Cover Cedric Diggory, played by Robert Pattinson and Cho Chang, played by Katie Leung (Photo: Warner Brothers)

In light of the 20th anniversary of the Harry Potter films, 'Tatler' speaks to the costume designer about Cho Chang’s cheongsam, why Hermione Granger’s dress was pink and the overall magic of costume

How do you begin designing a costume?

Jany Temime: I start by reading the script and talking to the director. I try to find out what they want, because we are telling a story with the costumes. Every story and director’s point of view is different.

I also like to know the cast—every actor has a different look and way of being. When I have a discussion with production design to understand the style, colour, mood, location, then I have a better concept and can start designing.

When you were designing dress robes for the Yule Ball scenes, did you have a vision in mind?

JT: Although people associate these scenes from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire with Christmas, it wasn’t the core idea. The production designer chose this palace in Brighton, the Royal Pavilion, which was very glittery inside. It was a sort of ice palace—very cold, crystalline, and a lot of white and silver.

The idea was to design an incredible fantasy, to make it like a fairy tale. We’re in a magical world, and the Yule Ball is the culmination of the Triwizard tournament and those magical games. With the fantasy element in mind, I had a clear idea of what the costumes were going to look like.

This is also the moment our heroes are coming of age. The girls are looking more like women, and the boys are at an age where they’re looking at the girls. It was the first time in series where the boys and girls had the chance to start flirting with each other, which was an extremely important aspect of the story and the character development.

See more: Harry Potter Cast: Where Are They Now In 2021?

What is the most important thing you want to achieve with these costumes?

JT: Harry Potter is a film about teenagers, and it’s so important that they look and behave like teenagers. I wanted to keep the personality of each character, and the most difficult was Hermione, because it had to be a big contrast between the old her and the new her. The reaction to her changed appearance had to be “wow”.

I know that in the book it’s supposed to be blue, but I thought that the dress should be pink. Blue is so cold, and Hermione should be warm. The dress had to move and be revealing without being too much. I also wanted to have a magical sort of fabric that went from light to dark.

I added the frills on the shoulder because it would move when she was dancing. It softened the edges of the dress, and she looked like a blooming flower. Or, you go completely the other way and do a childish dress, like Ginny Weasley’s cutesy green tulle with pink pom poms.

Fleur Delacour, played by Clémence Poésy, and the Beauxbaton Academy girls were all in blue (so Hermione couldn’t have worn blue anyway), and during the introductory assembly, everyone is in black and brown and the Beauxbatons girls come in like a wind from Paris. Fleur’s Yule Ball gown is grey, and I wanted her to look couture and classy and elegant. That worked for her. We had 30 metres of chiffon for that dress, it was incredibly difficult but a beautiful result.

For the boys, we needed to a make a black-tie version of their magical gowns. I took the shape of the Hogwarts uniform, and it was beautiful. The first boy I fitted was Daniel Radcliffe, and we did it at his house.

I remember his mum was saying that he had to sleep at 9:30pm because he had to go to school the next day. When he tried on the robes, it was funny because his mum kept saying, “Oh my boy looks so handsome!” and he just replied, “Okay mum”, and went off to bed.

See more: Catch the All-New Harry Potter Tour in 2022

What about the other actors? Were there any other amusing reactions to their costumes?

JT: With Ron Weasley, he had the very ugly dress robes handed down from his Great Aunt Tessie, and what I found most admirable about Rupert Grint was that he never felt embarrassed about the costume. I remember it was the most awful thing I put on him, and it was grotesque, and he never complained.

I see him sometimes now, and he says it was all part of the role. I remember we were crying of laughter, and we just continued to add more frills. It was at that moment that I recognised Rupert was such a great actor because he was able to dissociate from his character’s personality.

Cho Chang’s dress is never described in the book—how did you decide on a cheongsam style?
 
JT: For Cho Chang, I thought it was important to represent different countries in the magical community because the students are from all over the world, so I made it very Chinese. When actress Katie Leung’s mother saw her, she got very emotional and started crying, because she said the dress reminded her of her own wedding dress. It was very sweet to see.

I wanted to continue this international variety with the Indian twins Pavarti and Padma Patil, so they wore saris—one was dressed in a pink sari with orange details and vice versa.

We had the saris made in East London. The owner was asking me if the girls were getting married. We weren't allowed to say we were working for Harry Potter, so we went along with it and said they were bridesmaids!

Fans like to speculate about the symbolism behind Cho Chang’s dress, one example being that it was white because in Chinese culture, it’s a colour worn for funerals and her date, Cedric Diggory, later dies in the film. Did you intentionally include symbolic visual cues when designing Cho’s dress, or was that just a coincidence?

JT: Yes, it was intentional. I wanted to include visual symbolism, and it was easy—if people understood it, then great, and if they didn’t, it was a nice colour. Designers think a lot about these details!

See more: In Conversation With: 'Spencer' Costume Designer Jacqueline Durran 

Which were the most difficult costumes to design?

JT: All the students and teachers had individual dress robes made—we worked really hard, but it was incredibly fun! Madame Maxime’s dress was quite complicated because we had the actress, Frances de la Tour herself, and then her literal giant proportions for the film, so we had to design multiple iterations of the dress to scale up.

How much involvement does JK Rowling have in the final costumes?

JT: JK Rowling was always very nice to me, but she’s not someone who speaks a lot. The few times we met up to discuss the costumes, she was very complimentary and very happy with the themes.

I think she understood that the aesthetic of the film had to be different from the books. It’s a different medium—you don’t write a book like you make a film. She was always happy with our decisions. She’s a smart woman who knew that this was a different process.

You look at this film 20 years later and the characters look real, and the costumes still work. In costume design, longevity is the best compliment that you can receive. I think it’s because we had an excellent director working extremely well with the actors. It’s no secret. A good film is a good film because everything works together—the script, the director, the production design, the costumes, everything. And that’s what you see in every film, and that was our strength.

What did you wear to your “Yule Ball” during your time at school?

JT: When I was a teenager, I changed clothes three times a day, and I always dressed up on the weekends. I adore fashion and clothes, and still do. How magical is it to put something on and to feel 100 times like yourself? I hope to do that with costumes too—you put a costume on, and you feel like a different person. It’s truly magical.

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