Oscar-Nominated Costume Designer Antonella Cannarozzi Talks 'I Am Love'

Courtesy of Antonella Cannarozzi
A sketch from I Am Love's costume designer.

Though the costumes in Luca Guadagnino’s I Am Love, starring the inimitable Tilda Swinton, are often credited to Jil Sander in the press, there’s actually another person who is responsible for a majority of the sumptuous looks that helped create the very picture of opulence and luxury in turn-of-the-millennium Milan.

Meet Antonella Cannarozzi, an Italian native and first-time Academy Award nominee. With Fendi and Jil Sander helping with the men’s and women's attire, respectively, Cannarozzi grew a body of research based on color and old films (mostly Hitchcock). The result: spare yet opulent looks that helped imitate the life of an upper-middle-class northern Italian family who slowly crumble in the wake of a heated love affair.

We caught up with Cannarozzi, who graciously traversed the English/Italian language barrier to answer our questions and offer an exclusive look at her work.

What resources did you have for this film?

We had a very small budget, as far as the money concerns, but with a great help from the fashion brands. But the small budget made it a great challenge.

There were so many beautiful looks. How long did you work on this?

Roughly five months, but we started to reason about the movie with Luca two years before starting!

Wow, two years! Where did you look for research/inspiration?

Wherever I can find something that talks to me about the project. Photos, paintings, books, life!

Obviously, color played a huge part in the film. What were you trying to communicate with it?

I tried to create Emma’s (Swinton) world. At the beginning, to give a sense of close and dark, I took inspiration from Russian constructivism, and later bringing her toward a more natural world.

The beauty and pleasure in cuisine play such a huge part in this film, especially visually. Was this a part of your process?

Yes, of course. Luca loves to have it all under control!

How did your collaboration with Jil Sander work?

It was a dressmaking cooperation. We worked on the character, focusing it and trying to create a no-time style very close to that of Italian high bourgeoisie.

What’s been the greatest part of all this?

To be known abroad and mainly to be an Academy Award nominee!

Make sure to be here on February 27 for our extensive 2011 Oscars coverage and, in the meantime, check out our red carpet dress predictions.