Oscars Costume Design Panel for ‘Harriet,’ ‘Missing Link,’ ‘Rocketman’
Costume design could start with sketches or mood boards or research or shopping, among other things, but for our three panelists at our Meet the Experts: Costume Design panel — Julian Day (“Rocketman”), Paul Tazewell (“Harriet”) and Deborah Cook (“Missing Link”) — none have a precise process they carry out every time on each project.
“I love shopping,” Day shared. “I think it’s a combination of all of those things. Take ‘Rocketman,’ for instance, I do illustrations, do research. I got to go to the archives to see Elton [John]’s real clothes and internet research, fabric shopping. I got to go to Paris and vintage stores to go buy fabrics [and] I found this original 1930s fireworks fabric.”
Added Tazewell: “It comes down the most effective way to communicate whatever the idea is. When you’re developing the design, how can you pull out of the director what their point of view is? Can you get in their head? Much of my focus is figuring out the most compelling way to present where I am with it so then I can talk with the director about it.”
For Cook, who loves shopping as well, her experience in stop-motion animation is slightly different as she and her team at LAIKA now create their own materials. That means any shopping she does is for inspiration because they wouldn’t use the fabrics as they are. And unlike live-action films, she doesn’t have to deal with human beings, but rather puppets, which are being created in tandem with the clothes.
“We’re building the character image before we have a voice or an actor attached to that character, so that all jigsaws together along the way at different paces,” Cook noted. “I quite often look for characters or personalities that fit what the director is thinking of. … We talk about them a lot when we’re building characters … what they would say in certain environments. We’re building their personalities.”
“You do the mood boards or the illustrations, and from my point of view, you get an actor that comes in and all of those things can go out the window. So I envy you,” Day quipped.
Video by Andrew Merrill.