DCN Exclusive Interview: Lindy Hemming – Costume Designer For Wonder Woman and Dark Knight Trilogy

by Steve J. Ray

Lindy Hemming first won the hearts of comics fans worldwide with her incredible work on Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight Trilogy” – Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises.

At the Costume Designers Guild Awards 2008, she won Best Costume Design in a Fantasy Film for The Dark Knight, and she also holds an Academy Award for Topsy-Turvy.

I recently attended the excellent press preview day for the UK’s biggest ever collection of comics art, and costumes: The DC Exhibition: Dawn Of Super Heroes. Lindy was there showcasing her beautiful art and designs for the movie Wonder Woman.

We sat down together and discussed her work on Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. You can read that interview on our sister site, Dark Knight News.

Now, I am extremely pleased to present the second half of our conversation. Here we talk warriors, armor, and amazons.

Lindy Hemming Interview – Part Two

DCN: How much exposure to, or knowledge of comics did you have prior to working with Christopher Nolan?

LH: Very little. It wasn’t a medium I had a great deal of knowledge about. Since then I have learned to appreciate it. Every film starts off with a word on a page. Every costume starts as a drawing on a piece of paper. It’s the same with comics. A flash of inspiration can lead to a creation that stands the test of time, and then, years or decades down the line, makes the transition to the silver screen.

DCN: Absolutely. This year will mark Superman’s 80th anniversary, next year Batman’s will follow. Wonder Woman will celebrate her 80th in just 3 years’ time. You brought her, her Amazon family, and history to the big-screen for the very first time in live-action. How did that compare to your previous work?

LH: It was great fun to make. Of course, it brought lots of challenges, due to the time period, and the very different locations, and locales.

DCN: Of course! There are scenes in the present, and on the streets of London, and the battlefields of Europe during World War One. Then there’s also the Paradise Island of Themyscira. What a rich tapestry!

LH: Yes indeed. I got to work with beautiful gowns, WWI uniforms, Wonder Woman’s more, shall we say reserved, formal wear? Plus the armor and battle gear of a whole society of warrior women.

DCN: I love all the different animal motifs you used. Each woman shared a similar design ethic, but still had their own unique feel and individuality. Was all of it based on Greek myth, and historical research?

LH: Thank you. Some of it goes back further still. There are stories of female warriors, and women in battle going back thousands of years! Nubia and Canaan, Ancient Egypt, the Assyrians, Celts, and even Ancient China of the 13th Century BC.

DCN: Fascinating. I love the way that they bear a resemblance to Diana’s “Superheroic” garb, but aren’t all identical.

LH: Yes. I had to build on and translate what Michael (Wilkinson – costume designer on Batman V Superman, who created Wonder Woman’s costume) had made.

Durability, Design And Practicality

DCN: The battle gear is amazing. In terms of materials used, and variety of style.

LH: Yes, I worked with leather armor, metal, plus the more conventional silks and cottons. On Wonder Woman it’s hard to think of a material we didn’t use! But of course, the over-riding factors were believability, freedom of movement, and comfort for the actors and stunt performers. Harder, less malleable versions for extreme close-ups, as well as softer, more flexible, and padded versions for battle scenes and action sequences. Some of those suits took a heck of a beating!

DCN: Are you allowed to tell us what you’ll be working on next?

LH: Working on already, I should say! Yes, I’m back with Patty Jenkins and we’ve started work on Wonder Woman II.

DCN: Yes! That’s fantastic news.

DCN: So, in closing. I’m sure that over the years you’ve been asked thousands of questions. But is there one question that you’ve always wished someone would ask you but no-one has? What is that question, and what’s the answer?

LH: (Lindy Laughs.) That’s cheating! You’re meant to be asking me the questions, I shouldn’t have to make up my own!

DCN: (I laugh too.) OK, then, Is there anything you’d like to say to my readers, and to the fans? About your work, or about this amazing exhibition?

LH: Yes. About this exhibition. I’ve already said that a story starts with a word, and a design starts with a drawing. A career, a dream, a passion, they can all start from an experience. I wasn’t always a designer, but seeing the work and artistry of people who were, brought me to where I am. Children, families… please come to this wonderful event. Perhaps a design, a picture on the wall, a costume, a sketch, a painting… something can spark your imagination. Then we will have a comics creator, an artist, a director, a designer of the future.

DCN: Now that’s how close an interview! Thank you, Lindy.

LH: Thank you, Steve.

Lindy Hemming, and the DC Exhibition

The event opened at the O2, in London yesterday, and runs until September 9th. It’s an incredible, fun day out for the whole family. Who knows? Maybe you’ll go, and see something that shapes your future, and inspires you, just like Lindy Hemming said

How cool would that be?

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