Awards Daily talks to Spencer hair/makeup designer Wakana Yoshihara about which real-life figures inspired certain looks and how Diana’s hair mirrors her evolution in the film.
For Spencer hair/makeup designer Wakana Yoshihara, styling “Princess Diana” was written in the stars. Not only did she work as key hair stylist on 2013’s Diana starring Naomi Watts, but when she was training in cosmetology in the nineties, she was forced to practice Diana’s ’80s coif over and over again.
“For eight months, I practiced every day,” she says. “I didn’t understand why I had to practice that hairstyle. Everyone wanted to look like Jennifer Aniston.”
Now, all of that work has paid off, as Spencer is receiving glowing reviews for actress Kristen Stewart and of course its costume design and hair/makeup, all of which must work together in order for the performance to work, even if Yoshihara remains humbled by the film’s lead actress.
“Kristen has magic. She just flips and turns into Diana. Two seconds later, she’s a different person. Most of the credit should go to Kristen.”
While Stewart and Spencer’s faces are different, director Pablo Larrain didn’t want to go the prosthetic route, much to the relief of Yoshihara who knew what it was like to deal with prosthetics. Naomi Watts wore them in Diana, which proved to be challenging to the hair/makeup team when Watts was number one on the call sheet.
“I trusted his decision,” she says.
But the right look for Diana didn’t come until right before shooting, as they were still testing makeup two days before filming. Yoshihara had been speaking to Kristen Stewart’s makeup artist, Stacey Panepinto, for more than two months before they were able to meet in person, due to COVID restrictions.
“When we did the hair and makeup fittings, I felt like, okay, we can still get better. I colored the wig more, and the first day of shooting, I was finally happy with how it all came together.”
Who Inspired Looks for the Staff and Royal Family?
In the film, Diana’s only confidante is Royal Family maid, Maggie, played by Sally Hawkins, who has a very distinct look of a short bob and minimal makeup. Yoshihara based her on well-known American writer, Susan Sontag, longtime partner to photographer Annie Leibovitz.
“When I read the script, I wanted to connect Maggie to someone who is timeless. She doesn’t follow fashion. When I spoke to Sally, she said, ‘Thank you, I love this.'”
Meanwhile, styling the Royal Family was more straightforward. For Major Alistar Gregory (Timothy Spall), she looked into majors and lieutenants who served the Royal Family. For the chef, she looked at chefs who served the queen, to give a more period look.
“I just researched and selected a number of pictures. I tried to string it together. I researched someone who would have a similar experience to the roles within the Royal Family. Although Royal Family images don’t come easily. It was quite difficult. I had to look at lots of weddings. And in terms of similarities, everyone looked functional and neat.”
How Diana’s Look Evolves in the Film
Even though the film only takes place over the course of a holiday weekend, Diana certainly goes through an evolution, and that, too, is depicted through her hair. When we meet Diana, she looks anxious, stiff, and riddled with dread, but as the film goes on, that subtly changes. Along with Stewart’s performance, this progression is achieved through Yoshihara’s use of two wigs on Stewart: one that was more structured and the other more relaxed.
“Like she’s just woken up and left the room.”
The second wig proves to be important in the climax of Spencer, as Diana leaves the Royal Family behind and attempts to cut the reins, so to speak.
“Diana becomes more softer. She’s leaving herself more natural in a way. You feel more accessible. She took off her armor.”
Spencer is now playing.