Costume designer Sandy Powell will be awarded a Fellowship at the EE BAFTA Film Awards, taking place on 19 February. It is the highest accolade bestowed by BAFTA upon an individual in recognition of an outstanding and exceptional contribution to film, games or television. Sandy Powell is the first costume designer to be awarded the BAFTA Fellowship.
Sandy Powell is one of the world’s most revered costume designers. Her visual masterpieces span three-and-a-half decades of some of the most iconic films of the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries and have garnered multiple awards. Her extensive body of work spans period films from The Favourite and Shakespeare in Love to fantasy productions including Mary Poppins Returns and Cinderella, to Wolf of Wall Street, The Irishman and Velvet Goldmine.
She will work closely with the arts charity over the coming year to inspire and nurture aspiring costume designers through BAFTA’s year-round learning, inclusion and talent programmes. Costume Design has been an awards category since 1963, and is represented across numerous BAFTA initiatives and its public programme.
The Fellowship will be presented to Sandy Powell as part of a special commemoration of her prolific and influential work to-date during the ceremony. The awards will take place at the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall.
Sandy Powell, said: “I am hugely flattered to receive the BAFTA Fellowship and especially proud to be the first Costume Designer. I am lucky in that I love what I do and have been extremely fortunate to have collaborated with some of the most talented and inspirational people in the industry both behind and in front of the camera. I look forward to many more years to come.”
Jane Millichip, CEO, said: “Sandy Powell is not only a great designer, she is a great storyteller. Her costumes are mesmerising in their beauty, but they also interpret narrative brilliantly and provide the infrastructure for character. For more than three decades, Sandy has raised awareness for the craft of costume design in film and provided a spotlight for designers in the act of filmmaking. We look forward to honouring Sandy’s work this month at our EE BAFTA Film Awards and to working with her over the next year to inspire the next generation of costume designers and storytellers.”
Powell was born in Brixton, London and was taught to sew by her mother. She drew pictures of clothes, designed and made outfits for her dolls and started making her own clothes from a young age. She studied at London’s Central School of Art and Design and began her career working for fringe theatre companies along with the legendary dancer/choreographer Lindsay Kemp before meeting filmmaker and mentor, the late Derek Jarman. The following year was spent working on music videos before designing costumes for Jarman’s 1986 film Caravaggio.
It was period drama Orlando, directed by Sally Potter, which led to Powell’s first BAFTA and Academy Award® nominations for Best Costume Design. Powell then began a collaboration with director Neil Jordan which would produce a total of five films including The Crying Game, Interview with the Vampire and Michael Collins. She went on to receive a double nomination at the BAFTAs for her two 1998 films, Todd Haynes’ Velvet Goldmine and John Madden’s Shakespeare in Love. The former won Powell the first of three BAFTA Awards for Best Costume Design – having been nominated five times at this point – and the latter the first of three Academy Awards®, firmly cementing her at the very forefront of her craft.
Many of the world’s most esteemed filmmakers have turned to Powell repeatedly to bring their script to life through costume, including Martin Scorsese for his 2002 epic Gangs of New York, – which has led to a further six collaborations – including her second Academy Award® win for The Aviator. In 2009 Powell collaborated with Jean-Marc Vallée on The Young Victoria, winning her second BAFTA and third Academy Award®. In 2010, Powell was given the Costume Designers Guild Career Achievement Award, and in 2020 she was awarded the London Film Critics’ Circle Dilys Powell Award for Excellence in Film. In 2011, she was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her services to the film industry. As well as her collaborations with directors, Powell continued to work closely with some of the biggest names in the acting world, bringing to life the characters played by the likes of Tilda Swinton, Cate Blanchett, Ralph Fiennes, Julianne Moore, Janelle Monáe, Leonardo DiCaprio, Olivia Colman , Colin Firth and Bill Nighy.
Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite earned Powell her third BAFTA win and contributed to her third dual nominations at the BAFTAs and Academy Awards® alongside Rob Marshall’s Mary Poppins Returns, making her the most nominated costume designer in Academy Awards® history after Edith Head. To-date, Sandy Powell has been nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Costume Design 15 times and received 15 nominations for the Academy Award® for Best Costume Design for notable films including The Irishman, Carol, Cinderella, Hugo, Mrs. Henderson Presents, The End of the Affair, and The Wings of the Dove.
Most recently Powell’s credits include Oliver Hermanus’ Living and Marc Webb’s Snow White, which is currently in post-production.
Fellows previously honoured for their work in film include Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Sean Connery, Elizabeth Taylor, Stanley Kubrick, Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Olivier, Judi Dench, Vanessa Redgrave, Christopher Lee, Martin Scorsese, Alan Parker, Helen Mirren, Mike Leigh, Sidney Poitier, Mel Brooks, Sir Ridley Scott, Thelma Schoonmaker and Kathleen Kennedy. Ang Lee received the Fellowship at the Film Awards in 2021.
The EE BAFTA Film Awards will be hosted on-stage by award-winning actor, presenter and author Richard E. Grant, with presenter Alison Hammond hosting a new BAFTA Studio – to give viewers at home an Access-All-Areas experience of one of the biggest nights in film. Film critic Ali Plumb and presenter Vick Hope will host the red carpet pre show on @BAFTA. For the first time, the ceremony will reveal the final four category winners live on the show, enabling audiences at home to be part of the excitement as it happens.