22 July 2024 The Irish Film & Television Network
IFTA Q&A Series: Louise Stanton on Costume Design
04 Apr 2024 : Luke Shanahan
Louise Stanton
To mark the 21st anniversary of the IFTA awards, we are showcasing Irish talent who are blazing a trail across our industry, working in front of and behind the camera.

Hosted in association with IFTA, this Q&A Series connects with Irish talent who represent a range of disciplines across our industry.

We find out about their approach to craft, working on the projects they’ve been nominated for, and the best piece of advice they’ve been given in their career.

Louise Stanton is nominated for Best Costume Design for That They May Face The Rising Sun. Stanton's previous credits as a costume designer include Michael Inside, Song of Granite, and The Dry. She has previously been IFTA-nominated for Best Costume Design for An Cailín Ciúin and Rosie.

IFTN: How has your approach to the work evolved since you began in the industry and what have you learned?

LOUISE: “The beginning of my career I started out as a wardrobe trainee. Over time, with patience, practice, observation and gathering lots of experience, I’ve developed problem solving skills, learned to think outside the box, gained time management skills, and an understanding of how to meet the deadline.”

IFTN: How do you collaborate with the director and other HODs to ensure that the costumes complement the overall vision of the production?

LOUISE: “No two projects have ever been the same and that’s what’s so lovely about the process. Like a detective, I delve into a script looking for the clues of what, where and who. Exploring the social and economic circumstances of the piece, and so many other questions.”

“I have a notebook where I keep track of any ideas or thoughts, maybe a sketch or two, colour palette, texture, tone, noting all development ideas. This is why I would consider myself a visual storyteller. Collated image references, materials, fabrics and key pieces I find all help to develop the conversation with the director and other HODs so we can come together and find that cohesiveness.”

IFTN: In this project, how did you go about reflecting the personalities of the characters in the costume design?

LOUISE: “In That They May Face The Rising Sun, character study is everything; late 1970s Ireland, a remote community living by the lake, and their interactions with one another. All of these interesting individuals, each having a story to tell and somehow managing with the tool of costume, subliminally delivering each of their stories, helping to interpret the great John McGahern's wonderful work was a true honour to create.”

IFTN: How do you source and select materials for costumes, and what factors do you consider when choosing fabrics and other materials?

LOUISE: “Without a doubt, I knew I wanted some key pieces to be handmade. The knits, so important.”

“We even see at one point hand knitting in a kitchen scene. This was not only a pastime but a necessary by-product of the livestock that was essential to their livelihood. Every single piece was considered and always meaningful.”

IFTN: Were there any unique creative challenges that this project presented, and if so, how did you overcome these challenges?

LOUISE: “There were challenges for sure. We were based in a beautiful remote part of the world, so everything had to be thought of in advance and brought to our unit base. I had to make sure I had a plethora of options for every member of the cast and for all our extras. I didn't have access to the actors until only a few days beforehand.”

“I knew I had a very slim window the day before a key character was to be filmed. Due to other work commitments, he was only able to see me late on the previous day of the shoot. I had discussed the look with Pat the director in advance and in detail. We were happy, I was confident all would be good, however, when it came to the fitting, not that the measurements were incorrect, the look just did not land quite right.”

“There and then I did a 180° and managed to pull together the bones of the perfect look. I assured the artist that it would be finished and ready for the first scene to be shot on the next day. A lot of ageing, that well lived in look, had to be applied to help bring the character to life. Finishing late, I put the full costume on the tailored stand and it was so worth it, seeing the actor's reaction and excitement when he stepped into the room and saw what was achieved.”

“Covid gave our small department a further couple of challenges also. Another last minute cast switch was required because of the virus and the wonderful, invaluable Christina Byrne, assistant/standby and my right hand woman for this production, unfortunately got hit the day before we started filming our biggest crowd days. An SOS went out to the costume community and dailies were sourced. The work got done and all well, thank goodness.”

IFTN: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given in your career?

LOUISE: “Listen, trust in your instinct, and be kind.”

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