Fave designers: Travis Banton. Adrian. Gwen Wakeling (“Grapes of Wrath,” “How Green Was My Valley,” “Cover Girl”). “Adrian’s fabulous sensitivity and awareness and fabulous drama; Travis Banton because of his almost posterlike design sense, and his use of black and white. And of course he dressed Marlene Dietrich. And I loved his couture stuff as well. And Gwen just because I felt a marvelous kinship even when I was a child. I was even introduced to her.”
Seminal films: ” ‘The Women.’ I saw it when I was about 6. I didn’t want to be a costume designer, I wanted to be an illustra-tor. Yet I was so bowled over by Adrian’s work, particularly the shell clip that was on Norma Shearer’s lapel on her suit. Later in my career, I did some dresses, I thought they came from me, but they looked like Adrian. I must have channeled them.
“All of Marlene Dietrich and Garbo’s films. I loved ‘Camille.’ That was just overwhelming to me, certainly affected everything I’ve ever done. ‘Shanghai Express’ with Dietrich. The clothes in those two just absolutely have colored my life. They seem to glow from within like a cache of crystals, and I’ve always been very partial to minerals and crystals. And they were classically glorious. Black and white, for the most part. And values of gray. Not just because of black and white, also because the clothes were black and white on a fabulous high design level.
Underappreciated: ” ‘Angels and Insects.’ Overlooked on many levels. The costumes were breathtaking. They weren’t just copies of insects. It was high Victoriana, they were absolutely expressive of that, as well as the insect markings. ‘The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover.’ I loved Helen Mirren’s costumes in that. But the rest of the movie I just loathed. Iconoclasm is wonderful to a point.”