Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Costume Designer Julie Harris R.I.P.

Costume designer Julie Harris, who worked on such films as Swiss Family Robinson (1960), A Hard Day's Night (1964), Help! (1965), and Darling (1965), died on May 30 2015 at the age of 94.

Julie Harris was born on March 26 1921 in London. She attended the Chelsea School of Art. She started her career at Gainsborough Pictures. The first film upon which she worked was Holiday Camp (1947). In the late Forties she worked on such films as Broken Journey (1948), Good-Time Girl (1948), Quartet (1948), The Lost People (1949), and Trio (1950).

The Fifties saw Miss Harris continue to work steadily. In the Fifties she worked on such films as Another Man's Poison (1951), Made in Heaven (1952), South of Algiers (1953), You Know What Sailors Are (1954), Cast a Dark Shadow (1955), It's a Wonderful World (1956), The Story of Esther Costello (1957), Sapphire (1959). and Swiss Family Robinson (1960).

The Sixties marked the height of Julie Harris's career, the period when she worked on what were probably her most famous films. She worked on The Beatles' films A Hard Day's Night and Help!. She won the Oscar for Best Costume Design, Black-and-White for Darling, and she won the BAFTA Award for Best British Costume (Colour) for The Wrong Box (1966). She was nominated for BAFTA Awards for Psyche 59 (1964) and Help! (1965). She also worked on such films as The Greengage Summer (1961), All Night Long (1962), The Chalk Garden (1964), Carry on Cleo (1964), Casino Royale (1967), Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969), and The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970).

In the Seventies Miss Harris was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Costume Design for The Slipper and the Rose: The Story of Cinderella (1976) . She also worked on such notable films as Frenzy (1972), Live and Let Die (1973), Rollerball (1975), The Land That Time Forgot (1975), and Dracula (1979).

Julie Harris's last feature film was The Great Muppet Caper (1981). Afterwards she worked in television on such productions as The Hound of the Baskervilles (1983), The Sign of Four (1983). and A Hazard of Hearts (1987), as well as the mini-series The Perfect Hero in 1991.

Julie Harris was simply an incredible costume designer. There can be little doubt that she was largely responsible for the way we view Swinging London today. It is not simply a case that she designed the costumes for both A Hard Day's Night and Help!, but she also designed costumes for such films set in Swinging London as Darling and Casino Royale (1967) as well.

While Julie Harris will forever be linked to Swinging London, however, she did notable work on many other films as well. In fact, her talent as a costume designer seemed to be to create the perfect designs for the mood and milieu of any particular film. She created some great designs for period pieces, as born out by The Wrong Box and The Slipper and the Rose. At the same time she could create convincing costumes for the futuristic Rollerball. Her costumes for Cast a Dark Shadow were perfect for a film that could almost be considered British film noir. She was even created some of the best designs ever for a Bond film, Live and Let Die. Julie Harris was extremely versatile and talented as a costume designer. It is little wonder that she won awards for her work. She really should have won more.

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