Yvonne Blake, Award-Winning Costume Designer, Is Dead at 78
Yvonne Blake, the British-born, Spanish-based costume designer who gained an Oscar for Russian chinchilla-trimmed coats and grand army uniforms in “Nicholas and Alexandra” and science-fiction immortality for superhero and supervillain ensembles in “Superman,” died on Tuesday in Madrid. She was 78.
The dying was introduced by the Spanish Movie Academy, which mentioned Ms. Blake had a stroke in January. Ms. Blake, who lived in Spain along with her husband, Gil Carretero, a Spanish screenwriter and director, had been the academy’s president till then.
Ms. Blake shared her 1971 Academy Award for “Nicholas and Alexandra,” a drama about Russia’s ruling household, the Romanoffs, with Antonio Castillo. “If it wasn’t for the Russian Revolution, I wouldn’t be right here,” she mentioned when she accepted her award.
Her most recognizable work, nevertheless, was for “Superman” (1978) and its 1980 sequel. She did her unique sketches earlier than Christopher Reeve was forged as Superman, calling for a “leotard in shimmering blue two-way stretch material worn over false muscle tissues and harness for flying.”
ImageMr. Blake on the Malaga Movie Competition in Malaga, Spain, in 2017. Though she gained an Oscar for “Nicholas and Alexandra,” she was most likely finest identified for her work on “Superman.”CreditCarlos Alvarez/Getty Photos
For Marlon Brando, who performed Superman’s father, Jor-El, she selected a reflective materials known as 3M, really helpful by the director of images and used for making movie-theater screens. The one downside was that it turned black when naked palms touched it, so crew members needed to put on white cotton gloves.
Ms. Blake additionally gained Goya Awards, Spain’s equal of the Oscar, for “Rowing With the Wind” (1988), “Carmen” (2003) and “Canción de Cuna” (1994), all set in 19th-century England or Spain, and “The Bridge of San Luis Rey” (2004), set in 18th-century Peru.
Yvonne Ann Blake was born in Manchester, England, on April 17, 1940, the daughter of Harald and Marga (Heilbrün) Blake. She taught herself to attract when she was just a little woman and as soon as instructed Audrey Hepburn that as a teen she was impressed to turn out to be a designer by the 1957 movie “Humorous Face,” during which Ms. Hepburn wore Givenchy fashions.
Ms. Blake attended the Regional Faculty of Artwork and Design in her hometown for a yr. However she seen her internship at Bermans, the British costume home, as her actual schooling.
When Cecil Beaton labored with Bermans because the costume and manufacturing designer for the 1964 movie “My Honest Woman,” Ms. Blake recalled in a 2013 presentation on the Trend Institute of Expertise Museum in New York, she had the prospect to work with him, though she was uncredited: “I used to be holding the pins. I went in to purchase beading” — and, most essential, “I used to be like a sponge.” She additionally designed costumes for cabaret performances and drag exhibits.
ImageChristopher Reeve in “Superman” (1978). Ms. Blake’s sketches for the character known as for a “leotard in shimmering blue two-way stretch material worn over false muscle tissues and harness for flying.”CreditWarner Bros. Footage/Photofest
She labored on François Truffaut’s movie model of the Ray Bradbury novel “Fahrenheit 451” (1966), set in a dystopian future, though she was once more uncredited. Truffaut, she mentioned later, preferred her uniforms for the futuristic “firemen” (who truly burn books) as a result of that they had a Nazi high quality.
Ms. Blake’s different work included the costumes for Norman Jewison’s “Jesus Christ Famous person” (1973), Richard Lester’s “The Three Musketeers” (1973) and “Robin & Marian” (1976), and Milos Forman’s “Goya’s Ghosts” (2006). Her closing movie was “There Be Dragons” (2011); she additionally designed the costume Jack Taylor wore as a sadistic serial killer within the 2014 horror film “Wax.”
Along with her husband, Mr. Carretero, her survivors embrace a son, David Carretero Blake, a cinematographer; a sister, Juliet Blake; and three grandchildren.
Requested for profession recommendation by viewers members on the F.I.T. Museum, Ms. Blake instructed working with younger administrators who have been making quick movies and going to museums for analysis. When a girl requested her for time-management recommendation, Ms. Blake primarily threw up her palms.
She did it “very badly,” she mentioned, including: “I had a small youngster. I had nannies from hell, and as soon as” — whereas engaged on “Superman” — “I didn’t have time to fireplace her.” Ms. Blake introduced her son to the studio, she mentioned, and associates helped entertain him.