92nd Oscars Backstage Interview Transcript: COSTUME DESIGN

SPEECH BY: Jaqueline Durran


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Q. Congratulations. It's beautiful how you use fashion in the time period to really express the different characters. So when you are refined in such a specific time, how do you manage to find the freedom in making sure that everyone has their own identity and where was freedom for you in this project?
A. I did -- I did the historical research in the normal way, and I found different style, different images that represented each charac -- each of the girls to me, and then I shared those with the actresses and we worked on ways in which that could become personal to them in there and they could use the clothing in their acting. And I think that freed up the style in some way to give it a kind of life that the film required, really. The thing is that it's not a classic period film, and the way that Greta's directed it and directed the action and the way that the relationships are means that it needs another kind of approach to costume, and that's what I hoped to do.

Q. It really supported the acting.
A. Thank you.

Q. It's a wonderful film.
A. Thank you.

Q. I'd love to hear just a bit about your collaboration with Greta Gerwig and how to gauge the age difference, which is so subtle, between those seven years, you know, visually in the characters, it doesn't hit you over the head.
A. Yeah, it was a lot to do with the structure that she put into the script so that we always knew which was the past and the present but we didn't know the intercutting points. So I did two separate wardrobes, one which suited them as children and one which suited them as adults. And the Meg character I suppose was the one that had the least difference because being the eldest she had the shortest journey and Amy had the longest. But, yeah, I set up two different wardrobes.

Q. I'm curious if you were a fan of the original writing, and if you -- although the style was quite different from a traditional classic movie and classic period costumes, if you infused any of what you would have pulled from the original into the designs of your own thinking?
A. I'm not sure what you mean, but I didn't watch any of the previous iterations, and I hadn't seen the 1993 version, I think simply because I was the wrong age when it came out. It wasn't something that I went to see. So once I got the job, I decided that I wouldn't watch any of them, particularly the '93 one -- I think it was '93 -- because I felt that I would be influenced by it and influenced in the interpretation. And I wanted to just take Greta's script and the book as the source for, you know, my inspiration, and so I just didn't look at any of the others.

Q. Congratulations. There's a lot of attention, of course, on the girls' costumes, but can you talk a little bit about choosing the right look for the men?
A. Yes. I mean, the most significant male style was Timothee Chalamet, I think playing Laurie, and he -- I based his costume -- I was very liberal with the time period for his costumes, and I chose earlier -- an earlier period for his young self and a later period for his older self. And then I allowed him quite a bit of freedom in how he wore the clothes that I designed for him because he had such a great interest in his clothes, I gave him a freedom to decide which parts of it he was going to wear and in which way. He didn't create the pieces, but once I gave him the pieces, he styled them.

Q. What was your relationship like with Greta? You're both women, and you have these incredible female actors in the film. How did you guys work together?
A. It was a really great relationship. She came -- I was based in London for the prep period of the movie and she came to London and we spent at least two days at the beginning of our working together just going through research, looking at images that we both liked, you know, that represented different characters and that became the grounding for our working on the characters. And then she came back to London to the different fittings when she could, and then we carried on work in America. It was a very close relationship and she was very instinctive about how she wanted the characters to be. And it was all about -- it wasn't about historical accuracy in any way, but it was about the feeling that the costumes gave and the kind of freedom that she wanted to express in the movie. And I think -- I think that was the thing that dictated the most was how she brought a freshness and a kind of modernity to the action. It's not so much that the costumes are modern, it's that she's directing it in a modern way. So it was a really, really great relationship. I really loved working with her, and she -- I find her inspirational.


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