This year's winner of the Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award, Anthony Powell has delighted audiences all over the world with his costumes for opera, theatre and film. Like Leonardo Da Vinci, he has also leant his artistic talents to creating lavish balls and parties for European high society, and receptions for royals.
Still, that experience did not prepare him for the sort of out-of-control spending Hollywood can go in for. His was the only department to come in on budget on the film Ishtar. But, he laughs, “The props department had gone over budget and Columbia Studios just shoved it all on to my department so I got no credit at all!” Industry peers give him a lot of credit, and so far a total of three Oscars, (see the Centerline Q&A with Powell, page 6) and one Tony (for John Gielgud's School for Scandal.)
When designing for Broadway shows like Sunset Boulevard, the new West End revival of Anything Goes, or films like Death on the Nile and 101 Dalmations (with Glenn Close, whom he also dressed as Norma Desmond) Powell works the old fashioned way, without a computer. “I'm a total technophobe,” he says. “I'm the only person in the world who doesn't have a mobile phone or even a microwave oven.” He may call himself a dinosaur, but it seems to us he is doing something right.