Sandy Powell — the three-time Oscar-winning costume designer whose credits include Gangs of New York, Shakespeare in Love, Carol and The Irishman — is set to receive the BAFTA Fellowship, the British Academy’s highest honor.
Powell, who becomes the first costume designer to be awarded the fellowship, will be given the honor at the BAFTA film awards on Feb. 19.
“I am hugely flattered to receive the BAFTA Fellowship and especially proud to be the first costume designer,” said Powell. “I am lucky in that I love what I do and have been extremely fortunate to have collaborated with some of the most talented and inspirational people in the industry both behind and in front of the camera. I look forward to many more years to come.”
Beginning in fringe theater before meeting filmmaker and mentor Derek Jarman, Powell landed her first BAFTA and Oscar nomination for Sally Potter’s Orlando. She later collaborated with director Neil Jordan on five films, including The Crying Game, Interview with the Vampire and Michael Collins, and received a double nomination at the 1998 BAFTAs for Todd Haynes’ Velvet Goldmine and John Madden’s Shakespeare in Love. The former won Powell the first of three BAFTA awards for best costume design — having been nominated five times at this point — and the latter the first of three Academy Awards.
Gangs of New York would be the first of seven collaborations with Martin Scorsese, which included her second Oscar for The Aviator. In 2009 Powell collaborated with Jean-Marc Vallée on The Young Victoria, winning her second BAFTA and third Academy Award. In 2011, she was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her services to the film industry, while in 2018, Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite and Rob Marshall’s Mary Poppins Returns would make her the most-nominated costume designer in Oscars history after Edith Head. To date, Powell has been nominated at the BAFTAs and Oscars for best costume design 15 times each.
Most recently, Powell’s credits include Oliver Hermanus’ Living and Marc Webb’s Snow White, which is currently in post-production.
“Sandy Powell is not only a great designer, she is a great storyteller,” said BAFTA CEO Jane Millichip. “Her costumes are mesmerizing in their beauty, but they also interpret narrative brilliantly and provide the infrastructure for character. For more than three decades, Sandy has raised awareness for the craft of costume design in film and provided a spotlight for designers in the act of filmmaking. We look forward to honoring Sandy’s work this month at our EE BAFTA Film Awards and to working with her over the next year to inspire the next generation of costume designers and storytellers.”
Previous Fellows include Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Sean Connery, Elizabeth Taylor, Stanley Kubrick, Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Olivier, Judi Dench, Vanessa Redgrave, Christopher Lee, Martin Scorsese, Alan Parker, Helen Mirren, Mike Leigh, Sidney Poitier, Mel Brooks, Sir Ridley Scott, Thelma Schoonmaker and Kathleen Kennedy. Ang Lee received the fellowship at the film awards in 2021.