Despite hubby Baz Luhrmann and the preening, prawning Gatsby of Leonardo DiCaprio, Costume and Production Designer Catherine Martin squeezed two Oscars out of that sad puppy. And I doubly respect her. When we talk about women in Hollywood, sometimes we overlook the crafts where women dominate, like costume design and casting. I recently wrote a Tribeca Film Festival preview piece for Variety and interviewed Martin at medium length. We only used one quote about New York. No worries. That’s the collaborative process. But here are the outtakes from that interview — and they’re fascinating.
Me: How rare is it to be both production and costume designer – and how do the two influences each other in your work?
Catherine Martin: When you live it, it’s very difficult to imagine another way of being, and you don’t think of
yourself as a rare bird. I think one of the great advantages for me, in terms of being a costume and production designer is you get to harmonize how the costume and set work together in a very instantaneous and very real way.
Can you address ways in which your costume design has influenced contemporary fashion – and, how, inversely, in films like The Great Gatsby you researched the historical period and then creatively reinvented the looks in collaboration with you husband, Director Baz Luhrmann, and his thematic re-imagining of the period?
CM: Oh my goodness, this is a very complicated question. I think you never go into a work, thinking very much about how you’re going to influence someone, rather you go into a work trying to understand the director’s vision, the vision of the author, the lives of the characters, and if they fit in historical context, what existed at the time, what were the signs and symbols that the clothing of the time captured, what do they say to the contemporary audience when you saw someone walking down the street. So I think very much one of Baz’s focuses on all the films is to really examine in the fullest possible way, how it felt to be a character in a period that you’re exploring, how it felt to wear their clothes, how it felt to walk in their shoes, and those signs and symbols that those garments gave off to their contemporaries. [Read more…]