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July 17, 2014

Half of a Yellow Sun's Urbane Outfitter

Costume Designer Jo Katsaras Brings the Vibrant Style of 1960s Nigeria to the Big Screen

“I stumbled across 6,000 1960s pieces that had never been worn and still had their price tags about 18 months before I landed the script,” notes Jo Katsaras, the Emmy-nominated costume designer responsible for the richly-hued wardrobe seen in today’s clip, taken from the film adaptation of Half of a Yellow Sun. “I bought the entire lot, trusting that this was not an accidental find.” Presented with a starry leading cast, including a pixie-haired Thandie Newton, and Chiwetel Ejiofor, fresh from the success of 12 Years a Slave, Katsaras’s ensembles play an integral role in director Biyi Bandele's story of socio-political turmoil in 1960s Nigeria (first told in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s award-winning 2007 novel of the same name). “Thandie’s style developed with her journey, circumstances and life choices,” says the South Africa-based costumier, who brought a discerning eye to a wardrobe as epic in scale as the tale, which ranges from the glamorous echelons of Lagos high society to the bedraggled ravages of civil war. “Creating a character for me is about taking everything into account: social status, personality, location, education, moral fiber and, of course, political and cultural influences,” adds Katsaras, whose other credits include HBO’s The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and Mary and Martha. “A costume shouldn’t look like a costume, it should look like something that is part of someone’s wardrobe.”

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Shorts on Sundays: Atelier Persol Part Two

The Second Half of Chiara Clemente’s Look at Persol Eyewear’s Groundbreaking Artist-in-Residence Project

In the second installment of Chiara Clemente’s Atelier Persol documentary, the New York-based filmmaker captures the work in progress of eight artists during their weeklong retreat in Florence, Italy. Sebastian Tellier, Kolkoz, Vanina Sorrenti, Robert Montgomery, Futura, Fabio Novembre, Random International and Mathilde Monnier, present a series of site-specific rooms inspired by themes including ‘Touch,’ ‘Harmony’ and ‘Precision.’ “We flew to Italy from New York straight after Hurricane Sandy,” says Clemente. “It was a shock to land in Florence with the beautiful views of the Palazzo.” The director’s work often focuses on creative beginnings and the early memories of Kolkoz, the Parisian art duo of Samuel Boutruche and Benjamin Moreau helped shape the symbiotic, multi-camera film they created at Atelier Persol. “When we rented our first studio in Marseille we ended up playing video games every day, paralyzed in front of our screens,” says Boutruche. “This moment may seem disconnected with art creation but computer software has had a huge impact on our vision. It’s an unsetting but interesting way of recording and perceiving the world.”

View part one here.

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Deborah Turbeville’s Night Cry

A Vision of Mexico’s Day of the Dead from the Late Pioneer of Brooding Photography

A crowd clambers across ghostly ruins in the town of Mineral de Pozos, Guanajauto, Mexico, in Night Cry, today’s haunting film from the late New York fashion photographer, Deborah Turbeville. Steeped in religious iconography, Turbeville envisions her guilty protagonist’s final moments. “I hear people talk about John Ford having a particular place to shoot—Monument Valley in Utah. This was Deborah’s, a location characteristic of her sentiment, mood, and the way she worked,” says cinematographer Marcin Stawarz who first met Turbeville at the dilapidated mining town during Valentino’s Spring-Summer 2012 campaign. The influential image-maker, who recently passed away at 81, started her career as a fit model for friend and designer Claire McCardell, before going on to become Fashion Editor of Harper’s Bazaar in the early 1960s and realizing her passion for photography, shooting for Vogue and W magazine. Turbeville was dubbed the anti-Helmut Newton for her melancholic fashion imagery. “She was always searching for a certain strangeness,” says Stawarz of Turbeville’s approach. “This ruinous architecture reminded her of Roberto Rossellini’s work. Referencing [his 1950 film] The Flowers of St. Francis, she was very much amazed at the way he used architecture in film. She talked about him a lot when we were working.”

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