Monday, October 9, 2017

An Interview with Ane Crabtree, Costume Designer for Margaret Atwood's: The Handmaid's Tale

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Writing by Colleen Tsoukalas
Photos by Dianna Drahanchuk

Helen du Toit, Breaking Barriers Film Fund, CBC interviewed Ane at VIFF Oct. 4th, and the conversation was truly an example of strong, creative women, listeners and story tellers, bringing a whole audience around the stage and to watch the process of illustration to costume.

Ane talked about the influences on her life, her family background, American father, Japanese (Okinawa) mother and brother, whose clothes she wore as handmedowns. That her mother could sew exactly what Ane wanted, quickly and economically, gave her a foundation, enhanced by her Education in Art/Art History. She did attend the Fashion Institute of Technology but it was actually working at her craft that made her the go to for getting the drawings/patterns/flats into production.

Painting was a way to explore and express her love of color and music videos were a natural way for her to move from fashion to stage and movies. New York, Quentin Tarantino films, and Bill Cunningham are of major importance to her. Daniel Wilson, who directed the original film first, 1990 and Margaret Atwood, are "young and free" to her and are significant influences on her decision to dress the real women, she sees, meets and is inspired by in the world, far beyond the world of fashion.

Her love of color is in the robes and cloaks of the Handmaids, the red of blood, but a textured, layered, rich, deep shade, the color of maple leaves, too. Close to nature, terrible to be denied, imprisoned, controlled. The brown tones of their boots, all metal hidden, laces nonexistent, no comfort or pleasure in dressing up, choosing what to wear. Although she looks at other work, for style and time period contexts, she wants her work to be totally unique, to contain secrets, and to draw the spectator's eye further into the character and the story. She used men's fabrics to make Virginia Johnson's (Masters of Sex) suits, but added a gold hem on the jacket, and other features to highlight her femininity but also her individuality and voice. First fittings may take up to two and a half hours, as she must get it right.

She wore the perfect black dress, the black reflecting light and enfolding her. Great shoes, too, for moving through and with a reverent crowd. And, yes, we were invited to join her on the photo wall. I loved that she introduced Haida elder Sphenia Jones, Artist and Actor. Creatives, all.

The fabric remnants from The Handmaid's Tale, will go to people in need: children who need toys, street people who need quilts and, course, other projects. Ane hopes to make a documentary about this. We, volunteers My Sister's Closet, hope to learn more about this kind of recycling, upcycling, repurposing, sharing it and wearing. it.

So much more about Ane Crabtree, here: ---- Bravo Ane, Helen and VIFF!

Thanks to Dianna Drahanchuk for the photos!

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