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The Footwear Challenges 'Les Misérables' Costume Designers Faced

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Laurie Sparham/Universal Pictures

Vegan footwear probably didn’t exist in 19th-century France. But on a 21st-century movie set, the eco-friendly shoes were a necessity.

“[Anne Hathaway] is vegan, so we couldn’t use any animal materials on the shoes for her character, Fantine,” Les Misérables costume designer Paco Delgado tells Footwear News. “We had to find very specific shoemakers to create lace-up boots and ankle boots. We also did flats that were much more sophisticated.”

Delgado used only custom footwear on set, sourcing shoes from factories in Rome, Madrid and London. And while Hathaway’s shoes took a lot of work, Hugh Jackman‘s footwear was quite fancy, too.

“He wanted to wear wooden clogs,” Delgado says. “It was very difficult to walk in them, but he figured out how to do it.”

There were many other considerations made for the movie: women couldn’t wear heels (“It was a very special period for shoes,” Delgado says), men required complex leather combat boots and in some cases, espadrilles, and the footwear had to be quite quiet, too.

“We were shooting the actors singing in real time,” Delgado explains. “So [we were] very careful with the materials we used to be as noiseless as possible. We used soft materials and insoles to stop the noise.” Tell us: Are you planning to see Les Misérables next week? 

–Kate Hogan