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The Hogwarts Express > The Movies > Judianna Makovsky, Costume Design


Judianna Makovsky

Costume designer Judianna Makovsky, who has been called upon numerous times in her career to recreate bygone or fantastic eras, again faced the challenge to mingle the world of wizards with the realm of the private British boarding school.

A native of New Jersey, USA, Makovsky also is a stage and opera costume designer. Her first film credit was for Gardens of Stone, staring James Caan, a Vietnam War-era drama about the Army staff in charge of maintaining Arlington National Cemetery. Next was Big, Tom Hanks' first Academy Award nominated role.

Several TV projects followed, including Miss Rose White, set in the 1940s, and Wild Palms, a cult series about a man who discovers a conspiracy for mind control.

Among her movies in the 1990s were Reversal of Fortune (Glenn Close, Jeremy Irons); Gloria and The Specialist with Sharon Stone; Six Degrees of Separation (Will Smith); and The Ref (Denis Leary).

Makovsky had been very busy leading up to The Sorcerer's Stone, with A Little Princess, The Devil's Advocate, Practical Magic, For Love of the Game, and Pleasantville. This 1998 fantasy, with Tobey Maguire, was set in a fictional 1950s TV sitcom world and brought Makovsky her first Academy Award nomination. She also won a Best Costume Design award from the Costume Designers Guild for Pleasantville.

In 2002, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gave her a second Oscar nomination for The Sorcerer's Stone. The Costume Designers Guild also nominated her for the same honor for the Harry Potter film.

Before The Sorcerer's Stone, she did the costume design for The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000) with Matt Damon and Will Smith. Stuart Craig, Sorcerer's Stone production designer, also worked on Bagger Vance.

Makovsky has a bachelor of fine arts degree from the Art Institute of Chicago and attended the master's of fine arts program at Yale University School of Drama. Her stage work included the Yale Repertory Company and the Philadelphia Opera Company.

Makovsky consulted with J.K. Rowling as she crafted the costumes for The Sorcerer's Stone. She found the author an excellent consultant in selection of proper colors and cloth to use in the actors' outfits.

"The look was almost instinctive," Makovsky told The Sunday Times of London. "I had two meetings with Jo Rowling, and we didn't discuss clothing. We talked about the characters and who they were, we talked about color and atmosphere. Everything related to the world of Harry Potter is in her mind. There are creations in there we don't even know about yet. I only had to show her a fabric or a shape, and she'd say instantly if it was right or wrong."
Chris Columbus and Judianna Makovsky
Makovksy and Columbus consult on Sorcerer's Stone costumes during filming at Leavesden Studios.

She decided combine the black student robes of the book with British boarding school style uniforms that might have appeared on campuses in the mid-20th century. Their everyday "street clothes" are from about the same era, even though the story is set in contemporary times (early 21st century cars can be scene on Privet Drive). The robes themselves are based on Renaissance paintings.

For the Hogwarts faculty, Makovsky remained in a purple, green and black color palette. Velvet fabrics were custom silkscreened and appliqued to create unique sorcerer outfits. Makovsky dressed Alan Rickman (Snape) in a black, Victorian-style suit that buttoned to his neck and tail on the coat that resembles a snake's forked tongue. Dumbledore (Richard Harris), in contrast, resembles the Renaissance era of about 1400-1600.

While Nearly Headless Nick (John Cleese) died in 1492, Makovsky chose to give him an Elizabethan look that would have been in fashion in the early 1600s.

She and her assistants also went through "hundreds" hat designs to find ones that had "a soft silhouette which looked natural rather than comic," she told The Times.

Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) also was a challenge to costume. In the book, his overcoat is "moleskin," made out of fur from the small burrowing animals. Coltrane appears to wear a fur coat in the movie, but animal activists should not worry: it's all fake. Makovsky and her team even went so far as to shave the phony pelts, adding animal head, tail and leg flank shapes. These pretend pelts were then stitched together to make the coat.

Below is a gallery of Makovsky's costume work for previous movies. (For Sorcerer's Stone costuming, please go to the Movie Stills pages, starting with page 1, where you can see the actors in their assorted outfits.)

Location: Savannah, Georgia USA
Timeframe: 1917-18 and 1928-30
Comment: Makovsky recreated the look of American Southerners before World War I, and just before and at the beginning of the Great Depression. Among the costumes were formal wear, golfing outfits and everyday street clothes.
Will Smith, J. Michael Moncrief, Matt Damon
Charlize Theron

Location: Massachusetts, USA
Timeframe: 1990s
Comment: Makovsky had to dress the Owens women, an extended family of modern-day witches struggling with a curse that causes death to any man who loves them. Makovsky envisioned clothing that free-spirited, unique, magic practitioners would have chosen.

Dianne Wiest

Stockard Channing

Nicole Kidman

Location: Small Town USA, TV Land
Timeframe: Late 1950s
Comment: This movie represented a career high for Makovsky, as she received an Oscar nomination for Best Costume Design and was honored for excellence by her fellow costume designers. Two teens are zapped into a 1950s TV sitcom by a magic remote control. The costumes are small-town America and are slightly exaggerated 1950s outfits on purpose to reflect that this is a perfect TV world, not the real one.
Joan Allen and Reese Witherspoon
Jeff Daniels and Tobey Maguire

GLORIA (1998)
Location: New York, New York, USA
Timeframe: 1990s
Comment: This was the second time Makovsky designed outfits for Sharon Stone. The first time was for The Specialist, with Sylvester Stallone. In this movie, Stone is a gangster's ex-girlfriend trying to protect a little boy who is the only witness to the murders of his family.

Stone and Jean-Luke Figeroa

Location: New York, New York USA
Timeframe: 1910s
Comment: Period movie based on the book by Frances Hodgson Burnett about a little girl thrown into poverty at a girls' boarding school after her father is apparently killed during World War I. Costumes ranged from wealthy children and school administrators to working class people on the bustling streets of New York.
Liesel Matthews

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