Tuesday, June 2, 2015

R.I.P. Julie Harris (1921-2015)

Julie Harris
When it comes to the look of the film, very few people notice how hard it is to design the wardrobe. Whether it is the simple use of a shirt and jacket combination or a period piece costume with elegant sequins, there's something important about putting effort into it. It creates iconography and makes a story more interesting visually. Among the costume designers who have made an impact is Julie Harris, who passed away today at the age of 94 in London, England. With a career spanning 50 years, she was responsible for a lot of the iconic looks ranging from A Hard Day's Night to The Great Muppet Caper. Her work continues to stand the test of time with their magnificence and beauty.

Harris's first movie was Holiday Camp in 1947. From there, she went on to have a memorable career designing outfits for both the James Bond parody Casino Royale (1967) and the actual James Bond film Live and Let Die. She would also work on films as diverse as Rollerball (1975) and Swiss Family Robinson. Among her more noteworthy projects was working with The Beatles on the films Help! and A Hard Day's Night. In an interview, she once joked that she was one of the only people to see John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison naked. She also worked with actors such as Alan Ladd, Lauren Bacall, Joan Crawford, and Bette Davis as well as directors Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, and John Schlesinger.

It was with Schlesinger that she was nominated for and won her only Oscar for Best Costume Design (Black and White) for the film Darling. It was during this time that she had found her stride as a designer. During the ceremony, when the award was presented by Lana Turner and James Garner, she wasn't present to accept. Instead, two women went onstage and presented a speech comically in her place.

Check out the video below:

While she would continue to work on films, she eventually transitioned into TV films. Over the course of her career, she won two BAFTAS (including one for Darling) and was nominated for an additional four. She also worked on the swords and sandals parody Carry On Cleo, which she considers to be perhaps the best of the series. She died after a brief illness from a chest infection at the age of 94. She leaves behind an impressive legacy and one that is full of high achievements in costume design.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for that excellent tribute to a very talented lady.