EFA master class with Paco Delgado

Narration through clothing

Paco Delgado is an internationally recognized Canarian costume designer. For his work in this field he received two nominations for the Oscars, as well as for the BAFTAs: the first for Les Misérables in 2013, and the second for The Danish Girl this year. He also won the European Film Award for costume design in Blancanieves in 2013. He has collaborated with directors such as Pedro Almódovar, Alejandro González Iñárritu, M.Night Shyamalan and Tom Hooper. Co-organizer of master class with Paco Delgado is the European Film Academy (EFA)

"Costume design is a compromise. It's a four-way process between the actors, the director, the audience and me."  



Paco Delgado was born as Francisco Delgado López in Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain. In one of his interviews he admitted he had never dreamed of being a costume designer. He studied set design and costume design at the Institut del Teatre in Barcelona. After his studies, he started to design theatre sets. However, because of budget constraints he also started to do costumes and this became a turning point in his career.

"I wanted to be a set designer for theatre mainly, but as it so happens in life your destiny is almost always different than what you think it’s going to be. People used to say that my costumes were not very interesting and little by little I began doing more costumes and less sets. When I jumped into the cinema world, I just started doing costumes."



One of his first important film projects was the collaborations on Bad Education with Pedro Almódovar in 2004. "He knows what he wants…not all directors know what they want and it’s hard to imagine what they have in their heads, but Pedro knew. It was challenging but reassuring that the work is going to be good because we were following his vision." Delgado collaborated with Almódovar for the second time on The Skin I Live In in 2011. 



In 2012, Delgado worked on two very different films – black and white silent fantasy film Blancanvienes and the star-studded epic drama based on the musical Les Misérables which is in turn based on the French classic novel by Victor Hugo. The former is based on a twist on the Snow White fairy tale combining two recent film trends: the updating of classic fairy tales and the rediscovery of silent film. This film brought Delgado a European Film Award and a Goya Award for Best Costume Design. 



The latter was one of the biggest projects he worked on "My God, this is such a huge job." That was Paco Delgado's first reaction when Tom Hooper called him to see if he would be the lead costume designer for this movie. 

"This is a musical that has been around for over 25 years. I wanted to do it justice and give the musical a level of respect it deserves while also adding my own creative touch. The first thing I did was read Victor Hugo’s piece to get a sense of how these characters lived. I also studied historical paintings set in the Romantic Period, including Goya. After I felt immersed in that time, I started sketching and looking for fabrics that would fit with my designs. " 

For Les Miserables Delgado had to create more than 2,200 costumes covering a time period that spanned much of the first half of the 19th century. For this difficult work he earned his first Oscar nomination. The second nomination came this year for his second collaboration with Tom Hooper – The Danish Girl

"We refer to the authentic period costumes but it was very difficult for us to put—especially Eddie—in real outfits of the time because, especially in Europe, women in the '20s were really, really small—well, in general, everyone was very, very small. I guess in the last 20 or 30 years, in most of Europe, the diets and everything have changed so substantially, the population has grown in height and dimension. It was very difficult to find real garments, especially for Eddie, and we made, I would say, 90-95% of Eddie's wardrobe. The thing we did because it was difficult to find the fabrics that look like the '20s, we bought a lot of antique dresses and we made them. We take them apart and use parts of the dress as fabrics to make new dresses. "


The clothes Delgado created for this film had to help sensitively portray a man beginning to understand his gender identity as a woman. "In this special story, costumes provide a visual side to the world if you want to change your gender because also costumes are attached to gender and you can see how the costumes can have different reactions from people." Delgado said that he is a real advocate of costumes and clothes. He thinks that "we have to be aware of how important clothes are because while they have a functional side, obviously they are good for us when we are cold or they are good for us when we need to be protected, but also clothes reflect our psychology, our state-of-mind, and our social status." 

EFA Master Classes are courses on continuous training. They are held by highly acclaimed and internationally successful filmmakers who dedicate intensive training to young talents coming from all over Europe, passing on their individual knowledge and personal experience.
Rather than bare lecturing, the courses concentrate on the practical side of learning with at least half of the time spent with hands-on training.