Luis Sequeira is the Oscar-nominated costume designer behind such films as Mama, The Shape of Water, Nightmare Alley and more. Below, he shares with A.frame five films whose costume design and storytelling influenced his career.
"I'm a filmgoer like anyone else. I may be part of the industry, but I love to see other people's interpretations," he says. "One learns from everything. I often say that if I think I know everything, even being in this industry for 36 years, I need to get out and I need to go do something else. I really enjoy the creative process—and it's not selective only to my own. I love to see other people's creative processes. Watching how they approach something is incredible."
For me, Blade Runner was completely otherworldly, not only on a design level. [Costume designer] Michael Kaplan was amazing by mixing period with future. Also, the performances, the visual effects, the story … It's a movie that still looks pretty damn fine, being past its due date, so to speak. [The film is set in 2019.] It still resonates with me as being one of those pure design movies that transcends its period. Very often, you will have a movie that's done in the '80s, and it has an '80s flair, or done in the '70s and it has a certain flair. You can do Cleopatra in the '50s, you can do Cleopatra in the '90s, but this movie really had its own style, its own world.
[As a kid,] I took Portuguese classes after school, and instead, I would just go to the cinema. I would sneak out of school a period early, and I would go see a couple of movies and then come home at the allotted time. That's how much I loved movies. With Blade Runner, I skipped school and would watch it repeatedly in the theater, sneaking into another theater to get back in to see it again. I was quite fascinated by it.
It has a timeless, beautiful design. Not straight out of the box, not formulaic. [Costumer] Milena Canonero is an incredible designer and has been an inspiration to me.
Twelve Monkeys, again, for me, was pure design. An out-of-the-box approach to design—brave design. Different from Blade Runner, different from The Hunger, but to me it represents the wild side of design. Julie Weiss is a colleague of mine. I'm a fan of hers and have worked with her on a number of occasions. Julie is a bold designer. She makes very bold decisions and brings to the table things from left field that obviously still represent character and world-building. It is ethereal and comes together from a multitude of areas. I think that freedom in design is something I strive to have more of.
When [Bruce Willis' character] goes into the future, the outfit that he puts on is almost deranged. It's not a complete space suit, it's something taped together. Many designers would've made a very pretty, aesthetically pleasing costume. Julie really goes for character, and it's a brave choice. Very often you need a brave director to go down that road.
Timeless storytelling, transcending the period, with beautiful aesthetics. [Anna Hill Johnstone’s] costuming supports the story, the costuming stands on its own. Even years later … It is a period movie, but it is beautiful to look at.
Save the Tiger is a left-field movie. I'd seen this movie when it came out, but I forgot about it. Then, when I did a movie set in the '70s and was looking through some research, I saw this movie and I was blown away. It is a timeless representation of 1973, and it is a fashion movie. It's about the owner of a fashion line, played by Jack Lemmon, and the trials and tribulations of his situation. Everything about it was remarkably aesthetically pleasing and elegant. It proved to me that you can do film in whatever period.