Tales Well Sewn: Costume Designer Consolata Boyle

Consolata Boyle
Consolata Boyle, credit Eilish McCormick

Tales Well Sewn: Costume Designer Consolata Boyle

27 February 2018
2 min read

You may not think that a degree in Archaeology and History could set one off on a three-time Oscar-nominated career, but that’s exactly the stellar professional trajectory that Irish costume designer Consolata Boyle has enjoyed.

Tasked with presenting audiences with that critical first impression of a character, Consolata’s exquisite work is renowned for weaving a textured, colourful visual storyline in tandem with a film’s written script. Providing hallmarks of characters’ personalities, values, emotions and social standing, Boyle’s sumptuous or gritty visual details have graced screens in lauded films such as The Queen, The Iron Lady, Into the West, The Snapper, Philomena, Angela’s Ashes and many more, since her 1982 start in the industry.

Speaking in 2016, the Dublin-based designer described her career in the film industry as "quite unexpected. I was working in theatre when I got the opportunity to work on a film, and I was fascinated by the art. I started doing very small films, then moved in to television and then in to bigger films. It was all a very natural progression and very organic, and I absolutely loved it".

“I was working in theatre when I got the opportunity to work on a film, and I was fascinated by the art. I started doing very small films, then moved in to television and then in to bigger films. It was all a very natural progression and very organic, and I absolutely loved it" - Consolata Boyle

Recently nominated for her third Academy Award, for Victoria & Abdul starring Judi Dench, after Boyle’s UCD graduate studies she trained at the prestigious Abbey Theatre before becoming Resident Designer at The Abbey’s experimental space, The Peacock. No stranger to industry and peer recognition, Boyle won an Emmy in 2004 for her work on The Lion in Winter, and was Oscar-nominated in 2007 and 2017 for Best Achievement in Costume Design for her work on The Queen and Florence Foster Jenkins, respectively.

Having worked with British director Stephen Frears no fewer than eight times (Philomena, Tamara Drewe, Chéri, The Queen, Mary Reilly, The Van, The Snapper and Florence Foster Jenkins), Boyle’s costume design has helped audiences get acquainted with all manner of characters – from reigning monarchs to true blue Dubliners, Belle Époque lovers and even tone-deaf amateur sopranos.

A beacon of craft and creativity and no doubt an inspiration to many Irish up and comers, Boyle’s 2018 Academy Award nomination for Best Costume Design sits alongside plenty more Irish-affiliated talent. Actors Saoirse Ronan and Daniel Day-Lewis, producer and writer Martin McDonagh and Kilkenny’s Cartoon Saloon were all amongst the nominees at this year's Academy Awards.