On Judy, costume designer Jany Temime sought to capture a duality that existed within Judy Garland—the strength and raw talent of an iconic American performer, as well as the weakness that manifested toward the end of her career.
“It’s not a nice, little Hollywood anecdote about Judy Garland. It’s the reason she became what she was in 1969,” Temime reflects. “How you can destroy a soul, just for the sake of making a star of it.”
Directed by Rupert Goold, the drama picks up with Garland (Renée Zellweger) in the winter of 1968, as she prepares for a series of concerts at London nightclub The Talk of The Town. Plagued by substance abuse issues and financial troubles in the final year of her life, Garland nonetheless sells out each show, going out not with a whimper, but a bang.
While Judy called for the recreation of the legend’s stage costumes from the period—each more dazzling than the last—Temime was challenged to produce these looks on a film with a very limited budget. “Every costume was like a miracle, because of the lack of money. For two months, I worked on my own, and with Renée and Rupert, very closely. I had no time to lose in things which were not essential,” the costume designer recalls. “For a film like Judy, it was very important to not lose yourself in details, and to go straight to what’s important. Every dress was designed and made with a purpose.”
While Temime worked much harder as a result of Judy‘s financial limitations, she also found that they resulted in a closer collaboration than she’s often experienced on set. “It was really a film of love, and I think you can see that. You feel the intimacy in the film, how close we were, and how we worked so well together,” she reflects.
Having worked with Zellweger once before, on the 2004 film Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, Temime relished the opportunity to reteam with the musically talented star. “Although I’ve been doing [costume design] for a very long time, I think it was the first time that I had such a close relationship with an actress,” the costume designer notes, “the feeling that we were creating that part together.”
DEADLINE: What excited you about Judy, when you first heard about the film?
JANY TEMIME: I wanted to do the film because I knew Renée. I love her as a person, and as an actress, and I knew the director, Rupert. He’s an amazing theater director, and the combination of them both seemed, to me, very exciting. Also, I’m a huge fan of Judy Garland, so there were all those elements, which made me call my agent on the spot and say, “I want to do that film.”
I went to see Rupert, and I was prepared like no one can be prepared. I had everything: layout, documentation, possibilities, sketches. I was very, very aggressive about it. Then, I went to see Renée, and it was like seeing an old friend after 10 years. We fell into each other’s arms and were ready to do the best film ever.
DEADLINE: What did you discuss with Goold when you first came on board?
TEMIME: It was very evident that this film was about Judy Garland in 1969, in her state of mind. He wanted to do a film about a woman who happened to be an actress—broken, and deciding to save her life by doing these concerts, but actually not in a physical condition to do that. He wanted to make a portrait of that psychologically dying actress. But also, he wanted to make a portrait of a woman with so much strength and power, and stage fever, that she could overcome all that and become the star that we know, even if it was for a few moments on stage. I think this is the character which interested Rupert: What was behind the idol that we know? What made her?
DEADLINE: What kind of prep did you go through to recreate Garland’s looks from 1969?
TEMIME: There’s lots of documentation, and what I did was to spend a lot of time understanding her style, understanding what she was wearing and why, and the huge knowledge that she had on stage costumes. She knew what worked because she was working with the biggest designers from [the time she was] seven years old. She knew how to use a costume. She was a show woman. But I sort of forgot that, and I was not dressing Judy Garland. I was dressing Renée playing Judy Garland, which was another research: What can I give Renée to become Judy Garland?
All the documentation that I had, I first showed to Rupert, and Rupert is a stage man, so he was very interested in what she was wearing for every song. That was, for him, the base of the character. She was expressing herself via song, so she had to be seen via the song, and what she was wearing for each one of those song interpretations was, for him, essential.
The private life of Judy was something I did much more closely with Renée. We created the wardrobe that she was having as a mom in her civilian time. I wanted to show that she was an American woman in England. For instance, I used a lot of trousers, because American women then were wearing trousers much more than European women. In the late ’60s, wearing trousers was very in, and that was something I wanted to show.
That’s why I used that suit to open the film. She is wearing the suit that she was actually wearing, when she was performing in The Talk of the Town, but I didn’t use that suit for the performance. I used that suit to open the film, because I wanted her to start strong. So, I had that suit, which is orange lamé and brocade, with a green shirt—sort of very aggressive—and then we feel that she’s just covering up. Behind, she’s completely broken. She’s in pieces. But I wanted to have her starting stronger, like maybe people were seeing her. After all, she’s a star. That’s how people see her, the first time they ever see her. Even if she’s going through all the problems she’s going through at that moment, she’s still wearing that very strong armor. So, that’s why we started in that orange suit.
DEADLINE: Could you elaborate on the thinking that guided your designs for Judy?
TEMIME: I always used the costumes in a sort of opposition. When she feels very bad, she’s wearing something very hot and very colorful, and when she feels good, she wears something quite normal. Like when she talks to the kids and all that, it’s a lot softer and more natural. It’s not theatrical. But when she’s with her husband, Mickey, I wanted her to be a typical example of the older woman who is marrying a younger guy, trying desperately to look younger, and almost ridiculous. I actually saw a picture of Judy Garland in that period, when she was with Mickey, and thought, “What are you wearing?” But I think it was because she was trying to look young, to be hip. Because he was always telling her, “You have to be hip.”
DEADLINE: What were you going for with Garland’s show looks? The fabrics were certainly very rich, and often featured floral patterns.
TEMIME: Rupert wanted things that you could see from the last row. For the first performance, I actually wanted another dress, which was more discreet and pink, but Rupert wanted to start very strong, with that black dress with the big flowers. He wanted to establish her on stage, [as] being the top show woman, especially because it’s not her who was choosing it. Somebody was dressing her. So, that was a show costume for the first performance.
For the rest, I kept on that theme. At the end, Renée wanted a little black dress, because she wanted to be a small, tiny silhouette in that big theater. I thought, “Renée, you really want to finish in black, in that tiny thing? You don’t want to finish grandiosely?” And she said, “No. I want to have a very tiny black silhouette, with black stockings.” Then, when I saw her performing the last song, “Over the Rainbow,” in that little black dress, I thought she had really been right about it. She’s a great actress and has this incredible instinct, and she knew already how she was going to sing it.
DEADLINE: How many costumes did you end up designing for the film?
TEMIME: Oh, a lot. Everything for [Zellweger] was made. Of course, I found some vintage that I used. Some trousers, the earrings, the couture scarf, they came from my mother, who passed away and left me all those [beautiful pieces] of the ’70s. That was all from my mom, and Renée loved wearing it, because it had a sense of history. It had a story behind it.
Then, I found amazing fabric at Angels, the costume house, and I made a deal with them. I built up a little workshop in Hungary, because there, it is cheaper. Then, I was sending this original fabric that I had found at Angeles there, and they were making me all the designs. I had designed some day dresses, evening dresses, and they were all made there, and were coming back. So, Angels was very happy, because they were giving me fabric, and I was giving them back clothes.
But at least my background was looking very fresh and very ’70s. I thought I could show the period more via the background, because Judy Garland, the way she dressed—beside the moment she’s on Carnaby Street—could be [like] 1960 or 1974. She’s sort of timeless, but I used the background to freeze [the film in] the period.
DEADLINE: Which costumes for Judy ended up being your favorites?
TEMIME: I love the orange suit a lot, because I think I could wear it myself. I love the red dress, and I also love the white suit that I did for her. With the big red scarf on the side, she looked liked a sad, little clown. I loved that very much. And of course, the pastel dress with the big flowers.
But it was impossible to steal anything, actually. [laughs] Because Renée adopted a very specific posture to play Judy Garland. She had a sort of round back and belly inside, like a sort of starved woman. All the suits were made with that posture, so nobody could wear them after that.
DEADLINE: You also recently designed costumes for 6 Underground and Marvel’s Black Widow. What can you tell us about the experience of working on these films, and what you have coming up next?
TEMIME: Now, I’m starting Red Notice, an action film with Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds. It was a different sort of film, but I think that for the costume designer, the challenge is very important every time.
Coming out of Judy and starting 6 Underground, it was a completely different thing, but actually for us, the research is the same. We get a script, and we have to create costumes to illustrate that script, and give a visual form to the characters of the film. That’s what we do. The characters are, of course, different, but they are still characters that you have to make alive.
I think that for a designer, at least for me, it’s very stimulating to change your style all the time. Because I think that if I would have done another ’70s film after [Judy], you’d get used to it. You sort of repeat yourself. But when you go from the ’70s to an action film, and then after that, doing a Marvel film, I keep on being very stimulated. By changing the world, I’m changing my way of working, and I go a lot deeper in the creative process.