Jo Linehan steps on set to meet Eimer Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh, the Irish costume designer behind some of the most iconic films and dramas.
On a leafy lawn in Donabate, deep within the lair of a costume truck, Eimer Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh is holding fort. We’ve crashed her party, on the set of her latest project, Love and Friendship, currently being shot in our very own Newbridge House in North County Dublin. “The great Whit Stillman is directing and we have a fantastic cast – Kate Beckinsale, Chloë Sevigny, Stephen Fry …” Eimer’s name is synonymous throughout Irish film. Having studied fashion in Limerick, she got her big break designing for Breakfast on Pluto.
“Dressing Cillian [Murphy] was brilliant. We took a lot of inspiration from David Bowie and kept him in that boyish frame – he didn’t need much else, that face and those big eyes …” It was Eimer’s craft that elevated Calvary’s profound visuality – we are still dreaming of Kelly Reilly’s green pea coat. “I designed that coat! We dyed the wool to that colour green. I have been contacted by quite a few people wanting to know where I bought it.”
The process it takes to physically dress an entire production is a slow and collaborative one – being on set with Eimer, even for our measly hour, is a taste of what her lifestyle imbues – long hours, a hell of a good team behind her, and plenty of downtime for balance. “Life is in County Meath with my husband, daughter [twelve] and son [seven]. We’ve just watched Le Ballon Rouge from the 1950s, which is so beautiful.”
She combs London’s haberdasheries for period piece supplies – laces and trims – and declares Morocco her favourite location for shoots. “I love that it’s exotic and European at the same time. It’s not easy because if you need something last minute, it’s hard to source, but it’s full of people who can make things, from shoes to jewellery.” And that sums up Eimer perfectly – enthused by a challenge and excited by creativity, its process as much as its result.