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HomeAwardsEmmy Contender-April Ferry-Costumes-Rome-HBO

Emmy Contender-April Ferry-Costumes-Rome-HBO

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Just as the city of Rome wasn’t built in a day, the cast of HBO’s Rome wasn’t dressed in a day.Costume designer April Ferry says the size of the production is half the challenge, with the other half being the need for authenticity.“I’ve done over 4,000 costumes and we’ve made everything from scratch,” she says from Italy, where the show is shooting its second season. “We dye almost everything, too.”Ferry says that process makes the show—a coproduction of HBO and the BBC—a dream come true for her. She describes herself as “obsessive” about ancient Rome. “It’s really, really, really fun,” she says. “I get to do things I’ve always wanted to do.”A lot of her work is about research, which is essential to creating an authentic look for the series. “I immersed myself in everything I could about ancient Rome,” she says. “We try to be as authentic as possible. We can’t do it all the way they did it, but we try.”That includes the ancient armor worn by Roman soldiers. “I have a marvelous metal worker and, at the very beginning, he made one helmet with his hands and a piece of brass and a hammer. I took it to India and had them make 350 copies,” she says. They also have authentic chain mail—each set of which weighs 36 pounds—and leatherworkers who mold the cuirasses.That research and effort is then applied to the characters and stories being told in the series. “They evolve into real people to us,” she says.Ferry has to dress everyone from street beggars to patricians. “The beggars on the street are kind of harder to do, and you do everything new and then it goes to the aging and dying department,” she says. “There’s a long process of making it look aged.”Putting authentic Roman clothes on real people requires a degree of finesse. “The women are the most challenging because, first of all, the Romans wore a lot of drapery and every time I put drapery on the women they go, ‘Oh, I look fat in that,’” she says.The upcoming season of the show sees significant changes, as Caesar’s assassination leaves young Octavian and a cast of new, younger characters running the empire. “These guys are adorable young actors, and it’s a whole new thing because last year it was all old men, all Shakespearean, experienced British actors,” she says. “Now we have young guys who are quite different and quite interesting.”2006: Won Costume Designers Guild Award for outstanding costume design for a period or fantasy television series for Rome; 1995: Nominated for an Oscar for best costume design on Maverick; 1989: Nominated for an Emmy for outstanding costume design for a miniseries or special for My Name is Bill W.

Written by Tom McLean

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