Award winning British costume designer Sandy Powell to be honored with BAFTA Fellowship

Sandy Powell OBE is to be the first costume designer awarded a BAFTA Fellowship – the arts charity’s highest honor, with the Fellowship to be presented at the EE BAFTA Film Awards on 19 February.
Award winning British costume designer Sandy Powell to be honored with BAFTA Fellowship

Costume designer Sandy Powell will be awarded a Fellowship at the EE BAFTA Film Awards, taking place on 19 February. It is the highest accolade bestowed by BAFTA upon an individual in recognition of an outstanding and exceptional contribution to film, games or television. Sandy Powell is the first costume designer to be awarded the BAFTA Fellowship.

About receiving the Fellowship from BAFTA, Powell said: “I am hugely flattered to receive the BAFTA Fellowship and especially proud to be the first Costume Designer. I am lucky in that I love what I do and have been extremely fortunate to have collaborated with some of the most talented and inspirational people in the industry both behind and in front of the camera. I look forward to many more years to come.”

In 2018, Powell spoke during an insightful masterclass honoring her work in Doha, as she was one of the DFI's Qumra Masters that year. "Most of the time, we are not making documentaries," she said, about her work and how much creative license she allows herself. It was a quote that explained the creative license of costume designers but also a kind of mantra for filmmaking today. Too much of it is not detached enough from reality to entertain -- and cinema is about entertaining an audience, first and foremost.

Our E. Nina Rothe caught up with Powell for The National, as her work was featured later that year in Yorgos Lanthimos’ Venice Film Festival fave, pardon the pun, The Favourite.

Sandy Powell is one of the world’s most revered costume designers. Her visual masterpieces span three-and-a-half decades of some of the most iconic films of the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries and have garnered multiple awards. Her extensive body of work spans period films from of course,The Favourite and Shakespeare in Love -- for the latter she won one of her three Best Costume Design Academy Awards -- to fantasy productions including Mary Poppins Returns and Cinderella, to Wolf of Wall Street, The Irishman and Velvet Goldmine. She has been nominated for an Oscar fifteen times!

Powell studied theatre design in her native London at the Central School of Art and Design, but chose to make costumes and not enter the ready to wear fashion world because, she admitted "I think I was interested in the world of theatre and film, and I enjoy telling stories and making characters, as opposed to just putting nice clothes on good-looking people.”

Powell entered the film world by working on Caravaggio, the 1986 film by British director Derek Jarman, and was also responsible for the iconic gender-bending costumes featured on Tilda Swinton, a frequent collaborator, in Sally Potter's Orlando.

Most recently credits for Powell include Oliver Hermanus’ Living and Marc Webb’s Snow White, which is currently in post-production. Previous honorees include Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Sean Connery, Elizabeth Taylor, Stanley Kubrick, Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Olivier, Judi Dench, Vanessa Redgrave, Christopher Lee, Martin Scorsese, Alan Parker, Helen Mirren, Mike Leigh and Sidney Poitier, among many others.

Jane Millichip, CEO of BAFTA, said: “Sandy Powell is not only a great designer, she is a great storyteller. Her costumes are mesmerising in their beauty, but they also interpret narrative brilliantly and provide the infrastructure for character. For more than three decades, Sandy has raised awareness for the craft of costume design in film and provided a spotlight for designers in the act of filmmaking. We look forward to honouring Sandy’s work this month at our EE BAFTA Film Awards and to working with her over the next year to inspire the next generation of costume designers and storytellers.”

Sandy Powell's personal fashion philosophy is one we can all learn from: “Sometimes I’ll wear something that’s a bit severe, because I actually want to appear in control or in charge. If I don’t want someone to get the better of me, I’ll dress in a certain way – if I want to do a sort of ‘don’t mess with me’, I have certain looks I can do.”

The EE BAFTA Film Awards will take place on the 19th of February, airing on BBC One and iPlayer from 19:00–21:00 UK time.

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