Tech Support: Lindy Hemming on dressing Bond… and Bane

Posted by · 4:53 am · June 19th, 2012

Lindy Hemming — who surely has the best name ever for a costume designer — may have won an Oscar over 12 years ago for the fussy Victorian finery of Mike Leigh’s “Topsy-Turvy,” but the Welsh-born veteran’s reputation these days rests on decidedly more modern-day gear. It may not be as Academy-friendly a niche, but Hemming has become something of an expert in the art of dressing the action hero — or even, in one very famous case, the superhero.

Hemming is the woman who saw James Bond through two contemporary redesigns: boarding the franchise with Pierce Brosnan on 1995’s “GoldenEye,” she also clothed the character’s rougher reincarnation as Daniel Craig in 2006’s “Casino Royale.” She’s also responsible for Lara Croft’s painted-on silver bodysuits in the “Tomb Raider” films, and did wardrobe duty on one of “Harry Potter” films.

Perhaps most notably of all, however, she’s the person Christopher Nolan chose to refashion Batman for the 21st century — though it’s more likely her iconic interpretation of the Joker’s famous green-and-purple ensemble in “The Dark Knight” that landed her a Costume Designers’ Guild award (in the fantasy category, though the beauty of the film’s costumes was precisely their non-fantastical nature) as well as a BAFTA nod. (The Academy, ever shy of contemporary work in the category, couldn’t go there.)  

Two of these franchise associations will keep Hemming much in the spotlight this summer. Naturally, we’ll see the latest extension of her Gotham City wardrobe next month in “The Dark Knight Rises” (more on that in a bit), but James Bond will also be keeping her busy: she may not be working on “Skyfall,” but she’s curating a blockbuster exhibition at London’s Barbican center on various aspects of 007 design, in honor of the franchise’s 50th anniversary. (With five credits, she’s the longest-serving costume designer in the films’ history, so she’s more informed on this subject than most.)

Designing 007: 50 Years of Bond Style runs from 6 July to 5 September, handily coinciding with the Olympic Games: there couldn’t be a better time to run an exhibition on this most British of cultural exports. Costume will obviously be extensively featured — yes, Ursula Andress’s white bikini from “Dr. No” included — but the exhibition will also cover production design, storyboards, gadgets and visual effects across all 22 Bond films, making it a must for all series fanatics lucky enough to be in the British capital this summer. I’m planning a visit.

Speaking exclusively to Clothes on Film, Hemming offered this taste of what the exhibition has to offer:

“Very few costumes from the early films were kept, and not much of anything else, however Sir Ken Adam, the great production designer, had saved much of his design output, so we had that, plus we decided to re-create some of the iconic items, like Honor Blackman”s gold waistcoat from Goldfinger (1964), some very beautiful early evening dresses, and as everyone by now knows, some exquisite tailoring re-creation by Anthony Sinclair for our Sean Connery mannequin.

When I was designing for Bond I took great joy in referencing the clothes from past films, or the colours. Most notably, I attempted my own take on the iconic white bikini worn by Ursula Andress in Dr. No (1962) while designing Halle Berry”s orange bikini and belt from Die Another Day (2002), and with Daniel Craig”s trunks from Casino Royale (2006) being a nod to Sean Connery”s pale blue poplin pair worn in Thunderball (1965), which are being re created for me by Sunspel. The white bikini has been loaned to us for the exhibition and it is the first time it has been exhibited.”

Check out the rest here.

Meanwhile, while browsing for Hemming-related scraps, I also came across this brief interview she gave to British GQ magazine back in March, in which she discusses her upcoming work on “The Dark Knight Rises” — with particular emphasis on Tom Hardy’s Bane character. Most of us have now seen the striking, distinctly unseasonal (though, according to the magazine’s fashion know-it-alls, “surprisingly on-trend”) military sheepskin overcoat that looks to be the character’s signature garment, and Hemming explains the inspiration for it as follows: 

“Bane was meant to look like a cross between a dictator and a revolutionary… I designed the coat myself – it took a year. We took inspiration from a Swedish army jacket and a French Revolution frock coat and amalgamated the two. It was a pain to have made, because in LA shearling is not their sort of thing: there weren’t the tailors who could work with the fabric.”

Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne will remain in his regular Armani tailoring, while Hemming promises that “few changes” have been made to the bat suit. Business as usual, then: the villains don’t only get the best lines, but the best clothes too.

For more views on movies, awards season and other pursuits, follow @GuyLodge on Twitter.

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