Irish women in film: Consolata Boyle, costume designer |

Irish women in film: Consolata Boyle, costume designer |

Photography by Doreen Kilfeather.

Suits are much more than the fabrics and cuts we see on screen. Not only are they essential to the telling of the story, but they play an important role in the whole process of fully immersing the actors in this world they must inhabit in order to truly embrace their characters.

“The power of costume to enhance or distort a performance is incredible,” says Consolata Boyle, multiple Oscar-nominated costume designer. “You have to nail every point and nuance. Costumes convey so much information in a silent way.

After studying history and archeology at UCD, Boyle trained in set and costume design at the Abbey Theater and did a postgraduate in textiles at West Surrey College of Art and Design. But it was in the early 1980s that she moved from designing costumes for theater to film – an interesting trajectory that would influence her approach to this unique art form. “I firmly believe that the more experience you can bring to the table, the better – anything can and helps.”

Her CV is as impressive as it gets: she’s been nominated for an Academy Award three times, for her work on The Queen, Florence Foster Jenkinsand Victoria and Abdul; and she helped bring so many other iconic characters to life, including Margaret Thatcher in The iron womanMarie Curie in Radioactiveand the fiery younger sister of 19th century detective Sherlock in Enola Holmeswhich Consolata revisited last year for the sequel, which is due out in 2022.

“I was lucky enough to be involved in stories and films about women. Whether I love women or despise them, whether I question them or love them, all of them have been completely fascinating to study. Enola is a young woman from a very protected environment and thrown into the world, in search of herself and her own way of doing things. What I love is being given the opportunity to tell stories or a new version of a story – a different perspective. Margaret Thatcher, who was the absolute opposite of everything I would stand for politically and socially, was a fascinating character to unravel. I am also proud to have participated in Se, written by and performed by Clare Dunne. They are all so incredibly different and it is an exciting prospect to dive into each of these worlds. I hope there will be many more women I investigate.

His advice to those looking to enter this industry is simple: “You need to be emotionally and physically strong, and have a sharp sense of humor. It’s incredibly rewarding, but it’s tough. Most of my career has been spent traveling.

With such a busy schedule, Consolata admits home downtime in Wicklow is all the more valuable. “The luxury of being home is the most wonderful thing and I tend to ‘lift the drawbridge’, sleep and spend time with my family. I rarely go home during filming abroad, due to the intensity of the work, but you balance all this with the joy of working with great directors and writers and the whole team in the creation of a film , which is such a powerful medium. ”

Photography by Doreen Kilfeather. Photographed at 12 Henrietta Street, Dublin. This article originally appeared in the spring issue of IMAGE magazine.


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