18 April 2024 The Irish Film & Television Network

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Making the Cut

Making The Cut: Costume Designer Kathy Strachan on her career
07 Aug 2016 : Seán Brosnan
Strachan has worked on the 80's set political drama 'Charlie' starring Aiden Gillen and Tom Vaughn Lawlor
After working on two of the most watched television shows of the past six months in Ireland – ‘Charlie’ and ‘Damo and Ivor’ – Kathy Strachan talks to IFTN about her extremely diverse work on both shows.

An IFTA winner for the 2003 film ‘Spin The Bottle, Strachan’s impressive CV includes the Oscar-winning short film ‘Six Shooter’, popular RTÉ medical procedural ‘The Clinic’, television film ‘Showbands’ and the 2014 comedy drama ‘Run & Jump’. She has also just completed work on the new four part series ‘Clean Break’, which will be broadcast on RTÉ later this year which is produced by Octagon Films and 152 Productions.

In the political drama ‘Charlie’ – starring Aiden Gillen and Tom Vaughn Lawlor, Strachan was tasked with designing the costumes of the Irish political elite of the 1980’s while in the slapstick comedy ‘Damo and Ivor’ – created by and starring Andrew Quirke – she had to design more contemporary yet outlandish costumes of both sides of the socio-economic divide.

IFTN: Tell us about your work on ‘Charlie’ and ‘Damo and Ivor’.

Kathy Strachan: ‘Two very different shows, but the aim remains the same, finding the character in the costume.

What training/education did you receive to become a costume designer?

‘I studied Theatre Design at Central St.Martins in London.’

What was your first job in the industry?

‘When I left college I went to the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow. My training there prepared me for everything that's been thrown at me so far.’

What do you enjoy most about being a costume designer?

‘I love getting a chance to design from the cloth up but the happy finds can set the design cogs whirring too.’

Describe your typical working day and the equipment you use.

‘Reading, researching and finding images. Shopping, drawing , talking cloth and budgets in prep. Early start in a dark muddy field when we are filming.’

What filmmaker/costume designer has influenced you?

‘Milena Canonero (three time Oscar winner for ‘Barry Lyndon’, ‘Chariots of Fire’ and Marie Antoinette’ – nominated again this year for ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’) has a fantastic breadth of work.’

What Irish film or TV show would you have loved to have worked on?

‘That’s a bit of a narrow question!’

What films and TV shows did you enjoy growing up that may have encouraged you to work in the industry?

‘I thought I was going to be a sculptor growing up so I didn't think of TV shows or films in that way.’

What’s the difference between working on an Irish production and working on an international production for you?

‘The language! The working practices are pretty much the same, we are a global unit.’

What advice would you give to anyone wishing to get into costume design?

‘Get a portfolio together, it’s important to see how the eyes work.’

IFTA Q&A Series: Joanne O’Brien on Costume Design
IFTA Q&A Series: Eleanor Bowman on Cinematography
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