We understand that you traveled the globe to piece together the SWATH costumes. What's that process like?
"Well, I’ve been doing this for a long time, and one part of my job is traveling, but they don’t just let you say, ‘I want to go to Italy to go shopping.' There are different costume houses in the world that have strengths and weaknesses. So, for this era, I went to Turelli and Rome, because they do a lot of operas and have these medieval costumes. I was based in Europe and, except for the armor, that’s where I prepped this movie. I also went to another costume house in Carnaco, Spain, which had some of the armor bits for the every day people in the film. The wedding dress I bought when I was in Paris for the weekend. I have an old-fashioned fabric store in Paris that I go to, and there are fewer and fewer of them. It’s a superstitious place I go where I feel like I’ll always find one lucky thing."
Is it a dream to work on these massive-budget films?
"The downside is the paperwork because when you do a studio movie you need receipts and paperwork that they can understand. The studios are owned by corporations, so the rules for the paperwork emanate from a huge corporate level that isn’t necessarily about costume design. So, it’s quite maddening sometimes because you find the most amazing stuff, but you can’t just buy whatever you want, however you want. If you buy something outside of the country, you have to bring it in and the cost of shipping nowadays is so high that something will cost twice as much."
How do you go about researching costumes for a movie of this epic proportion?
"The Beverly Hills Public Library was a great source. They have a really good art department and it’s basically free. We use different libraries around town, museums, and online research."
How much time did it take from the initial research phase to actually getting the actors in their garb?
"First, I started with the silver army, which you have all seen in the trailer. That’s about a six-month process from start to finish when you’re manufacturing and assembling five or six hundred costumes that are armor."
How much are you in the story when you’re creating costumes? Do you become part of the story?
"It’s just in my head, all the time. Sometimes I have dreams about the day. The story is present in what I have left ahead of me to do. It’s just there until I’m done."
Photo: Courtesy of NBC Universal