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Water for Elephants Sets Stylish Tone

Water for Elephants, starring Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson, and Christoph Waltz, is a feast-for-the-eyes period film based upon the Sara Gruen novel of the same name. The Sabrina Inc team was lucky enough to cover the Red Carpet Premiere the week before its official open at the Ziegfeld Theater; and while the crowd was decidedly mad for Robert Pattinson, I couldn’t take my eyes off the lush interiors of the film.

The film is an orgy of the senses, in just about every way possible. The leading lovers in the movie, Reese and Rob, are delicious in every scene. (Rob Pattinson fans will once again ache to see more of a love scene than what's offered up in the movie), but I digress…

The interiors and styling, created under the set director Jack Fisk will have you yearning for Billie Holiday, a snifter of good whiskey, and frilled lamp shades.

The attention to detail Fisk and his team gave to every dusty corner of this gorgeous period film is nothing short of stunning. You'll want to watch the film several times, because a movie with this depth of texture and color needs to be digested over several viewings.

Some of the best glimpses into the 1930s circus set are the seemingly innocuous connecting scenes. In one such example Jacob Jankowski walks through the corridor of the train, in which languid circus women (in the book they are portrayed as prostitutes, in the PG-13 movie the viewer is led to believe to perform cleaner tricks for an audience), reach and grab at the young circus vet while laying in bunks layered with soft, warn in textures set against walls papered with vintage newsprint. Oriental rugs are tossed about, and it seems every lamp is wears a dress of frill.
In short, this movie is a beauty. Be sure to catch it while it's in theaters; seeing the magic of Fisk's set design on a mega screen will inspire you.

For more information on the artists behind the set design, please visit our friends at the Water for Elephants Fan site of how the graphics and interiors were created.

How to get the look:

The movie takes place during The Depression, and the interiors, assume an irresistible, well warn-in look.

Scattered oriental rugs cover every corner of August and Marlena’s luxurious car. But the audience assumes that the cash-strapped circus has been hanging on to the furnishings and finishes from years before, presumably from the roaring 20s when the money was flying.

If minimalist is your thing, then the 30’s look is not for you. But if you yearn to evoke the feeling of this era, then you’re in look, because this look is affordable and accessible.

Layer, layers, layers.

In each car, nook, corner and eve, is a feast for the visual senses. One can practically smell the old-book smell exuding from each scene.

Mix and match. Score vintage circus tschokies at your favorite Flea Market. Trays are perfect to corral vintage perfume bottles, combs, and other collectibles from the era.

For a quick bedroom make-over try this:
Two mis-matched oriental rugs-the more worn the better, and pair with this chenille bed spread from Anthropologie, and cover with pillows of various sizes and patterns (we love the floral pattern below, also from Anthropolgie).

Throw in several of these lamps, perhaps faux velvet drapes; throw on Billie Holiday on your record player (MUST be vinyl-the flat sound emitted from M3G players will not suffice).

Where to shop: This movie had me wanting to RUN to Anthropology. A great way to pull the look off would be to mix in some fresh pieces from Anthropology, such as the pillows featured above, along with your flea market finds.

Put that old newsprint to use!

Renowned set designer Jack Fisk created texture and interest to the walls of the train interiors by plastering the bunks with newsprint. The Depression led to some pretty thrifty design ideas, and covering your walls with newsprint was cheap and easy, and gave instant visual appeal.

Try on a smaller space like a walk-in closet or pantry. Vintage newsprint only adds to getting that Water for Elephants look.

(Photo sourced from Apartment Therapy, All Rights Reserved)

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This blog was written by Sabrina Velandry and also appears at:


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