'Les Misérables' Costume Designer Paco Delgado: "Latinos Value Color in a Way That Most People Don’t"

The Hollywood Reporter

The highly anticipated film Les Misérables, starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway is already getting plenty of Oscar buzz. While the movie may not star a Latino actor on-screen, Spanish designer Paco Delgado is responsible for the beautiful costumes featured in the early 1800s period piece. Just a few weeks ago, his designs received a Critic's Choice Award nomination for "Best Costume Design."

We chatted with Delgado about the design process and what inspires him the most. Read our exclusive interview below!

Did you work closely with director Tom Hooper to conceptualize the design of the costumes?

Yes, he described the image he had in mind for the costumes and the look he wanted to convey. His goal was to really create a certain level of realism without losing the fantasy aspect of the musical. He also gave me free reign to play with color and textures. It was very clear from the beginning that this would be a one-of-a-kind project for me.

Describe what the design process was like – from developing the concept to actualizing it.

This is a musical that has been around for over 25 years. I wanted to do it justice and give the musical a level of respect it deserves while also adding my own creative touch. The first thing I did was read Victor Hugo’s piece to get a sense of how these characters lived. I also studied historical paintings set in the Romantic Period, including Goya. After I felt immersed in that time, I started sketching and looking for fabrics that would fit with my designs.

You have also spoken about how important color is for you as a designer. Can you elaborate about why it’s such a strong muse for you?

I’m in love with color! I believe it’s an incredible tool for designers to use to evoke emotions. Some people say that Latinos are masters at color – and I believe this to be true. We value color in a way that most people don’t. I think balance is key though. One of my mottos is that I never want the outfit wearing the person – it should be the other way around. I always drive to have my work be as authentic as possible.

Do you have a favorite character you loved working on?

I loved them all. You know how parents say, ‘There are no favorites with my children’? That’s how I feel, but we all know they are never being honest when they say that! So one of my favorites is Hugh Jackman’s character Jean Valjean because of his life journey from ex-con to a proper individual. I also loved working on Anne Hathaway and Amada Seyfried’s costumes. Also, I loved working on Sacha Baron Cohen’s costumes. All of the actors were amazing to work with.

Did you always know you wanted to be a costume designer?

To be honest, no I didn’t think this would be my path. I started doing set design first and interior design projects. I started doing costume design because I thought it would be easy back then, and little by little I learned the craft. I realized the hard way that it would be a lot of work, but by then I already fell in love with the art.

What’s the biggest challenge that you have in your field?

Facing the blank page. Every time you start a new project, you start it from scratch. The hardest part for me is coming up with the sketches. There’s always a level of fear about whether it’s going to come out like crap or look amazing. That fear never goes away.

What inspires you day-to-day?

I love life. I love observing people on the street and looking at what they have on. I also enjoy going to art exhibits and the movies. But above all, I am inspired by just living in the moment.

Watch a clip on Paco's design process below. Les Misérables hits theaters nationwide on Christmas. Are you excited to see the film?

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