Costume designer Jany Temime forged a long career designing the iconic looks of beloved franchises from Harry Potter to James Bond as well as the upcoming Black Widow. However, she sought a very different kind of challenge, recreating the wardrobe of one of Hollywood’s greatest icons, Judy Garland.
Taking the time to speak with Awards Daily, Temime detailed what it was like to go from the giant budget of a fantasy epic to the creative challenges of recreating the Hollywood glamour of the ’60s on a tight budget. She discussed her lifelong passion for Garland herself, and what she discovered about the icon throughout research process, particularly how the star used her over-the-top wardrobe as a self-protecting armor.
Awards Daily: Recently you’ve become best known for your work in a handful of major franchises like James Bond and Harry Potter. What inspired you to go from that to something like Judy?
Jany Temime: To a do a movie with no money, haha! I was on the set of one of those big movies and saw a paper that an extra had left behind with an article about Renée playing Judy in a film directed by Rupert [Goold]. I know Rupert as this amazing theater director, and I know his wife. I’m completely crazy about Judy Garland, and the combination of Judy Garland, Renee Zellweger, and Rupert Goold was going to be incredible. I called my agent and told them I wanted to do it, and that I didn’t care they didn’t have any money it! I had to convince them that I could do a film without money because they weren’t that sure. I arrived at the interview more prepared than I had ever been with documents and sketches and finally they took me on!
I’ve always been a fan of Judy Garland, and that’s why I wanted to work on the film. But more than being a fan, I was also drawn to working with Rupert Goold. He’s a theater director and has an incredible sense of stage. Of course that would lend itself well to her story. Renée brought a sense of fragility and star power and more than anyone else she understands how hard it is to be a star.
AD: You mentioned that the the budget for the film was small. How challenging was that especially factoring in the fact that it’s a period piece centered around a glamorous Hollywood icon?
JT: It was an enormous challenge because we had no money and no time. I worked on my own for two months and I wasn’t used to it but I loved it so much. We were all so enthusiastic about the work. But it was tough. I would have to work with four meters of fabric when I’m used to having twenty. Everything I did had to be exact. I wasn’t able to make doubles of any outfit so the entire time I was just hoping that we wouldn’t run into any problems. At times it was tense but the atmosphere was fantastic.
AD: What was the research process like?
JT: I spent a long, long, long time in research. I wanted to know as much as I could about her. About what she was wearing in real life, about what she wore in her early films, and what she was wearing while performing. There were so many things I looked into including her performances at Carnegie Hall, Talk of the Town, all her interviews. There were so many things to help me understand what she wore and that’s how I discovered she was using costumes as an armor. She was never showing herself and was protecting herself against the public with loud and glamorous things. I use that element a lot in the film and every time she was on stage I put her in something very loud, very strong, and very shiny. When she’s in her normal life and alone I put her in things much softer and much simpler.
AD: Did your process change at all once you began working with Renée and her very specific physicality she adopted?
JT: It was not Judy Garland I was dressing. It instead Renee Zellweger as Judy Garland which is a different story. She immediately took a certain posture with round shoulders, bellying side. I had to build her dresses that way. She has a certain way of walking. I had to take all that into consideration because I was helping an actress create her part.
AD: As you were in the research process what elements of her wardrobe immediately stuck out, particularly at this late stage of her life?
JT: She married a younger man and made that terrible mistake of trying to look younger than your age which is something so many do in that case. She started having that crazy carnival street style and almost clownesque costumes because it was the sixties, London, and dating a much younger man. I wanted to show that because it was a side of her personality to try do to her best and to hope that her next husband would be the one to bring her happiness. It was quite important to show her that way. She is such a goer believing that this guy was going to bring her the moon and she follows it and of course she comes right back. I followed that wedding look, that happy marriage moment.
AD: Speaking of her fifth marriage, the wedding dress in the film is very unique. What was recreating that look like?
JT: That was the only costume that looked the most like the original. First the original was so crazy that I could not have thought of anything better and second because once upon a time the director originally thought he wanted to intercut the scene with real images from the wedding so I would need to make it identical. I couldn’t copy the original because of copyright reasons but I was very much inspired by that light blue and the crazy little hat.
AD: We see a handful of her performance outfits from her time performing at Talk of the Town and I’m sure it’s only a glimpse into everything she wore back then. What was the decision process like for these specific numbers?
JT: Yes this goes back to the idea that every costume is an armor. Every dress was a symbol. I had to tell her entire story in 20 costumes. For the opening night I knew I wanted something with big flowers to make her look strong and together when she was actually completely broken. There was that opposition. That was the same story with the red dress and the feather when she is completely broken up with the television smoking the cigarette in the rain. The opposition between the costume armor and the painful broken woman she was inside. She needed the shine of the clothes to confront the public.
AD: Everything we’ve discussed so far featured vibrant colors, feathers, over the top scarves – all in true Judy fashion. What led to the choice of dressing her in all black for her final number?
JT: It wasn’t my idea to finish the film in all black but Renée insisted on it. When I saw her singing that song in that dress I knew she was right. It was the perfect decision because in that moment she wasn’t fighting anymore, she had sort of given up and knew what was going to happen.
AD: One of the things I noticed in my second viewing was the attention to detail with the London street fashion.
JT: It was quite important to put it in the context of the sixties. I think Judy Garland is, I say it in French, “admirable,” an admirable woman. A remarkable woman. This was a very bourgeoisie period. You needed a husband and no one liked a working mom and she was all that. She was so obsessed with getting a regular life. She was on her own with her kids, trying to live, trying to work. It was a modern side of her. I really wanted to take time to show the period in all of its craziness and detail.
I thought the scene with the two gay men was extremely important. It took us back to the morality of the sixties and just how modern she was. It was a side of her that we should not forget.
AD: Every viewing, during Judy’s final performance when the audience joins her my eye is immediately drawn to the woman in the bright gold outfit. I can’t take my eyes off her!
JT: Yes, yes yes I wanted that! I wanted this woman and pushed her upfront because I wanted it to have this flame! I worked hard on those details!
AD: No one ever likes to answer this question truthfully but do you have a favorite look from the film?
JT: Oh yes of course! You always have a favorite. You say, “They’re like my kids,” but you always have a favorite. In this case it’s the orange suit with the green suit in the beginning. For me it’s a characteristic of the sixties, and it’s something that immediately gives us a glimpse of her personality. She’s trying to be a modern woman, a strong woman. She’s also wearing it the morning after the night before. It’s completely the wrong thing to be wearing. That suit carries so much and it’s perfect. I wanted to steal it!