In an interview with Anime News Network, costume designer of the latest live action Cowboy Bebop release, Jane Holland, talks of her career as well as the fashion of this latest project as a whole.
When asked how she first got into costume design as well as the ups and downs of her career, Holland said, "I studied English and Drama alongside a science degree at university and found my way to a film set through drama. Having grown up making things and drawing, as soon as I saw what was going on behind the scenes, I knew it was the place for me. Costume is the synthesis of my interests – storytelling, character, identity along with innovation and precision in craft. Jane Campion's The Piano was pivotal. As Costume Standby (Key Costumer), it really opened my eyes to the power of design in character and story. From there I went to the Australian Film Television and Radio School to study design. I've gravitated towards projects requiring original design, world-building and manufacture and have had the good fortune to work on a wide diversity of projects in scale and scope. To do good work, you have to connect – I'm invested. The creative process and moment a character comes together is fulfilling on every project. So many highlights and I'm always learning. I just worked with my partner and kids on a local low-budget Maori supernatural drama – magic. I love cultural specificity and the experience of working in an authentic way. Technical challenges are always fun – like an army on horseback wearing intricate armor that has to be light and flexible and glint like metal in the moonlight. Anthony Hopkins transforming into Burt Munroe before me [in The World's Fastest Indian] is a moment I treasure. Cowboy Bebop, for sure is a highlight – it's not like anything I've seen before. The ‘downs’... I guess I carry frustration about the recognition of the Costume Department. We are a highly trained and qualified department and represent the lived-in diversity of what many productions these days aspire to be on screen. There is still work to do behind the scenes in terms of pay parity, value, and visibility. As a woman I am generally a minority, and sometimes the only one at the decision-making table during production. I always thought the film industry was progressive because of the stories we tell and collaborative way of working, but when you start to agitate for change in pay, and highlight the difficulty marginalized people have speaking up, you realize that it's no different to any other power structure. Finally things are starting to shift, but we're not there yet."
When asked how Cowboy Bebop has been different from past projects, Holland said, "Every project is challenging for different reasons – and I wouldn't have it any other way. Challenge is an agitation that pushes the creative somewhere unexpected. The relentlessness of a series is always grueling. In a film, you have crazy busy times and lulls when you can take a breath. A series like Cowboy Bebop is a high-speed train. With a high content of original design, and every background costume put together, the stamina and energy to keep going and constantly generate fresh ideas is considerable. At the same time, the momentum is energizing and the scope and scale inspiring. I've designed projects based on books or graphic novels, but have discovered anime is different because the characters are ‘live’ – moving and dimensional. While the anime means that fans may hold my choices to account and scrutiny, the legacy is something extraordinary to be entrusted with and I'm excited that the fanbase is engaged. I always look for an authentic way to work, and for opportunities to push the creative boundaries. Having such refreshingly unique material as a springboard has been freeing rather than restrictive and enabled layers and depth."
Holland was then asked which piece for the film was the most difficult to make, to which she said, "All signature costumes have to work hard over the course of a season so there's a lot to consider and a lot of problem solving. Jet's arm is probably the most challenging single costume item with many individually sculpted and articulated moulded pieces under pressure from constant use. The hand particularly required maintenance. It's the kind of thing that you need to test drive to problem solve, but things happen so quickly on a series, and there are so many multiples, you have to be preemptive and try to think of everything upfront."
Information originally sourced from Anime News Network.