People 04 September 2017
There are more than a few reasons why people fell in love with J.K Rowling's Harry Potter series, but I think most millennials would put it down to the mesmerizing world Rowling had created from her imagination. Growing up, and with the release of the movies, people across the globe were given the chance to visually dive into the world of Harry, Ron and Hermione, and thus, the figures of Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson are forever etched into our memories as the characters you grew up with.
The few, incredibly talented people who got to create these characters for the movies are now renowned - their names etched into film history thanks to the monumental undertaking of creating the wizarding world of Harry Potter.
One such woman arrived on set for the third movie, The Prisoner of Azkaban, and worked for the rest of the series designing cast costumes and creating the iconic looks from the movies we know and love today. Jany Temime, born in France, had been working on smaller productions, and television, before she was called up to design for the Potter series, and inevitably, it kickstarted a glittering career, during which she has won both "Excellence in Contemporary Film" and "Excellence in Fantasy Film" from the Costume Designers Guild (USA). Charged with six of the eight Potter movies, she has also designed the costumed for the last two Bond movies; Spectre and Skyfall, and the second in the Bridget Jones series; The Edge of Reason. More recently, Temime has designed costumes for Passengers with Jennifer Lawrence, Gravity starring Sandra Bullock, and the upcoming Film Stars Don't Die In Liverpool with Annette Bening and Julie Walters.
Below, she talks to SWAAY about her prolific career and what it was like designing for some of the 21st century's most memorable movies to date.
Jany Temime. Photo courtesy of The Mirror
You came onto the Potter series three movies in - how did you land the role?
It was Alfonso Cuaron who asked for me. I came to see him and we had the same ideas about modernizing the film and creating characters which were more reachable for teenagers, making them much more real, giving Harry Potter an urban style and basically just making them look like the next-door teenagers, so everybody of that age could relate their problems and victories to them and they will become a symbol of a generation.
Were the Potter movies the biggest break of your career - what had you been doing beforehand?
I had done lots of art films and two films, where we had won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film. Oh, I had done loads, but it was much more art film and you can ask my agent for my CV. But Harry Potter was my big break because the films I had done before were more artsy. Although, two of them, like I said, had won the Oscar for the Best Foreign Film.
Who was your favorite of the Potter trio to work with - Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe or Rupert Grint?
They are like my children, I love them all. Each one of them for different reasons. I cannot say which one of them was my favorite because they were all so wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. It's very hard to tell, it's like if you asked which of your children is your favorite, how could you tell?
What's the difference in the creative process between working on fantasy movies like Potter versus real world like James Bond?
The creative process is the same. When you get yourself into the characters whose costume you are designing, it doesn't make too much of a difference that it is a modern hero or a fictional hero. I think that Harry Potter's heroes were very modern because we were always filming them in 2006, 2002. And the kids, they were very modern, very up to date. I never had the feeling that I was creating a historical film with Harry Potter. Bond is an action film, but it is also a very romantic film, a very aesthetic film, which is the same as Harry Potter. They are both superheroes, Harry Potter is a superhero, 007 is a superhero. They live in different worlds, that's all, but the essence of the designs is the same. You do have to create a reality which is in line with the script.
How long does it take you to turn out an entire cast's worth of costumes?
If I'm lucky, a minimum of a month between the time you learn about the characters, look for the fabric, and do the sketches using Prismacolor Soft Core Colored Pencils. Taking, you know, from the sketches to the fabric, from the fabric to the person. I mean, if you really lucky, a minimum of one month, if you are unlucky three months, because sometimes inspiration doesn't come immediately.
Costume from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Can you walk us through the process from when you have the idea for a costume to when you hand the sketch off to the fabric buyers?
So, the first thing that I do is read the script and then try to ask for some tips about the casting, because the reason for a director choosing an actor reveals a lot about his intention. For example, which sort of person he has in mind - whether it is a male or female, or you know, somebody with personality, with beauty. It's very important to find out, if they know it by that time, which actor or actress is going to play the part and what they look like. And from then on, you have to try to design something that aligns with this type of person.
So I start sketching, and I start immediately putting colors down because a wide variety of colors is the most essential part of the designs. That's why I like the Prismacolor Soft Core Colored Pencils so much, because the colors are absolutely amazing, so bold and saturated, so diversified and so fashionable. When I finish these sketches, I immediately show them to the fabric buyers because fabric is the most essential part of a costume. And then they start sourcing the fabrics, and from that point on we do a trial of the costume, making the costume out of the real fabric. Finally, we have to start fitting.
When you finish a design - how long does it take to turn around and produce it?
It is between one month and three months depending on how the trail goes. I know that the white dress of Lea Seydoux in Spectre, in the last Bond, took a lot of time because I was never happy. I was never happy with the fabric, I was never happy with the shape, something was missing. We changed the buttons a lot because I was never happy with the buttons. And then we just changed the back by cutting it differently and attaching the sleeves differently. Then the dress had more character. Sometimes, you know immediately how it should be, and sometimes it takes lots of tries to get there. So you cannot say for sure how long it will take you. Sometimes you have a deadline and you have to work more quickly because you have to make everything on time. And then sometimes you have more time and you can really play around. Sometimes it's good to work in desperation because you work a lot quicker.
What was your favorite cast to work with?
I don't know. I worked with actresses with whom I had a lot of contact.
I mean I love Lea Seydoux as a personality, but I also loved the kids of Harry Potter. I love Hermione. Emma Watson was wonderful to work with because I knew her when she was a child and then she became a teenager and a grown-up woman. It was fantastic to see the evolution, the same with Daniel Radcliffe. That was really interesting to see the evolution. But I mean Monica Belluci is an incredible, gorgeous person to work with, Ralph Fiennes is an incredible actor to work with. Basically, I really like great actors because they give you a lot of feedback and your costume is always very well worn. If you have a gorgeous lady or a gorgeous man or an incredibly good actor they put all their personality and soul in the costume that you create for them.
Costume from Spectre
When did you realize you wanted to become a costume designer?
When I was three or four years old, and I started dressing my dolls and putting them in little scenes and playing with them together and changing them all the time. That was the only thing I really wanted to do. It was a very early passion of mine.
How tough is the industry to get into - is it contact/resumé based?
I don't know there are so many different ways to get in the industry, but I think the most important is to really, really, really want it and to work really, really hard and to keep on learning, because there are so many things to learn about. You have to learn about film, you have to learn about design, you have to learn about reading a script, understanding a script. The knowledge is extreme, what you have to know is very vast. But the most important is your talent and if you really want to pursue it because you feel that you have something to express. Then you should do it and immediately getting trainee jobs in the industry. The industry can bring you a lot if you have a foot in, but you have to work very hard for many years until you have a chance of showcasing what you can do.
You work with people of all ages - what age group is the easiest to work with?
Well, I don't know, I had wonderful teenagers on Potter and I had great older ladies. Mostly if I have to make a choice, I would say that I much prefer to design for a mature woman because they know. I mean working for Monica Belluci is incredible because she knows her body, she knows what she likes. It's a lot easier to work with a mature actor or actress.
Costumes from Passengers
Who's easier to dress - men or women?
I think that women are easier than men because men are very difficult and very coquettish.
They are so vain and they never listen, but that's just because they are men. You have to tell them that's the way it is because I know better than you. And then they listen, and when they listen, you have them forever. They're always testing you, and then after that it's ok. I think that women are more used to shopping, so they have an easier approach to their bodies, so it's easier to deal with.
Do you find there are more female or male costume designers in the industry?
We have more and more men in the business, which is good. I think it's getting more equal. I think that you still have more female than male, but it's changing.
What would you say to aspiring costume designers about cracking the industry?
I should say just get into it. Whatever, whenever you can get into it. As a trainee, for free, just build up your experience.
Would you say the blending is important for you costume sketches?
The blending is very important for your sketches, because it gives you the possibility of creating your own colors, and that's extremely important for choosing fabrics.
Are there any favorite colors or techniques you want to share about Prismacolor Pencils?
No, I just think that using the Prismacolor Premier Soft Core Colored Pencils makes your life a lot easier because you can seamlessly blend the colors to create your own. This is a beautiful product to use because of how easy it is to show all the color possibilities, all the different nuances. The cores are think and the lead soft, making the blending and shading so easy, bringing the costumes to life.
Gender divisions in sports have primarily served to keep women out of what has always been believed to be a male domain. The idea of women participating alongside men has been regarded with contempt under the belief that women were made physically inferior.
Within their own division, women have reached new heights, received accolades for outstanding physical performance and endurance, and have proven themselves to be as capable of athletic excellence as men. In spite of women's collective fight to be recognized as equals to their male counterparts, female athletes must now prove their womanhood in order to compete alongside their own gender.
That has been the reality for Caster Semenya, a South African Olympic champion, who has been at the center of the latest gender discrimination debate across the world. After crushing her competition in the women's 800-meter dash in 2016, Semenya was subjected to scrutiny from her peers based upon her physical appearance, calling her gender into question. Despite setting a new national record for South Africa and attaining the title of fifth fastest woman in Olympic history, Semenya's success was quickly brushed aside as she became a spectacle for all the wrong reasons.
Semenya's gender became a hot topic among reporters as the Olympic champion was subjected to sex testing by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). According to Ruth Padawer from the New York Times, Semenya was forced to undergo relentless examination by gender experts to determine whether or not she was woman enough to compete as one. While the IAAF has never released the results of their testing, that did not stop the media from making irreverent speculations about the athlete's gender.
Moments after winning the Berlin World Athletics Championship in 2009, Semenya was faced with immediate backlash from fellow runners. Elisa Cusma who suffered a whopping defeat after finishing in sixth place, felt as though Semenya was too masculine to compete in a women's race. Cusma stated, "These kind of people should not run with us. For me, she is not a woman. She's a man." While her statement proved insensitive enough, her perspective was acknowledged and appeared to be a mutually belief among the other white female competitors.
Fast forward to 2018, the IAAF issued new Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development) that apply to events from 400m to the mile, including 400m hurdles races, 800m, and 1500m. The regulations created by the IAAF state that an athlete must be recognized at law as either female or intersex, she must reduce her testosterone level to below 5 nmol/L continuously for the duration of six months, and she must maintain her testosterone levels to remain below 5 nmol/L during and after competing so long as she wishes to be eligible to compete in any future events. It is believed that these new rules have been put into effect to specifically target Semenya given her history of being the most recent athlete to face this sort of discrimination.
With these regulations put into effect, in combination with the lack of information about whether or not Semenya is biologically a female of male, society has seemed to come to the conclusion that Semenya is intersex, meaning she was born with any variation of characteristics, chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. After her initial testing, there had been alleged leaks to media outlets such as Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper which stated that Semenya's results proved that her testosterone levels were too high. This information, while not credible, has been widely accepted as fact. Whether or not Semenya is intersex, society appears to be missing the point that no one is entitled to this information. Running off their newfound acceptance that the Olympic champion is intersex, it calls into question whether her elevated levels of testosterone makes her a man.
The IAAF published a study concluding that higher levels of testosterone do, in fact, contribute to the level of performance in track and field. However, higher testosterone levels have never been the sole determining factor for sex or gender. There are conditions that affect women, such as PCOS, in which the ovaries produce extra amounts of testosterone. However, those women never have their womanhood called into question, nor should they—and neither should Semenya.
Every aspect of the issue surrounding Semenya's body has been deplorable, to say the least. However, there has not been enough recognition as to how invasive and degrading sex testing actually is. For any woman, at any age, to have her body forcibly examined and studied like a science project by "experts" is humiliating and unethical. Under no circumstances have Semenya's health or well-being been considered upon discovering that her body allegedly produces an excessive amount of testosterone. For the sake of an organization, for the comfort of white female athletes who felt as though Semenya's gender was an unfair advantage against them, Semenya and other women like her, must undergo hormone treatment to reduce their performance to that of which women are expected to perform at. Yet some women within the athletic community are unphased by this direct attempt to further prove women as inferior athletes.
As difficult as this global invasion of privacy has been for the athlete, the humiliation and sense of violation is felt by her people in South Africa. Writer and activist, Kari, reported that Semenya has had the country's undying support since her first global appearance in 2009. Even after the IAAF released their new regulations, South Africans have refuted their accusations. Kari stated, "The Minister of Sports and Recreation and the Africa National Congress, South Africa's ruling party labeled the decision as anti-sport, racist, and homophobic." It is no secret that the build and appearance of Black women have always been met with racist and sexist commentary. Because Black women have never managed to fit into the European standard of beauty catered to and in favor of white women, the accusations of Semenya appearing too masculine were unsurprising.
Despite the countless injustices Semenya has faced over the years, she remains as determined as ever to return to track and field and compete amongst women as the woman she is. Her fight against the IAAF's regulations continues as the Olympic champion has been receiving and outpour of support in wake of the Association's decision. Semenya is determined to run again, win again, and set new and inclusive standards for women's sports.