Anthony Powell (designer)

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Anthony Powell
Born (1935-06-02) 2 June 1935 (age 79)
Chorlton-cum-Hardy, England
Nationality English
Education Dublin, Ireland
Occupation Fashion designer
Awards Academy Award, BAFTA Award, Tony Award, César Award

Anthony Powell (born 2 June 1935, Chorlton-cum-Hardy,[1] Manchester, England) is an English costume designer for stage and screen. He has won three Academy Awards, for Travels with My Aunt (1972), Death on the Nile (1978) and Tess (1979). He has worked with directors such as George Cukor, Roman Polanski, Steven Spielberg, Robert Altman and David Lean. Among the stars who have worn his creations are Paul Newman, Bette Davis, Warren Beatty, Steve McQueen, Sean Connery, Dustin Hoffman, Roger Moore, Maggie Smith, Harrison Ford and Johnny Depp.

Powell is a cousin of the costume designer, Sandy Powell.


Raised in Yorkshire and Dublin, Powell began his professional career as a teenager touring with his handmade marionettes. While serving as a wireless operator in the military, he mistakenly lead the British Army of the Occupation in Germany into the Russian zone. After graduating from the Central School of Art and Design in London, he was apprenticed as an assistant to designers including Oliver Messel and Cecil Beaton.[citation needed]

Simultaneously, Powell served as a lecturer at his alma mater. His costume designs for John Gielgud's production of The School for Scandal (1963) earned him a Tony Award, and he also received a second nomination for his scenic design. He was consulted as a designer fashioning men's sportwear during the, as well as working as a design consultant for hotels and restaurants. He assisted in the restoration and renovation of Sutton Place, Guildford during the 1960s and 1970s

Powell made his first Hollywood connection with director Irving Lerner who chose him to design the costumes for The Royal Hunt of the Sun (1969), which required styling both the Spanish conquistadors as well as the native Americans. His first Oscar came for his outlandish designs for Maggie Smith's Augusta in George Cukor's Travels with My Aunt (1972). Powell returned to Broadway as set designer for a revival of Noël Coward's Private Lives, starring Maggie Smith.

The Academy honored him with back-to-back Oscars for his glamorous '30s designs for Death on the Nile (1978), particularly the women's outfits worn in the film by such actresses as Mia Farrow, Angela Lansbury, Bette Davis and Maggie Smith, and his 19th Century attire for Tess (1979). The latter began a long term collaboration with director Roman Polanski that included the lavish Pirates (1986) and the contemporary Frantic (1988). Additionally, Powell created the costumes and sets for the French stage production of Amadeus, in which Polanski starred as well as directed.

Powell also forged a collaboration with director Steven Spielberg, creating the period-appropriate costumes for both Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989). Powell had spent the better part of two years working closely with David Lean on the director's film project of Nostromo; however the project was halted due to Lean's death. Marlon Brando, Paul Scofield, Peter O'Toole, Isabella Rossellini, Christopher Lambert, and Dennis Quaid had all been set to star in this adaptation. In 1991, he designed the fantastic clothing for Hook, some of which recalled his earlier work for Pirates.

Returning to the stage, his lavish and luxuriant costumes for Norma Desmond in Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Sunset Boulevard (1993 in London; 1994 in the USA), based on the movie directed by Billy Wilder, earned him another Tony Award. Glenn Close headed the American production and Powell got to create the over-the-top costumes for her Cruella DeVil in the live action remake of 101 Dalmatians (1996), and its sequel 102 Dalmatians (2000); for which he received another Best Costume Design Academy Award nomination. He also reinterpreted '60s mod fashions for the film version of The Avengers (1998).

In 2004 Anthony Powell designed the costumes for Richard Strauss's opera Capriccio for the Paris Opera at the Palais Garnier, starring Renée Fleming, and directed by Robert Carsen. He collaborated again with Robert Carsen in 2010 for the costumes of My Fair Lady starring Alex Jennings and Margaret Tyzack at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. This production also travelled to the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg where it was the first musical comedy ever to be presented on that stage. This production was revived again in Paris in 2012.

List of Credits[edit]

Year Film Notes
1964 Festival (TV series) – "The Comedy of Errors"
1969 The Royal Hunt of the Sun
1972 Travels with My Aunt Won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design
1973 Papillon
1975 That Lucky Touch
1976 Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson
1977 Sorcerer
1978 Death on the Nile (costumes designed by) Won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design
Won the BAFTA for Best Costume Design
1979 Tess Won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design
Nominated for the BAFTA for Best Costume Design
1981 Priest of Love
1982 Evil Under the Sun
1984 Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Nominated Saturn Award for Best Costume Design
1986 Pirates Won César Award for Best Costume Design
Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Costume Design
1987 Ishtar
1988 Frantic
1989 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Nomiated Saturn Award for Best Costume Design
1991 Hook Nominated Academy Award for Best Costume Design
1996 101 Dalmatians
1998 The Avengers
1999 The Ninth Gate
2000 102 Dalmatians Nominated Academy Award for Best Costume Design
2004 Capriccio (Opera)
2006 Miss Potter



  1. ^ Anthony Powell, What's in a name?, letter, The Times, 3rd Dec 2008, page 33

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