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‘Brooklyn’ Costume Designer on How Clothes ‘Become an Integral Part of the Story’

Brooklyn” costume designer Odile Dicks-Mireaux found a world of differences in how women dressed in 1952 Brooklyn versus Ireland.

“Women in Ireland didn’t really wear high heels — they only came out on Sundays, because it was so expensive to get them repaired,” she recalled Wednesday night at a Fox Searchlight cocktail party at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in downtown Los Angeles.

Capturing the look and feel of post-war Ireland required digging up clothes that were even older than the time period portrayed onscreen, Dicks-Mireaux added.

“In Ireland, a lot of people were wearing things that were five years old — particularly the older women,” she  said. “I wanted to do the real clothes, not sentimental. People in Ireland had nice clothes at that time, but not a lot of them.”

Dicks-Mireaux also browsed costume houses in England, Los Angeles and Montreal to find the appropriate costuming.

“We found that wonderful green swimsuit [Saoirse Ronan’s character wore] in London,” she recalled. “That’s what great costumes do — they become an integral part of the story. Saoirse was fantastic to work with in that she’d try on anything.”

With the worldwide box office at $50 million, producer Finola Dwyer opined that the resonance of the immigration story stems from the simple theme of home.

“We all leave home, and when we do, your relationship to home changes,” the New Zealand native mused. “‘Brooklyn’ is not flashy material, but it does have an emotional hold on people.”

Dwyer noted that she and producing partner Amanda Posey became the first female team to be nominated for a best picture for “An Education” in 2009. They’re again nominated in the same category for “Brooklyn.”

Ronan is nominated for best actress and Nick Hornby’s script is up for adapted screenplay. Dicks-Mireaux received a BAFTA nomination, her second following “An Education.”

Fox released the Digital HD version of “Brooklyn” on Tuesday. The DVD release is on March 15.

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