Anthony Powell, the three-time Oscar-winning costume designer known for helping shape the looks of Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones and Glenn Close as Cruella de Vil, has died. He was 85.
The Costume Designers Guild confirmed Powell’s death on Monday night on Facebook, writing: “Legendary English costume designer Anthony Powell passed away last weekend. He will be celebrated in a small, private gathering due to COVID restrictions and is survived by two nieces.” According to a Facebook post from fellow designer Scott Traugott, Powell died on Friday evening.
Powell’s Academy Awards came for “Travels with My Aunt” (1972), “Death on the Nile” (1978) and “Tess” (1979). He was nominated for Steven Spielberg’s “Hook” and “102 Dalmatians.”
He worked with top directors of the 1970s and ’80s including Spielberg, Roman Polanski, George Cukor and William Friedkin.
Born in Manchester, U.K. Powell was a graduate of the Central School of Art and Design in London. His first credit was for the British series, “Festival” in 1964. He started working on features several years later, with his first credit as costumer designer on Irving Lerner’s Peru-set epic “The Royal Hunt of the Sun” and followed with “Papillon” and Robert Altman’s “Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull’s History Lesson.”
Powell won his first Academy Award in 1972 for his work on George Cukor’s “Travels with My Aunt.” In 1978, Powell won his second for “Death on the Nile.” But it was his work on Polanski’s “Tess” a year later that garnered attention as he picked earthy tones and pastels for the film’s stars Nastassja Kinski, Peter Firth, and Leigh Lawson. It was also the beginning of their collaborative relationship as the two continued to work together, later on “Frantic,” “Pirates” and “The Ninth Gate.” His other credits include “Ishtar” and the 1998 “The Avengers.”
Working on both “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” and “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” he further refined Harrison Ford’s iconic fedora design from “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and helped conceive the glamorous fantasy musical scene.
Powell was also a major costume designer for Broadway, winning a Tony Award for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical “Sunset Boulevard” starring Glenn Close. He created memorable looks for Close including the red gown lined with ostrich feathers and the famous black and cream cotton moleskin cape for Disney villain Cruella de Vil in the live action “101 Dalmatians.”
Powell’s most recent credit was on the 2006 film, “Miss Potter” starring Renee Zellweger as the famous author Beatrix Potter, where he dressed her in Edwardian attire: shirtwaists, high collars and hats.
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