Thursday, April 8, 2010

Mario Davignon, Montréal based Costume Designer to the Stars

Recently, Nancy-Raven was telling me that she wondered how important Costume Designers got to where they are now. That is indeed, an excellent question for anyone interested in becoming a professional in the business. Well, it just so happens that my Mom found an article in L’Actualité about Iberville, Qc born and Montréal based Costume designer Mario Davignon, who has worked in the costume department of movies such as The Scarlet Letter (1995) and Romeo + Juliet (1996), TV series such as The Last Templar (2009) and The Pillars of the Earth (2009) and also created incredible outfits for Québec singer Diane Dufresne*.

*I guess you could equate that to Cher’s relationship with
Bob Mackie; but my comparison goes only as far as wearing crazy costumes goes. Musicaly, they are nothing alike.

Mr. Davignon, with a diploma in Theatre and Sewing started when he was Yvon Duhaime’s chauffeur, during the shooting of City on Fire (1979), staring Ava Gardner and Henry Fonda. When Duhaime died of a heart attack, Mr. Davignon was offered the job of Costume Designer (although from what I can find, he is credited as Assitant Costume Designer). Later when the Director of City on Fire, Alvin Rakoff, offered him the position again for his next movie, he asked to get an entry level job instead, to learn the profession the right way.

And so he went on to work in many different positions related to Costume department, from Extras Wardrobe Coordinator for
Ford: The Man and the Machine (1987), to Head Dresser for Black Robe (1991), working his way up to Costume designer.

His specialty? Historical costumes! As Irene Litinsky, producer of The Last Templar (2009) said, “He does not make costumes; he recreates eras”. And indeed, when at first Sergio Mimica-Gezzan, director of The Pillars of the Earth (2009) did not want his actors to wear wigs, Davignon told him the whole thing would look like a Halloween Party to the viewers who would see collarless tunics on short haired men. He won the argument: they all got wigs. Thank goodness for authenticity driven costume designers or else imagine the awful anachronisms we the costume loving viewers would have to endure!

His workshop, owned with two other friends – Renée and Fabienne April, F M R Costumes is set in Montréal, in Petite-Bourgogne. The three story building is full of dresses, shirts, pants, jackets, shoes, jewellery, etc. They rent costumes to local movie and tele producers.

You can read the article on the scan pages included in this post, or on
L’Actualité’s website: L’étoffe des héros.

Now THAT is my dream job. Do you think they might find a use for a Costumeholic (with a background in Fashion) such as me?

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