Jane Campion's acclaimed film Bright Star, starring Abbie Cornish as poet John Keats's lover Fanny Brawne, is sure to be a contender in multiple Oscar categories when the nominations come out in a couple of weeks. We recently spoke with longtime Campion collaborator Janet Patterson, who served as both the film's costume designer and production designer, and who can take much of the credit for the film's pitch-perfect Regency atmosphere.
Can you tell us about the outfit that Fanny wears when she and John are caught in the rainstorm—the rose-colored dress and the dramatic white hat with the plaid ribbon?
I used the romantic Valentine's theme to select the fabric, and I thought it would be good if the fabric was a sheer linen that would would deteriorate in the rain. Well, it actually deteriorated a little too well and provided for some dramatic filming. But it worked well because the scene is about a moment of opportunity in their love affair and also a betrayal. There is an ambiguity there; Fanny looks fresh and beautiful, and then when it starts to rain, she looks like a wet rag.
Are you interested in runway fashion at all?
I watch. I notice. But, I'm not a player. I don't dress "in fashion" particularly. In fact, I don't! But I think Alber Elbaz is fantastic, and I love the Japanese and the Dutch designers too.
You've collaborated with Jane Campion for over 20 years. What is it like to work with her?
Jane is a friend and it's wonderful to work with her. Because we know each other so well you don't have to reinvent the wheel every time. So we get to travel a greater distance together and challenge each other. It's very gratifying.
Related: Read Diane Solway's interview with Jane Campion from the February issue HERE.
See our previous feature on Abbie Cornish HERE.