Fans of “Harry Potter” are notoriously obsessed with the gifted boy in glasses. So imagine the pressure faced by costume designer Jany Temime, who is charged with the care of Harry, Hermione and Ron as well as a host of other beloved characters. Luckily, the designer has J.K. Rowling herself on call for the 650-odd ensembles Temime produced for the fifth film in the series, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” released Wednesday.
“She comes to visit and we ask her things — like when we were designing the Quidditch robes, we wanted to know how many players there would be before putting the numbers on the gowns,” says the French Temime, who has been part of the Potter team since director Alfonso Cuarón tapped her for the third film.
Professor Umbridge, a new character played by Imelda Staunton, was the most fun this time for Temime, who spends 10 months overseeing a staff of more than 50 people on each film. “She was described as being all in pink, and we padded her bottom to give her a ducky walk — like Daisy Duck,” she says of Umbridge’s 10 very pink costumes. To Temime’s delight, Rowling gave her resounding approval: “She said Professor Umbridge was exactly what she thought it would be.”
As for Lord Voldemort, played by a barely recognizable Ralph Fiennes, Temime used 197 feet of silk and played off the membrane-like skin in which he had been encased in the fourth film. “I wanted to give him more structure, since before he was like a newborn. So now, he has a robe — not that I ever believed that Voldemort was going shopping,” she says with a laugh, “but he had time to develop himself.”
The Ecole de Louvre-educated Temime, a former Elle fashion editor, “washes up” her mind, as she puts it, by working on other films like “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason,” and “Children of Men,” in between each “Harry Potter.” “You have to get creativity — you can’t stay in the studio looking at the wall,” she says, even though that studio would be the envy of many a fashion designer, complete with its own dyeing shop. Next up is next year’s “In Burges,” starring Fiennes and Colin Farrell as two hit men. “They had guns instead of wands,” jokes Temime, who is also waiting for the casting of the sixth “Harry Potter” movie to be finalized.
And luckily, Temime adores her charges as much as everyone else. “I love the kids. They are my babies now,” she avows. “It’s been so beautiful to see them growing up. It’s a big family.”
As the child actors have grown into teenagers, Temime is very conscious of making them relatable characters, outfitting them in contemporary clothing like sweatshirts. “I dressed up the kids like their neighbors, not like special little magic kids. It was necessary to sell to kids of 13 and older,” she says. “They could imagine that the Wizard was really their neighbor.”
But those “Harry Potter” fans won’t get any advance information out of Temime. She swears, “I really don’t know” what will happen in the seventh book, out July 21. “I will be the first one in line. It’s like Christmas.” When she does get her copy, Temime will read the last chapter first. “I want to know what happens to Harry. He’s too good to be dead,” as has been much-rumored. “He has to save the world.”