CDG - The Costume Designer

Fall 2018

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78 The Costume Designer Fall 2018 SCRAPBOOK In the feature, The Man Who Fell to Earth, the singular David Bowie stars as an alien that crash lands on Earth, then searches for water to bring back to his drought-forsaken planet. Based on the 1963 novel of the same name by Walter Tevis, it was May Routh's first film as a Costume Designer. Routh recalls her lead as cheeky, funny, and a wonderful collaborator. "With Costume Design, so much of it is negotiating and diplomacy. What was extraordinary about David Bowie was that he worked with me and even made suggestions. So, I thought it was normal for an actor to stand for two hours as I fit him. I was internally grateful, but presumed he was just doing it because it was always a team effort, instead of realizing that he was unique—so much of it has to do with temperament." Routh constructed slender suits of soft silks as weightless as her star. The elegance of the resulting silhouettes befit Bowie's beguiling androgyny. This illustration is Routh's representation of the pads worn beneath his clothes to protect him in the event of a fall. The Academy of Motion Pictures acquired the original for $4,000 and it now resides in their archive. The actual costume was a collage of assembled parts from a corset Routh bought in New Mexico to medical boots suggested by the propmaster. She remarks, "If you put anything on him, it looked marvelous, I was constantly thrilled with looking at him." The evocative images have stood the test of time. May Routh

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