Costume Designer Jany Temime admits that she is “completely crazy about Judy Garland,” so when she learned about the film covering the latter years of the iconic performer’s life, she really wanted to work on it.
“I liked the idea of Renée [Zellweger] playing Judy. I also liked the period at the end of her life, a very special moment when she was so fragile. I liked the conjunction of all those things. It was not a documentary about Judy Garland. It was a slice of her life.”
For the performance sequences there were historical references to draw upon. The director wanted specific costumes for specific songs, so Temime pulled links of everything that she could, then made a selection of the outfits that were the most representative of every song.
Because Garland was a performer, she knew she had to make a bold impression on the audience, so her wardrobe included loud patterns and strong colors, such as red.
“That’s actually what we did first, because for me, it was the backbone of the story. I presented lots of costumes that I thought were character specific of Judy Garland towards the end of her life when she had to perform,” shared Temime.
“I chose very sparkling, colorful outfits because I wanted to show that what she was wearing when she was performing was a sort of armor towards the public. In the performing dresses, she was dressed up. I kept that idea for the film because I thought it was good to give her performing outfits where she would be brilliant in bright colors and then in her private life, something more fragile and discrete in softer colors.”
Garland’s devotion to her children stood out in the film. And as any working mom knows, there was a conflict between the time spent working and the guilt of not spending enough time with her children.
The fact that this was all happening in the early 1960’s – when a mom was supposed to be married and staying at home with the children – magnified the conflict.
“That was very heavily put upon her to be the perfect wife, the perfect mom. And she was anything but that. She had to struggle and fight” noted Temime. “I also wanted to show that when she was with the kids, she was looking like a mom, not like a movie star.”
As a period piece, Temime was deeply involved in all the wardrobe choices for the film. Because much of the film takes place during the “swinging sixties in London,” a time that was extremely important for costumes, Temime wanted to show the styles of the era.
When Garland got married to a younger man and wanted to look younger, she started dressing “like a teenager,” commented Temime. “I thought that the period was extremely important for her personality, but also for the film. I took very special care about extras and everything about her.”
Temime worked with Zellweger on costume details that helped the actress embody the character, such as the scarves Garland wore to protect her throat in order to save her voice.
“There is a very famous picture that I tried to reproduce. She is in a dressing gown and has a red scarf around her neck,” revealed Temime. The patterns for the costumes were cut in a way that Zellweger could stand with rounded shoulders and a heavy back, capturing Judy’s mental state at the time.
Temime was inspired to make the wedding dress the closest to reality. The designer felt that dress represented Garland grasping at a last chance at happiness.
“I thought it was so pathetic, I could not have invented something better because it was so perfect, and so sad, and so sweet at the same time,” explained Temime.
It was fun to dress the character of Mickey Deans (Finn Wittrock) in 1968 Carnaby Street fashion – the colors, shirts and long scarf. The secretary (Jessie Buckley) was a bit conservative, so she was dressed a bit conservative, but using the original fabric of the period. A lot of vintage clothing was bought, but for all the clothing that was constructed, 90% original fabric was used.
Because the budget was tight and the shoot was short, too many “repeats”– multiple copies of the same costumes – were not needed, so Temime could get by with less yardage. It made it easier for her to find sufficient quantities of the vintage materials.
“That helped me a lot to create the original look,” Temime revealed. She also believed the tight budget pulled the cast and crew together, built strong relationships between departments, and made the whole process more creative.