How did you get
involved in costume design?
Ever since I was
little I wanted to be a costume designer. As a young girl my
Mother taught me to sew and I began creating clothing. I went
into costume as opposed to fashion because of the love of
story. I also grew up in Hollywood and was constantly
surrounded by film and tv shoots. After graduating from
Parsons School of Design in New York with a B.F.A. in fashion I began
working with costume designers and trained under such wonderful mentors
as Jane Greenwood, Ann Roth and Santo Loquasto.
How did you get
involved in Narnia?
I worked with Andrew
Adamson, the director, on Shrek and Shrek 2.
Had you read the
No, I had not read the
books. I had no idea of the following the Chronicles had
until I got involved in this project. So unlike others who
had a child's memory of the story my view was fresh and
adult. That said my son was four when we started
this project and he provided me with many childlike insights.. The
evolution of the White Witch's costumes was inspired by him.
What was your
approach to costuming the worlds of Narnia?
Research, research and more
research! From museums, books,
periodicals, paintings, textile designs, organic images,
mythological illustrations, anatomy studies etc. To design
one needs information first. Then with that knowledge you can
How much did you
interact with the text of the book itself for inspiration? Did you draw
upon other books in the Chronicles as well?
More than you (or I) can
imagine! I can not tell you how many times I have read
it. Depending on what area of the story we were working on I
constantly referred back to the chapters for clues and
inspiration. And yes, the other books were also helpful.
Although LWW is the first time in the Chronicles we meet the children,
it was helpful to understand where their characters were going.
Can you tell us
about the process of designing and creating a single costume?
There is a very long and
involved answer to this question. So instead I
will explain the general process of building the costumes.
I start with character
analysis. Who are they, where are they and what are they
doing? Once an actor is chosen for the role then their
personality and physicality are taken into account. The research is
done and the sketching begins. Then we begin to gather the
textiles and do whatever textile design needs to be done.
Fabric is woven, dyed, embroidered etc. The cutter/draper
works with the sketch to create a mock up of the costume to begin the
fittings with the actor. From there the pattern and the
textiles are combined to create the costume. Several fittings
and adjustments are made, the accessories are designed and
manufactured. The final fitting and director approval ensue
and with any luck you take it to camera. Now in the case of
an actor who is also a minor, you need to make at least two of
everything for the photo
double, stunt double etc. We made about 12 blue Lucy "Narnia"
dresses. Although it appears to be a rather simple dress it
was frankly very labor intensive.
Which did you prefer
- researching and recreating WWII period costumes, or coming up with
original fantasy designs for the world of Narnia? Which was
I throughly enjoyed
both. The period costumes were a wonderful way to start - a
familiar place to begin, having designed period costumes my whole
career. I spent two weeks in London researching and
collecting textile information. Shirley Greene, an evacuee of
WWII, guided me through London on my quest. The
Museum of Childhood, a subsidiary of the V&A, was the
most helpful with hands on research. Between Shirley and the
curator, I viewed dozens of authentic pieces from Liberty bodices to
overcoats. Also very valuable were the stories from these
wonderful women on what the time was really like as a child during the
war. The most challenging aspect of period costume
today is the proper textiles. We had all four of the
children's woolen overcoats woven in the colors and pattens desired by
Rabbit Goody of Thistle Hill in upstate New York. Some pieces
were vintage and others manipulated to our needs. The rubber buttons on
Lucy's liberty bodice were vintage, purchased in London.
The fantasy costumes were like
entering Narnia . . . a different movie all together. The
research was varied depending on who we were designing. It
was really loads of fun. There was no time to get bored on
LWW. The White Witch, Ginnarbrick, Father Christmas and all
the amazing creatures were all so diverse. Although all in
Narnia, each is unique.
The White Witch was the most
challenging by far. When I came on to the project there had
been a year of conceptualizing. I was handed 97 images that
had been illustrated by WETA and several different artist.
Andrew was not sold on any of them . . . if that wasn't daunting I
don't know what is. So I started fresh and with the inspiration of
our wonderful Production Designer (Roger Ford) we came up with the ice
images. Always having wanted an ice crown that melted away, I
put his images together with my Son's concept of her "evolving" as
opposed to "changing" clothing. She is organic, half
witch/half giant not human. Tilda come into the picture as
the perfect canvas and a wonderful collaborator. Together
with my team we created the fabric, used some contemporary design for
drama and freshness and Voila . . . the White Witch. Although
I have just simplified the process it was a very satisfying and yes, the
most challenging character.
Do you have a
personal favorite costume?
Not really. I love
Lucy's first trip into Narnia smocked dress and sweater.
Ginnarbrick and Father Christmas are also favorites of
mine. The White Witch at her camp and four costumes you will
not see until you see the movie - the four grown up Kings and Queens of
What was it like
working with the actors? Did they have any input on the design process?
I have worked with actors my
whole life. This was a particularly lovely group.
The children were professional, although Skander was a young man on the
move - he had a tough time standing still for fittings. But
we loved him anyway. Their input is always
welcomed. They have to wear the costume and it is my job to
make sure they feel right in them. The costume should always
help the actor "feel" the part not hinder them.
What were your sources of
inspiration for the children's Narnian clothes? Did you draw
on any specific historical periods, or Pauline Baines's illustrations?
The children's clothes were
inspired by the Pre-Raphaelite painting of the turn of the
century. Their beauty, simplicity and romantic
characteristics were what the director was drawn to. Also the
fact that the first book The Magicians Nephew takes place in Edwardian
times. In that story Narnia is created. These
painters painted in that time their vision of Medieval times.
It all made sense. I did not use any of the Pauline Baines
illustrations as inspiration. These illustrations were drawn
in the 1950's about the 1940's and have strong 50's
influences. But I will say, Mr. Tumnus' scarf is right out of
Ernie Malik has referred to
the "7 transformations" of the White Witch. Did they all make
it to the film? Have we seen/identified all of them, or are
there more to come?
They are all in the
film. As I referred to earlier I think of it more as her
evolution. She is a mood ring. Her crown
melts. She goes from icy white to midnight blue and then
chain. Her silhouette narrows and grows as her sense of power
diminishes or is reinstated. There is no
in or out of her garments because she is not human, she is a witch.
A lot of symbolism
seems to have gone in to her costumes. Can
you tell us a little more about this? What went into the
construction of her gowns?
The fabric we created for her
dress is directly related to the ice
images I spoke of earlier. The first layer is a velvet dyed
with resist areas for a modeled look. The second layer is felted
wool and silk. The raw materials were dyed and then felted
to fit the shape of each dress. The sheen of the silk is what gave us icy lines and
begins to create the depth. The final layer is the lace. This is
metallic thread and organza pieces, also dyed, sewn onto a burn out fabric. We would draw
the ice crackle from a small scale to a larger scale at the hem of the dress.
This gives us the illusion of height, she is a giant. Then a seamstress
would machine endless amounts of thread over the lines and finally we would burn out
the back. Each panel was made this way for all of the six
dresses. Once the lace was ready we would hand sew it on to the felted dress and then and only
then the dress would truly come to life. Tilda use to comment on how
amazing it was when we would lay on that last layer. It was always a
little piece of magic.
We already know you
used Stansborough Weavers, N.Z., and Thistle Hill, US, to
resource some of your fabrics? Can you tell us about other
fabrics and/or companies you used?
We source fabrics from all
over the world. New Zealand is an
island and although they do not have much in stock, we could order
anything from anywhere. Yarn from Scotland, fabric from
Italy, France and China. We purchased from Los Angeles, New York and
London. The two vendors you mentioned above were houses that wove fabric for
Any word on Prince Caspian?
No, your guess is
as good as mine.
I hope that you enjoyed some
of the information I have
shared. I would like to thank all of you for your enthusiasm
and interest in the
costumes from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
I have seen some of the reproductions online and I am charmed by all of
it. How creative you all are. I do hope you enjoy the film.
It was a pleasure to bring this beautiful story to the screen. I hope
you have half as much fun watching it as I did making it.