Brooklyn is set to hit the big screen this weekend and costume designer Odile Dicks-Mireaux has captured the look and feel of 1950s Ireland and New York through the costumes that she created.
We caught up with Odile to chat about working on the film, created two distinctive looks for the movie and working with Oscar-nominated actress Saoirse Ronan.
- Brooklyn is set to hit the big screen this week and you designed the costumes for the film. How did you get involved in the project?
I was asked to meet John Crowley by the producers Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey.
- Can you talk about the first steps that you take once you have a script or source material and you know what the director is looking for? How do you move forward and start the work?
My first steps are to research the period. I did this through photographic images from the period. I made a book for Ireland and then the US. I would check any good museum archives, I used Brooklyn museum and the Kennelly archive in Ireland. I looked at Inge Morath photos, Saul Leiter, Vivian Maier.
I would also after reading the script do a story breakdown of the characters, then I would go and look in the Costume Houses to see what costumes may be available to hire. I started with Saoirse's character as she had the largest wardrobe.
I also used my personal family photos and look at some home movies belonging to the producer and some movies on YouTube.
- The movie is set in 1950s Ireland and New York, so what kind of looks and feel were you keen to capture in the costumes of this time?
In my discussions with John, we decided we wanted to capture the different worlds of Ireland and Brooklyn. I felt this could be done with colour and different textures and in the different types of clothes available in each country after the Second World War. We wanted the film to look real and the characters to look natural not stylised.
- Can you talk a bit about how the costumes when the film is set in Ireland differ from those when it is set in New York?
In Ireland, I selected clothes that were more home spun, home knits, tweed fabrics, more practical less flamboyant. In New York, I used more colour, bolder fabrics and patterns and looked to some of the Hollywood films of the time for inspiration.
- The movie is based on the novel of the same name by Colm Tóibín, so what kind of inspiration did you take from the book?
It really was the emotional story of Eilis which I wanted to convey through her choice of clothes.
- John Crowley is in the director's chair for the film and how hands-on was he during the designing and developing of the costumes? Was there anything that was keen for the costumes to capture?
After our initial discussions, John trusted me to work with the actors to create wardrobes which he then would approve. He was always very approachable if I needed to talk over anything.
- Saoirse Ronan takes on the central character of Ellis, a character that goes on a huge journey during the film. How do the costumes chart that development and change that we see in her?
It starts with the clothes she brings with her from Ireland to New York. We then follow her gradual choices while she is in Brooklyn as a young woman so by the time she returns to Ireland, she has a completely different wardrobe all American.
- How did you find working with Saoirse? Did she bring any ideas to the table for the look of her character?
I really enjoyed working with Saoirse, she was extremely generous with her time and worked with me to create the wardrobe. She was very complimentary about her wardrobe. It would be a pleasure to work with her again
- The film is packed with some wonderful costumes, but is there a piece that you like the most or was particularly great to create?
I am very fond of the yellow dress, I bought this dress in a vintage shop in Montreal, it reminded me of a family photo I had. It was wonderful when I tried it on Saoirse and the colour suited her, she looked great and she really liked it for her character.
- Filming on your latest project The Sense of an Ending has got underway, so how is work on that project going?
It was fun to go shopping for contemporary clothes again, but I did enjoy doing the flashbacks in the mid-1960s.
- How did you get into costume design in the first place?
I think it was when I went to see the ballet Swan Lake when I was very young and then I loved watching lots of black and white Hollywood films starring the likes of Greta Garbo and Vivian Leigh.
I soon realised I wanted to be part of a creative team working together creating Worlds away from the present. I really enjoy immersing myself in stories
- Finally, what's next for you?
I am hoping to work on a film set in the late 90s already a period!
Brooklyn is released 6th November.
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