Lindy Hemming is the Academy Award Winning costume designer for Topsy-Turvy. Her designs have graced the hilarious Four Weddings And A Funeral, Angelina Jolie’s Tomb Raider blockbusters, TWO James Bond movies, and the family classic Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets.
She cemented her status as a comic fan’s costume designer of choice with her superlative work on Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises.
Her designs and original costumes for these legendary Bat movies are on show at the excellent DC Exhibition: Dawn Of Superheroes at the O2 in London, which is running until September. DC World was fortunate enough to attend the press preview for this amazing event, a day before it opened to the public. Lindy was there, and I was honoured to sit down and chat with her about her amazing career.
The Dark Knight Trilogy
Dawn Of The Superheroes
LH: Working on contemporary cinema is actually harder. With a superhero movie, capes and armour, it can move into the dimensions of fantasy. With something like Four Weddings, we have to make multiple costumes, which have to be worn over days, or weeks of filming by actors. Taken off, and put on again, remain comfortable, functional, and be ultimately durable. Because they just look like “ordinary” clothes, though, they don’t get the attention, or recognition that a Batsuit, or Amazonian armour do.
SJR: Wow. That’s actually fascinating, and not something that I would’ve thought about.
Send In The Clowns
Being A Clown’s No Joke
Lindy Hemming’s Bane
SJR: How much exposure to, or knowledge of comics did you have prior to working with Christopher Nolan?
LH: Very little. It wasn’t a medium I had a great deal of knowledge about. Since then I have learned to appreciate it. Every film starts off with a word on a page. Every costume starts as a drawing on a piece of paper. It’s the same with comics; a flash of inspiration can lead to a creation that stands the test of time, and then, years or decades down the line, makes the transition to the silver screen.
SJR: Absolutely. This year will mark Superman’s 80th anniversary, next year Batman’s will follow. Wonder Woman will celebrate her 80th in just 3 years’ time. You brought her, along with her Amazon family, and history to the big-screen for the very first time in live-action. How did that compare to your previous work?
LH: It was great fun to make. Of course, it brought lots of challenges, due to the time period, and the very different locations, and locales.
SJR: Of course! There are scenes in the present, and on the streets of London, and the battlefields of Europe during World War One. Then there’s also the Paradise Island of Themyscira. What a rich tapestry!
LH: Yes indeed. I got to work with beautiful gowns, WWI uniforms, Wonder Woman’s more, shall we say reserved, formal wear? Plus the armor and battle gear of a whole society of warrior women.
SJR: I love all the different animal motifs you used. Each woman shared a similar design ethic, but still had their own unique feel and individuality. Was all of it based on Greek myth, and historical research?
LH: Thank you. Some of it goes back further still. There are stories of female warriors, and women in battle going back thousands of years! Nubia and Canaan, Ancient Egypt, the Assyrians, Celts, and even Ancient China of the 13th Century BC.
SJR: Fascinating. I love the way that they bear a resemblance to Diana’s “Superheroic” garb, but aren’t all identical.
LH: Yes. I had to build on and translate what Michael (Wilkinson – costume designer on Batman V Superman, who created Wonder Woman’s costume) had made.
Durablity And Practicality
SJR: The battle gear is amazing. In terms of materials used, and variety of style.
LH: Yes, I worked with leather armor, metal, plus the more conventional silks and cottons. On Wonder Woman it’s hard to think of a material we didn’t use! But of course, the over-riding factors were believability, freedom of movement, and comfort for the actors and stunt performers. Harder, less malleable versions for extreme close-ups, as well as softer, more flexible, and padded versions for battle scenes and action sequences. Some of those suits took a heck of a beating!
SJR: Are you allowed to tell us what you’ll be working on next?
LH: Working on already, I should say! Yes, I’m back with Patty Jenkins and we’ve started work on Wonder Woman II.
SJR: Yes! That’s fantastic news.
SJR: So, in closing. I’m sure that over the years you’ve been asked thousands of questions. But is there one question that you’ve always wished someone would ask you but no-one has? What is that question, and what’s the answer?
Lindy Hemming And The DC Exhibition
The event opened at the O2, in London on February 23rd, and runs until September 9th. It’s an incredible, fun day out for the whole family.
Who knows? Maybe you’ll go, and see something that shapes your future, and inspires you, just like Lindy said…
How cool would that be?