What was it about 1950s couture that you thought would blend well with the costume of Imperial Russia?
Joe [Wright, the director] wanted to bring things back to a kind of essence, he wanted the costumes brought down to a silhouette. When you think about that silhouette, the high point of the pure silhouette was 1950s couture. The 50s combined stark architectural elements with a point of elegance and that feeds into Anna–she’s kind of the essence of those two things.
What is the advantage to working with the same director more than once?
I think it very much frees you from the nerves you might have the first time you work with someone. When you first start working with a director, you feel that if you take a chance or push something a bit or play around with something, that they may think you don’t understand what you want. The first time you work with someone, you spend so much time concentrating on getting on their wavelength and making what they want. Once you work with a director you get there much more quickly and there’s more trust, so you can take bigger risks.
You’re part of the same team that made the green dress from Atonement–one of the most beloved film costumes. When we spoke with Keira, we asked which of her costumes was her favorite, and she said she loved the looks from Pride and Prejudice, so we have to know, which look is your favorite?
[laughs] I didn’t even know that she liked the Pride and Prejudice costumes. Funnily enough, I like a costume in Atonement that’s entirely overlooked, but it was so difficult to do. It’s a costume that she wears in the morning where she’s got a mauve brown patterned blouse and skirt, and the problem is in that movie Joe Wright wanted me to combine pattern with pattern and no one did that in the 30s. So when I came to try and do it, it was really difficult, because not only was there no example, there were no fabrics that matched. I couldn’t find any fabrics that worked together, so in the end I had to get the skirt pattern printed in the palette of the blouse inspired by the style of Sonia Delaunay. It was so difficult to do!
Tell us a little bit about the Banana Republic collaboration–how was it different for you from costume design?
Well, I didn’t design the pieces. I came on quite late, and how it worked was that Simon had already designed the holiday collection and my role was to take the holiday collection and combine them to make a style inspired by Anna Karenina. So from his collection I chose pieces–mine was more a curating role than a designing role.
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