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Julie Harris, Costume Designer (RIP)

One of the oldest costume designers passed away this weekend. Julie Harris, not to be confused with the legendary stage and screen actress of the same name, died in London at the age of 94. Though she was well loved at the BAFTAs with five nominations and a win, she only had one brush with Oscar. But if you only get one shot, make it a zeitgeist moment.

And boy did she. She designed the mod classic, John Schlesginger's Darling (1965) which won her, Julie Christie, and the screenwriter golden statues 50 years ago, in a year otherwise Oscar-dominated by a certain other Julie in an Oscar winning musical. Harris had quite a streak in the 1960s. It didn't get much hipper then than designing for the original Bond girl (Ursula Andress in Casino Royale), Julie Christie (Darling!) and The Beatles themselves (A Hard Day's Night, Help!). About the Fab Four, Harris famous quipped

I must be one of the few people who can claim they have seen John, Paul, George and Ringo naked.

Other famous films included The Swiss Family Robinson (1960), The Chalk Garden (1964), Goodbye Mr Chips (1969), Rollerball (1975), The Slipper and the Rose (1976) and Dracula (1979). She retired from the cinema at the age of 60 with an unusual assignment - The Great Muppet Caper (1981). 

costume sketches for Alfred Hitchcock's FRENZYJulie Christie & Dirk Bogarde on location for DARLING

Have you ever seen Darling? We keep meaning to write about it for the blog but have never quite done so.

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Reader Comments (11)

I have. Content from the 60's has the most immediate watch and re-watch value of golden era Hollywood. I like both Christie and the movie.

May 31, 2015 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

Quite an impressive list of credits, I looked her up and besides her 60's accomplishments she also worked on films with Jayne Mansfield, The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw (a pleasing little comedy and one of Jayne's last decent films) and Joan Crawford, The Story of Esther Costello, among many others.The tales she must of had to tell!!

Darling is wonderful, firmly rooted in its time and place but with terrific acting by Dirk Bogarde and especially Julie Christie-though I've loved other of her work more. Would love to read your thoughts on it. It really does have something to say about the cult of celebrity.

May 31, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

Darling is one of my favorite films of the 60s, and Julie is otherworldly in it. The costumes just speak so specifically to that girl.

I always think of the 1965 Best Costume Design categories as the "How fabulously did they dress Julie Christie" categories with those wins for both Darling and Doctor Zhivago.

May 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDrew C

I would love to read your thoughts on Darling as well, Nate ... for I had quite the opposite reaction to the film. While mod couture certainly holds up (agreed that JC has never looked better), I didn't find that mod ethos does. Granted, that may be mostly thanks to the moralistic/fatalistic "see what your freewheeling sexual encounters get you" ending. But even throughout the film, I couldn't bring myself to root for Diana; she just seemed so ... petty.

I invite disagreement! Please tell me what I'm missing, everyone.

But thank you for this post on the other Julie Harris! What a fantastic talent, and I feel bad not knowing who she was now.

May 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJames

I haven't seen Darling - must do one of these days. It's such a British classic.

Meanwhile, The Great Muppet Caper: what a film! And it means Julie Harris could add Miss Piggy to the roster of female icons she designed for!

May 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

Goodbye Mr Chips is one of my all time favourite movies though I also haven't seen Darling so will definately get onto that very soon. I love a British classic that has somehow evaded me until the time I finally get round to seeing it, it's very special.

May 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLiza Lou

Darling is a great movie, Christie at her best indeed. Although Diana Scott is probably the only best actress oscar winning character that no one synpathizes for.

May 31, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterfadhil

I'm struggling to explain my reactions. Somehow there's a difference between the (unfortunate) likeable/unlikeable issue and whether the audience roots for a character. I'm firmly team Mavis Gary For All Awards Ever -- while she's not likeable I was/am definitely rooting for her, fascinated by her journey. Diana just didn't capture me the same way, but I'm not sure why. It's not lack of performance as Julie Christie was working her tail off. Maybe that the character herself was unsure herself in what she wanted? I'm spitballing here.

June 1, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJames

the Academy actually dared give out Best Actress Oscars to unlikable female characters in the 60s.

Darling, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, The Lion in Winter, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,

June 1, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterYavor

I love Darling, one of my favorite movies ever. It is so daring (for its time), and Julie Christie is just fabulous. Wasn't it the first mainstream film to feature, non apologetically, an openly gay character?

June 1, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

I love, love Darling and I think it is Julie Christie's finest hour, certainly her finest year with the great actressing in Darling and the amazing iconic looks from Dr. Zhivago.

There really aren't a lot of anti-heroines as the leads in a movie. I mean you have a few gargoyle types (101 Dalmations), and a lot who get softened (Maleficent), but it's rare to follow someone who never really repents and doesn't become a different person.

Plus the whole movie is beyond swell to look at.

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