Massimo Cantini Parrini interview: ‘Pinocchio’ costume designer
“I have been breathing the same air as Pinocchio himself,” reveals Massimo Cantini Parrini, costume designer of the recent faithful adaptation of the 1883 novel by Carlo Collodi. “I was born in the neighborhood of Costello, which is the neighborhood where Collodi wrote his classic,” translates Milan-based interpreter Marina Spagnuolo from Cantini Parrini’s Italian in his exclusive interview with Gold Derby (watch the video above). Calling it “a dream come true,” he laughs, “The house of my grandparents was just 100 meters away from the house in which Collodi lives.”
The costume design for the eponymous character was motivated by narrative, practical and symbolic considerations. Cantini Parrini notes about the source material, “The dress was made of paper and his hat was made of breadcrumbs.” He explains about reimagining for this live-action film, “Paper would not have helped us at all because it would have been torn and ruined very, very easily and the hat could not be made of breadcrumbs because Gepetto is so poor that he would have eaten such a hat had it been available.” He adds about its color, “Red is the color that expresses human feelings — human emotions, like anger, rage, passion, love, lies also and he is the only character wearing red in the movie because I wanted Pinocchio to be always visible in the movie, like a small ladybird.”
Cantini Parrini is at six consecutive nominations and counting at the David di Donatello Awards (Italy’s Oscar equivalent). He received transnational recognition with 2018’s “Dogman,” being nominated for his first European Film Award and winning, ironically although that work represents his only David loss to date.
“Pinocchio” has brought Cantini Parrini international recognition after two decades costuming. He is nominated for the first time at both the Costume Designers Guild Awards and Oscars. Cantini Parrini cites this as “a big surprise,” since “Pinocchio” is such an Italian film as opposed to an international co-production that might be more primed for a breakthrough. Roberto Benigni stars in the role of Gepetto; Benigni is the only Best Actor winner at the Oscars to date for a foreign-language performance.
The Oscars are pushing for in-person attendance in contrast to recent awards shows that have embraced teleconferencing. Rome-based Cantini Parrini responds, “We are trying our best so as to be in L.A. for Oscar night, but if that’s not going to be possible, we will try at least to be in London because we would really like to experience this whole Oscar event live to get the vibes out of it in a live situation. It would not be the same being in a studio or at home because you really have to feel these things on your skin — not only if you win; I would also like to feel the vibe even if I lose.”