In a film packed with 2.5 hours of traditional dance, group-sex, and ritual sacrifice, the May Queen ensemble remains Midsommar’s most impressive visual feat.
It took 2 months, 4 prototypes, and roughly 10,000 silk flowers for Ari Aster and Hungarian costume designer Andrea Flesch to arrive at the final look for the show-stopping floral gown Dani wears during its fiery climax. When we asked Flesch how ambitious fans could ‘get the look’ this Halloween, her first response was, simply: “Don’t start this.”
Read on for further insights from Flesch, including a few practical backups for those determined to show their love for all things Hårga. (And for everyone else: there’s still time to Prime yourself a bear suit.)
Can you tell us about the process of designing the May Queen dress?
This dress was the biggest thing in the movie. I think we worked on it for two months because we had never made something like this before, and also Ari had a big vision for it. What was most important for Ari was that the flower dress look like a meadow. Not like a fashion statement. We knew it had to be huge and wearable. First, we had to find out how we're going to make the base of it. I think we bought around 10,000 silk flowers in the end. Even if it's silk, it's very, very heavy.
How heavy is the finished dress?
It was around 15 kilo. The actress [Florence Pugh] was a small little girl and she had to wear it and walk in it, so we had to first construct the base. We got the idea to make a hoop skirt for the base. My husband made it because he's an architect. It was more an engineering thing than a designer thing, the base. He made three or four versions, we kept changing it.
Then he had to make the cloak to go on the base of the dress, over the hoop skirt. We tried different things and at first, but it was very bulky and round. Ari preferred something not so round. We finally found the right shape and then, as you can see, we glued leaves on the whole thing so you never see the fabric itself. Then we started to glue on the flowers.
Ari is very specific about color in the movie. Did you have to pick each flower carefully?
Yes. It had to be really wild, and so we used a lot of small ones to get the feeling of a real wild meadow. The color was very important. We tried to use the Swedish colors first, the blue and yellow. The most important thing was to find silk flowers which look almost real. We preferred to use forget-me-nots, sweet peas, meadow buttercups, cornflowers, and persian jewels. But they sell it like a full flower, so we had to take off the heads off. It was also a lot of work.
And how did you make the crown?
I did a lot of research on flower crowns from all over, but I think in the end it was really from traditional old Swedish crowns… It was a hat-maker who made the base of it, and then it was the same woman who put the flowers on the dress. The first crown was so heavy that [Florence] couldn't wear it, so we had to make a new one. It was really heavy because the base was metal.
What’s your advice for someone who wanted to replicate this dress for Halloween? Where would they start?
Don't start this. Or don't start the way I did. Maybe they should just take a long cloak and wear that over a big hoop-skirt or underskirt. It is important how the dress moves, because it's not just something which falls down. It has a little bit of flow like it is moving around her. And then they need a lot of flowers, too. I don't know. For us, I think around 50 huge boxes of flowers arrived, so really it was a lot.
More than someone should probably spend on Halloween. OK. How about the crown, could someone replicate that at home?
Yes, I think because it can be also smaller. Maybe the easiest way would be to make it from hard paper in some crown shape and glue flowers on it.
Maybe we should talk about backup costumes.
I think they could go to second-hand shops to find traditional '70s dresses with flower embroidery. Or even if somebody puts on a long white dress and makes the flower crown. Every Hargan in the movie had their own rune embroidered on their dress. People could paint a rune on their dress—it doesn’t have to be embroidery. But it is very important that the dress is white. And for colors, mostly yellow, red, and blue.