We conclude our Oscar Week Costume Designer Q&A with this year's double nominee, Sandy Powell, who is recognized for her work on both Cinderella and Carol. Powell's celebrated career includes Academy Award wins for Shakespeare in Love (1999), The Aviator (2005), and The Young Victoria (2010).The diaphanous blue ballgown from Cinderella is one of the highlight's of FIDM Museum's Art of Motion Picture Costume Design exhibition; Powell's design is a feat of engineering, layering cage crinolines with petticoats and superfine fabrics in blues and lavenders to achieve a watercolor effect. The designer partnered with Swarovski to add sparkle to the gown, and the crystal company also helped Powell create a one-of-a-kind glass slipper for the film. Read below for Powell's take on period costume design, collaborating with Cate Blanchett, and the actresses that inspired Cinderella's stepmother.
Q: Harvey Weinstein once said your great gift is your ability to make costumes look contemporary. You manage to be both true to the period and modern. How did you incorporate this methodology while you were designing for Carol?
A: I’m not sure I did in this particular case! I know he’s referring to other films that I’ve done with him, such as Shakespeare in Love which is a period film, but because of the nature of it, it’s a comedy, and appealing to the masses. There were modern elements, like the Shakespeare doublet was made to be the equivalent of a leather jacket, even though it was in Elizabethan cut, I tried to make the feel of it like a leather jacket. For Carol, I think it appeals to a modern audience because they are clothes that actually could be worn now. Somebody could wear this and not look out of place. Maybe the hat would look a little odd, but the actual dress could easily be worn and not look like a costume.
Q: And that was because of the character of Carol being so sophisticated?