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Researching ‘Hollywood Sketchbook’: An Interview with Natasha Rubin (Part 2)

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If you enjoyed the brief look into  Hollywood Sketchbook: A Century of Costume Illustration from last week, you’re going to love “Part II” of my interview with Natasha Rubin, who contributed a fascinating essay to this book:

Heather Vaughan: Who was your favorite person to interview for this project?

Natasha Rubin: “Deborah interviewed the vast majority of the living illustrators for the book; I contacted some of the new guard (e.g. Oksana Nedavniaya, Phillip Boutte, Jr, and Christian Cordella) for quotes. All of the interviews are pretty compelling. Julie Weiss is great to listen to because she has so many wonderful stories, I mean, she worked with Bette Davis!

Sketch from "Shampoo" by Pauline Annon on Page 95: "Courtesy of the Designer," (Via Los Angeles Times)

The interview with designer Anthea Sylbert about working with her illustrator, Pauline Annon, was fascinating in many respects. She had worked with her for several years, but knew so little about her personal life. Pauline is still alive, but didn’t want to be interviewed; she’s a fine artist and the Hirshhorn Museum in DC has collected some of her work.”

HV: Was there one sketch that you wish you could have included that you could not?

NR: “We were able to include almost every sketch we wanted, except a few due to various reasons. In addition to museums and archives, we were lucky to have so many generous lenders including collectors, designers, illustrators, and also the cooperation of auctions houses such as Christie’s, Profiles In History, and Heritage Auctions.”

HV: How has yours and Deborah Landis’ affiliation with UCLA changed the scope of the research you’ve been doing?

NR: “The support of David Copley has given us the resources to cope with the extensive research demands that all of these projects require. UCLA has provided us with a space to work, an academic community, and of course the UCLA name acknowledges the Center’s credibility and lends prestige. It has also increased our visibility in the costume design community, both nationally and internationally. The Center is now a clearinghouse for information and personal stories about costume design history. Every day I field more requests and calls of interest; it’s very exciting!”

Professor Deborah Landis, Founding Director of the David C. Copley Center, Teri Schwartz, dean, UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, donor David C. Copley, and Nadja Swarovski, head of communications for the company founded by her grandfather.

HV: What can you tell me about how the David C. Copley Center for the Study of Costume Design at UCLA, and what it will be able to provide for interdisciplinary historians researching this subject? What sorts of materials and resources does it provide?

NR: “The David C. Copley Center for Costume Design is in the process of digital archiving, creating a visual database of film costume illustrations, first-person accounts, and scholarly research placing costume design in the center of a century of cinema storytelling. We also continue to offer opportunities to learn more about costume design for film through panels and lectures. We welcome questions from scholars and those interested in learning more about costume design history.”

Many many thanks to Natasha for being so generous with her time, and for providing many of the images in these two posts. To learn more about the history of  film costume illustration be sure to pick up a copy of Hollywood Sketchbook: A Century of Costume Illustration.

 

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