Working on the movie “Brooklyn,” costume designer Odile Dicks-Mireaux was tasked not only with recreating the fashions of the 1950s, but with charting the emotional development of its lead character, Ellis (Saoirse Ronan), a young woman torn between her home in Ireland and her new life in New York City. As the veteran costumer explains in our recent conversation (listen below), this wasn’t nearly as difficult as you’d imagine. “I kind of did it very instinctively,” she says, downplaying the extensive amount of work she almost certainly did.
Although she was born a few years after the films' protagonist, Dicks-Mireaux used many of her own experiences as inspiration for her designs. “I was almost remembering my own childhood that you didn’t really have many clothes after the war.”
She gave Ellis a minimal wardrobe for her life in Ireland, nothing more than a few shirts and skits, and a dress for special occasions. “I kept it very simple, and then once I’d kind of worked that out I applied this logic that once she got to America, she would start earning a little bit of money and have to buy a few more things to add to her wardrobe.”
The costumer designer then gradually phased out Ellis’ old wardrobe for the new, much the same way the character leaves her past in Ireland behind. According to Dicks-Mireaux, “As she got more kind of settled in New York, her choices would be more confident and bolder.”
Dicks-Mireaux won an Emmy for her work on “The Lost Prince” (2003), and received a BAFTA nomination for “An Education” (2009). She won a BAFTA TV award for “Great Expectations” (1999) and reaped bids for “The Woman in White” (1997), “Gormenghast” (2000), and “The Hollow Crown” (2012) .
She just picked up a Critics' Choice nomination for "Brooklyn" and our experts are predicting she will reap an Oscar bid too.
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"Brooklyn" photo credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures