A Lanzarote lad will once again walk up the the red carpet to the Academy Awards ceremony on February 28th following Arrecife-born designer Paco Delgado’s second Oscar nomination in the Costume Design category.
Paco Delgado is the only Spaniard to be nominated for an Academy Award this year, and received his Oscar nod for his work on The Danish Girl, a critically acclaimed British film that was released in mid-January.
Paco was also nominated for his stunning costumes for Les Miserables in 2013, but lost out on the night to the sweeping Russian drama Anna Karenina. And while The Danish Girl’s 1920’s bohemian settings and cross- dressing themes have given Paco a chance to shine, he also faces stiff competition this year: other nominees in the Costume Design category include the designers for the stunning 40s drama Carol and the incredibly inventive Mad Max: Fury Road.
Paco Delgado was born and grew up in Arrecife, but left the island in 1982 to study in Madrid. Surprisingly, his chosen subject was Physics – his family considered that the sciences offered the best future. He did well and achieved good marks, but after three years he decided not to continue and, although he had no experience in theatre, he applied to the Theatre Institute in Barcelona. “Sometimes, instinct leads you,“ he told El País in 2013.
After graduating, Delgado moved to London, where he worked in set design for the next 12 years. When friends told him that they were particularly impressed by the costumes he used in the small plays he helped put on, he decided to specialise.
He returned to Madrid, where he opened a vintage clothes shop in the arty, bohemian barrio of Malasaña and, in 1999 the acclaimed Spanish director Alex de Iglesia contracted him as costume designer for his film comedy La Comunidad.
“One of the advantages of this job is that people can see your achievements,” he told El País. His mother had been unhappy when he abandoned science for theatre, but Delgado says “When La Comunidad came out they showed it in Arrecife and, obviously, that’s the sort of thing that makes mums relax a bit about the future of their sons.”
Since 200, Delgado has designed for a number of impressively dressed films. He remains the designer of choice for Alex de Iglesia, and has also been in charge of costumes for two Oscar-winner Pedro Almodovar’s visually stunning films. He has won the Spain ́s highest film award, the Goya, for his amazing costumes for the silent movie Snow White (2013) and The Witches of Zagarramundi (2014).
This is Huge!
Most foreign artists would find even a small job in Hollywood daunting, so when Paco Delgado received the call from Tom Hooper offering him the job of designing costumes for Les Miserables – a sweeping musical epic with a cast of hundreds set in 19th century Paris – his response was understandable: “My God, this is a huge job!”
However, Paco excelled in his first US film, assembling a 50-strong team to create a huge rnage of costumes ranging from beggar-girls to noblemen. He went on to receive BAFTA and Oscar nominations for his work on the film – not bad for a Hollywood newcomer!
The Danish Girl is a real-life story starring the talented British actor Eddie Redmayne and Swedish sensation Alicia Vikander. The young actors play the roles of a married couple of artists in 1920s Copenhagen, Einar and Gerda Wegener.
Gerda is a portrait artist, but when one of her female models fails to turn up she asks her husband Einar to stand in for her. As a result of this, Einar adopts a new, female identity as Lili Elbe and eventually undergoes one of the first sex-reassignment operations.
Paco Delgado and his team carried out intense research for the costumes for the film, drawing on influences ranging from Coco chanel to the russian designer Diaghilev.
He also had to adapt to various challenges. “People were really, really small in the 1920s” he told Harper’s Bazaar recently, “In most of Europe, the diets and everything have changed so substantially, the population has grown in height and dimension. It was very difficult to find real garments, especially for Eddie, and we made, I would say, 90-95% of Eddie’s wardrobe.”
Redmayne’s character also wears signature neckscarves in much of the film. Delgado explains that he chose this detail because “Eddie has an Adam ́s apple,” but the scarves also come to symbolize the link between Lili and Gerda and eventually come to represent freedom.
“I think clothes are such an important thing.“ said Delgado. “Yes they are frivolous, I think it’s wonderful that they are frivolous but at the same time they are really, really powerful social and political cues and we shouldn’t forget that.”