How Costume Designer Sandy Powell Brings Dreams To Life On Screen
While recovering from surgery, one of the movies that brightened my day was the new adaptation of Cinderella. I’m not typically a fan of Disney movies, but while I was tidying up my apartment one evening I took the leap. I was instantly charmed by the visuals, including the costumes, and the entire cast. The costumes were so vivid that it felt as if I could touch them through my tv.
Costume designer Sandy Powell is the creative mastermind behind Cinderella, The Wolf of Wall Street, Gangs of New York, Shakespeare In Love, and so many more. Last week, MAC Cosmetics held a cocktail party in her honor, and naturally, I jumped at the chance. While I secretly hoped that one of the exquisite dresses from Cinderella would be on display, the chance to be in her atmosphere was enough motivation to attend.
We chatted for a few brief moments during the party about how the costume designing process for movies works (spoiler alert: I didn’t know much). Since I grew up riding horses on a farm, one of the scenes that stuck out for me most in Cinderella was when she was riding a galloping horse through the field. All I could think about was how filthy I used to get as a child, ruining the entire seat of my clothes with dirt & sweat from the horse so naturally, I asked Sandy about this conundrum. She shared that there are often eight or nine of the same garment for each scene, so even if Lily James (and her stunt double) had the same experience I did, there was no need to stress over the process.
Many of the films Sandy has worked on create an immersive dreamscape, so I wondered if she found it easy to source clothing from the retail market. If the costume needs to have any special features or mechanics, it will likely be created especially for the film. Finding inspiration from vintage pieces is frequently part of her process. Her favorite characters to dress? The villains, of course. A woman after my own heart!
It was a pleasure to gain insight into the costume design process. There are so many movies that visually feed my soul, and I know it’s because of fantastic creatives like Sandy. Thank you for the experience, MAC!