheppard says, it’s “aged and distressed beyond recognition”. Not quite beyond recognition – by comparative observation, I can see that the cut, proportions and drape are exactly the same as the example I have; the costume jacket is just not “new”.

    • Chris Laverty

      Thanks, Theo. That’s really interesting. It’s great to hear from someone who can give relate first hand experience to a costume on screen.

  • Chris

    Im trying to find out as much as possible about the items that Brad Pitt wears in the scene at the start of the movie. Cant seem to find a jacket that is close enough to pass. Also, does anyone know which shirt hes wearing too?

    Ive managed to find out about the red patch on his left shoulder. ie 1st special forces devils brigade badge. Does anyone know which badges he has on his shirt collar and hat?

  • s m c

    he is wearing the crossed arrows insignia of the 1st Special Service Force and his rank pin on the other side

    the pants are reinforced parartrooper trousers,the gloves ww2 us army cavalry gloves and the holster is the 1912 cavalry variation of the colt 45 holster

  • Leen

    Does anyone happen to know any details about Lt Aldo Raine’s knee-high boots that he wears?

    Or perhaps a brand or company that makes them?

  • s m c

    3600 Boots is the model

    Bergschuhfabrikation Steinkogler is the maker,i attempted ordering a pair but they dont take credit cards or paypal,they are in Austria and it was getting complicated (m in Australia)

  • David O'C

    does anyone have any photos and/or sketches of the dresses, furs and hair/headpieces worn by both the main female characters and the extras during the film premiere scenes and Julie Dreyfus’ leopard hat and dress.
    if you do could you email them 2 me at:
    or provide a link, please

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