Paco Delgado Q&A: ‘The Danish Girl’ costume designer
During our recent webcam chat, “The Danish Girl” costume designer Paco Delgado gave much credit for his Oscar nomination to director Tom Hooper, who had very specific ideas about how to tell this true story of 1930s transgender pioneer Lili Elbe (Eddie Redmayne) and his supportive wife Gerda (Alicia Vikander). “Everyone says your costumes are helping to tell the story, that they are like a main character somehow in themselves because through the costumes gender is explained. But he said from the very beginning, ‘I want you to design costumes that are not going to be the center of the production.’”
This was in stark contrast to their work on the musical “Les Miserables” (2012), for which Delgado reaped his first Oscar bid. “With ‘Les Mis,’” he recalls, “costumes had a much more prominent [role] from the very beginning because it was a musical and it had much more of a fantasy approach, whereas here, because we were doing a biography basically, he didn’t want me to do very flamboyant and over-the-top.”
The gravity of the subject matter in this new film undoubtedly led to this aesthetic decision. “There’s a lot of confusion with people about what it means to be transgender,” explains Delgado, “or a transvestite. You have to be really careful because you’re talking about something really serious.”
The costume designer gives credit to Redmayne, whom he had previously worked with on “Les Miserables.” “We were lucky because we already knew each other,” he says, “and we were already very confident in each other. We started working a long time before we did preparation for the movie, just trying to find out what sort of shapes, colors, or fabrics were the key ones to show Eddie in the best light as a real woman. We were really sort of nicely surprised that we could make out of him a really interesting female character.”
Perhaps best known for his work in Mexico, Delgado has collaborated with such filmmakers as Pedro Almodovar (“Bad Education” , “The Skin I Live In” ) and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (“Biutiful” ).