Anne Dixon, LCF graduate, talks about her work on the new NETFLIX series 'Anne with an E' and her fascinating journey as a costume designer.
Hello! Tell us a bit about yourself, Anne. What are you up to at the moment?
I’ve just finished designing the Netflix series “Anne with an E.” The series delves into the visceral, gritty real world of [the novel] Anne of Green Gables, set around 1895 in Prince Edward Islands, eastern Canada.
Can you describe what's been like to be part of such an ambitious production?
The journey with Moira Walley-Beckett, the creator and writer of the series, was stupendous! Its been completely invigorating to be part of the creative team and collaborate in exploring an epic but intimate, gritty, visceral world set in the Maritimes before the turn of the twentieth century. I designed tableaux of colours and textures, making sure we got the pulse of the island [right]; from the farmers, to the fishermen and the schoolyards. We formed silhouettes, then built intricate and complex characters. From hand-knits, to cottons, leathers, straw, furs and felts – everything was dyed, over-dyed, painted and broken-down. Very energizing!
What made you decide to come to London College of Fashion? What did you study?
A few moons past I was taking a night class in pattern drafting and learnt about LCF from my teacher. I was intrigued and took the Art & Design Diploma.
What are your strongest impressions from your time as a student?
I strongly remember the hands on and symbiotic flow of creativity from your surroundings. But also the incredible resources the College offered & the accessibility to the pulse of the industry.
How did you move into costume design?
I love art, I love textiles, I love costumes, I love to imagine, I love research, I love to create – Costume Designing was the perfect world to encompass all my passions. I worked in the costume shop in theatres in a variety of areas then started to design plays and kept exploring and expanding into film, television, dance, skating and operas.
What's a typical working day for you?
No day is ever the same as a Costume Designer – you are like a travelling gypsy! Your environments, your worlds – which you are exploring, inventing and designing are constantly different and moving. The vibrancy of the people you collaborate with are forever varied and greatly differ.
What’s been the most rewarding project you’ve worked on? You’ve worked with actors including Rachel McAdams, Gary Oldman, Mary Tyler Moore, Juliette Lewis and on everything from Civil War epics, to RomComs, to professional ice-skating and contemporary dance. It must be hard to whittle it down!
I love to keep expanding my horizons, to keep exploring. Each project brings something so unique; from street ghettos to tutus, 18th century gowns to stuntman exploding or a double salchow on the ice! I am rewarded greatly with the passion I infuse in every project and the worlds I discover.
What would you say has been the biggest highlight of your career to date?
Its unbelievable magic to see an actor transform in front of your eyes and shed him or herself and become one with the character. Completely magical. I designed [the production] 'Margie Gillis: Wild Hearts in Strange Times'. One of the pieces, “The Heaven I Cannot See,” with Margie Gillis and Paola Styron dancing together with Jessye Norman singing. The vibration of Jessye's voice, together with the dancing bodies moving in complete synergy, the costumes floating in the air with the breath... The moment was transformed into something ethereal – into a heavenly place! Oh my, it still gives me goose pimples!
Can you name any take-aways from your studies that still resonate with you today?
The incredible experience instilled in you to absorb your environment and synthesize it in your art form.
Are you in touch with any of your alma mater?
I am enjoying participating in the Canadian UAL Alumni events – it’s a joy to open up the possibilities to another generation!
What advice would you give someone who wants to get into costume design today?
I would advise anyone wanting to be a costume designer – Explore, Be Passionate, Absorb and Live the MOMENT!! Your destined path will create itself!!
Any closing words?
In my journey as a costume designer, I have travelled many worlds and am still hungry to explore many more!