Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sherlock Holmes 2: costume designer talks to GQ UK about the film & working with RDJ

What's it like working on the sequel to Sherlock Holmes?
Well, they are of course the nicest group in the world. Guy Ritchie is heaven on wheels. I just absolutely adore him but I'm old enough to be his mother. Bless him, Guy is completely clothes-obsessed and can't quite get over the fact that I'm not. He spoke of this only yesterday: he said, "Jen, are you wearing that same coat? Haven't you got a wardrobe full?" But I said, "I'm not the least bit interested in clothes." He thought this was extraordinary. I deal with them all day every day, so I suppose it makes sense." He looks wonderful: he's taken to pocket handkerchiefs at the moment which he wears variously and well-cut tweed suits. We sold him a bit of material from one of Watson's Harris tweeds which he then wore for interviews. I was terribly touched, actually.
How's Stephen Fry as Mycroft?
Just magical. He's wearing Cosprop's finest stock. We haven't had to make a thing and he's 6' whatever. He's such a magnetic, big and well-known personality, the less you do the more he'll look like Mycroft rather than Stephen Fry. Obviously you'll never stop him looking like Stephen but if you then went to town and gave him an eccentric look like Holmes, people wouldn't get over the fact it was Stephen Fry. Whereas if you keep it straight - 19th-century frockcoats and what have you - it's a much better option. He was wonderful in Wilde. I loved him in Gosford Park, which was the first time I'd dressed him. He is such a well-known personality that he can't be disguised unless you put him under the most elaborate make-up, which is not why they wanted him. They wanted his look because he looks like an older brother of Robert in a way - it's great. But I've kept it very, very simple.
What's been the biggest challenge?
I think we may have just passed it. Due to it being such a big, action-packed film you need a lot of duplicate costumes for stunts and you have to know you can find enough fabric to do it. Sometimes that is a real challenge. You can always buy enough tweed for three-and-a-half suits but sometimes we need six to ten, depending on how many stuntmen will do different parts of the stunt and how much happens to the clothing. On something like a Mike Leigh film you can improvise where there is very little stunt work, but this is a stunt-heavy action movie. It's probably my biggest challenge: it's pure logistics. As well as Cosprop, I've got a whole team beavering away in work rooms and my chief cutter Stephen Myles. In the first one we made for all the thugs who had three of everything. He does the patterns, he cuts, he clothes them and then he makes the stuff.
How do you interact with the cast?
Robert and Jude really do bring something to it. There is a little sequence where Robert is wearing Jude's clothes, which we slightly set up in the first film. A lot of it is about the banter and the clothes - he's always nicking stuff! Sherlock must be the flatmate from hell - a bit like Jazzer in the Archers. But that came out in a moment of inspiration - that wasn't in any script I'd ever read. There's a marvellous moment where Robert is eating a bit of greasy chicken and wipes his hand on Jude's trouser leg. They use everything you give them. It's totally collaborative.
How was working with Robert?
I'm completely in love with him. He knows I'm completely in love with him so it's perfectly OK and he's married so don't worry on that account. What I love is that he throws ideas out and we can just leap on them. But you need a lot of people and a lot of money to do that - he couldn't have done it on The King's Speech. The budget is definitely more realistic - not stupid, a lot more and Warner Brothers is a very prudent company.  He's wonderful  - you get him in and you dress him up. He does talk but not quite like we're in an interview. We do it the same way as we do with everybody else, I suppose. We know what the character is - the only thing he wanted was stretch fabrics, something with a bit of lycra in it because he's so physical in the part. But it's a challenge finding Victorian-look stretch fabrics...

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