Backstage Interview | 86th Academy Awards

Costume Design

CATEGORY: Costume Design
INTERVIEW WITH: Catherine Martin


Q. Given GATSBY'S other nomination and yours tonight, can you talk about the divisibility or indivisibility between costume design and production design when you're collaborating with Baz Luhrmann on a film like GREAT GATSBY?
A.    I think that the language of clothes and the language of environment work hand‑in‑hand as story‑telling tools in what is a visual medium, filmmaking, and it's certainly something that Baz considers down to the very last detail.  One has to remember that actors are saying about 30 percent of a film are usually close‑ups; in my husband's movies, sometimes more.  So what you're looking at are clothes and they become an indicator of who the person is, what they're doing, how they're feeling and where they are, and I think you can't ‑‑ you know, I think the most successful, obviously, visual interpretations of ones that are collaborative, so I think it's quite good to be the same person.  Even though it can be schizophrenic at times, you're arguing with yourself.

Q.    It seems that every time you have a film, your fashion ends up in the fashion world.  Has that changed anything about what you're doing and what you did with this film, especially this film, is everywhere, your fashion?
A.    No.  I'm a great fan of fashion.  I have always loved it, and I love the fact that in this digital age there's so much visual conversation between all kinds of media, between fashion and film.  And I think that you can't live in a cultural bubble so you need to be constantly aware of what's actually happening in the world.  And I think it's not so much that the influence is direct, I think it's that Baz has an incredible ability to pick stories that have real resonance for a particular time and place, so people have been very comfortable to take on those attributes that they see in the movie.  But we certainly don't live in a bubble either; we know what's happening in the fashion world too.

Q.    Congratulations to you on your win this evening.  During your acceptance speech, you spoke briefly about the seamstress you've been working with for, I believe you said 25 years.  Could you elaborate a little bit on the collaboration you have with these people and the work that they did with you on THE GREAT GATSBY?
A.    There are a number of women I've been working with for about, yeah, nearly 25 years, and they  one is a tailor, Gloria Bava, one is a principal cutter called Cheryl Pike, and I also have a milliner that I've worked with since I got out of school, her name's Rosie Boylan.  And I always think it's funny because I often walk into the room and just think, oh, God, isn't my crew getting old, and then I realize I'm old too, but, you know.  And, like, haven't we been together for a long time?  And when we heard about the nomination, it was fabulous because there were people who'd been working with me since, like, before MOULIN ROUGE and they'd been, basically, this was their third nomination.  In fact, we forgot that it was the third nomination, we were getting very confused over the number of nominations.  But anyway, they've been with me on all the movies, AUSTRALIA, MOULIN ROUGE, they've worked with me on LA BOHEMÉ on Broadway.  So I have a team that's very consistent.

Q.    Where will you keep your Oscar in your home?
A.    We have a room in our house called the red room because it's red, and that's where we put all of the memorabilia.  So there was a very funny Australian film called THE CASTLE, and I always jokingly say, just like in THE CASTLE, that my prizes goes straight to the pool room, but in this instance they go to the red room.

Q.    I wondered, firstly, how it feels, you're being the Australian who, along with Orry‑Kelly has won the most Academy Awards ever and you're still up for a possible additional Oscar this night.  And also the appearance, the whole visual effect of GATSBY was so dazzling.  Do you have any thoughts when you would try to create that kind of environment about comparing that in your experience with Hollywood's biggest showbiz and party night here at the Academy Awards?
A.    That's very  not specifically, but I'm sure the experiences I've had at this incredible, you know, celebration of film absolutely colors your experience.  And I've been lucky enough to be here, this is my fourth time.  Although, I'm not a very reliable source of information as my dad and my set decorator, who's co‑nominated with me, found out today, when they were asking me how to do things, I had absolutely no idea.  I had a fast‑beating heart and sweaty palms.  So yes, I'm sure it informs ‑‑ it informs the world that we create all experiences that you have in your life, but not really specifically.


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