Georgina Chapman on fashion, film, ‘Runway’
By JOHN CARUCCI
NEW YORK — Georgina Chapman studied costume design in college with the hope of one day seeing her creations in the movies. That dream took a slight turn when she launched the fashion label Marchesa in 2004 with partner Keren Craig. Now, their designs are frequently worn by actresses at red-carpet movie premieres and award ceremonies.
Chapman’s love of cinema was recently renewed when she made her directorial debut with “A Dream of Flying,” part of Canon’s Project Imagination. It put movie cameras in the hands of Chapman, Eva Longoria and Jamie Foxx to develop short films based on photographs.
Oscar-winning director Ron Howard was her mentor.
Chapman, though, never has to go far for advice: She’s married to movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.
Recently, the 37-year old Chapman spoke to The Associated Press about her busy life, which includes looking after her two young children, running a fashion label and doing the occasional stint on Lifetime’s “Project Runway: All Stars.”
AP: Early in your career, you did some acting. Did that help you in directing this film?
Chapman: I don’t think anything I did actually made me feel confident that I could direct. In fact, it made it all the more daunting because I really didn’t know what goes into a movie, and, you know, what the director is responsible for, which is just so overwhelming when I was thinking about it that actually I think it might have been a bit of (a) hindrance rather than help.
AP: What did you bring from fashion to film?
Chapman: I decided to approach it very much in the way that I would approach a collection. I started out with a mood board, which is how I do a collection, so I set it out scene by scene. … We did have the added advantage (of) … starting from a photograph. So, I did use those photographs and I used them for color reference, for lighting reference, for mood reference and then I built upon that. … I started to get color, I started to get a feel, I got emotion and lighting, so in that sense I approached it in a similar way.
AP: Was it challenging to balance your schedule to direct a film?
Chapman: My baby Dashiell was four weeks old when we started filming, so I literally had just given birth. I was filming ‘Project Runway’ at the time, and we had just finished the season, so I was working two days a week with that, and we had our resort collection, which was due three weeks after filming the movie, so it was an insane time but it was brilliant. I work better under pressure, and I find doing all these different things at once, your creative energy just is working tenfold.
AP: Did your husband help?
Chapman: You know, it was great to have Harvey, but this was really Ron Howard’s project, so I spoke with him more. But Harvey was fantastic, I mean, everything I asked him, he gave me great responses, but he really allowed me to fulfill my vision, and he was wonderful. He was just so supportive because, I imagine, I was probably a little bit neurotic.
AP: Why is the “Project Runway” franchise still going strong?
Chapman: It was one of the originals. It was one of the first out there of this kind of show and, you know, I think it has done very well. It is produced in an excellent way, it is directed very well, it’s got a great cast of people, and I think it’s relevant and I think people enjoy it.
AP: What do you get out of it?
Chapman: When I speak to these designers I am coming from a place where I want to help them, critique them but build them up. I am not there to put them down. I am there to help them see where I think perhaps they can better themselves.
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