From visionary director Ava DuVernay and based on Madeleine L’Engle’s timeless classic, A Wrinkle in Time follows Meg Murry (Storm Reid), as she sets out on a transformative journey to discover that strength comes from embracing one’s flaws and that the light inside us can overcome the darkness around us. Meg is a typical teenager struggling with issues of self-worth, along with the mysterious disappearance of her father, four years ago. Upon learning that her father might still be alive but trapped on another planet, somewhere in the cosmos, Meg sets out on an adventure with her younger brother, Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe), and fellow classmate, Calvin (Levi Miller), to find out if she has the courage it will take to get him back.
During promotion for the film, Collider got the opportunity to go to Disney Studios to sit down with costume designer Paco Delgado and we spoke 1-on-1 about how he got involved with A Wrinkle in Time, the process of collaborating with Ava DuVernay, how the designs evolved, that he loves a challenge, and what inspired him to become a costume designer. He also talked about currently working on the Jungle Cruise movie, inspired by the Disney Parks ride, and how lucky he is to have worked wit directors that have a really strong view on things.
Collider: When A Wrinkle in Time came your way, because it is very different from what you’ve done in the past, what was it that made you want to get involved?
PACO DELGADO: When it was offered to me, I just thought, “Great!” I loved the script, I loved the idea of working with Ava [DuVernay], I thought the actors were amazing, and I thought the whole project was really amazing. But then, once I was inside of it, I realized how amazing this job was. In the beginning, I didn’t grasp it completely. I’m very impulse, myself. I just work by impulse. If somebody offers me something I like, I jump into it. I think life should be like that. Once I was inside it, I was like, “Woah, I’m so lucky I said yes!” I could have said no, but I didn’t.
When it came time to create the looks for the Mrs., how did the process start? Did you come up with ideas on your own, and then talk them over with Ava DuVernay, or did you start by having a conversation with Ava first?
DELGADO: I had a conversation with her when I was in Berlin, doing something for the Berlin Film Festival. She called me, and then she sent me the script and told me to read it to see if I was interested in it. Then, she told me, “I don’t want the costumes to be a part of the world. I want the costumes to be for people who don’t come from Earth.” So, I started putting together a mood board of ideas and images, and then I sent it to her and she said, “Yes, I like it. Now, I’m going to give you what I think about hair and make-up.” She sent that to me, and then I did another search for images, based on that. Basically, she said, “Yes, this is more or less what I’m thinking.” We had conversations and she told me exactly what she wanted and how she saw every character. There was obviously a lot of input from Ava.
How close is the finished product compared to your initial vision?
DELGADO: We spent a lot of time trying to design them. If you are doing a suit, sometimes you don’t even draw it. You can alter the dimensions of the length and the buttons, and all of that. In this case, because it was so fantastical, we had to be more accurate with the looks we wanted. We’d draw the costumes with the help of an illustrator, and then we’d try to make it happen, as close to the original idea as we could. It was hard because, in some cases, we had to keep trying. Fabrics and materials sometimes don’t behave in the way that you want, and you have to make them behave.
Was there a specific costume that you were most excited to see on the actor wearing it?
DELGADO: It’s very difficult to say. When we were doing the movie, everyone on my team would keep changing their minds about their favorite costume. Oprah herself was like, “This is my favorite costume!” And then, a week later, she’d be like, “No, this is my favorite costume!” I have a special liking of the costumes worn on the planet Uriel because they’re the most colorful ones and I love color. They were playful and had great movement. I liked all of the costumes for all of the ladies, but some were more complex than others. I love Red, as well. I thought he was cool.
Are you excited to see how your costumes for A Wrinkle in Time might inspire people at Halloween?
DELGADO: That would be a lot of fun! I haven’t thought about that. Human thought is so amazing that I’m sure some little kid somewhere is capable of trying it and succeeding.
What was it that inspired you to become a costume designer? Had you always been interested in costumes and fashion?
DELGADO: When I was a child, I used to love to draw and I was drawing, all the time. And then, when I went to university, I was a very good student at math and science, and I studied physics. I didn’t finish my studies because I had a crisis in my third year and I thought, “This is not for me. I don’t see myself being a physicist or a mathematician.” I also was very interested in theater and started studying theater design. I didn’t want to be a costume designer, in particular. I wanted to create sets for theater. That was my aim. But then, when I finished studying theater design, I went to London and started working in the theater, in a very off-off-Broadway situation in London, which they call Fringe. I was creating sets, but because the companies never had money to pay a costume designer, I was doing costumes, as well. It came in a really natural way. People were saying, “Your costumes look great!,” and I was like, “Really?!” They said, “You should try to do more.” Little by little, my costumes got bigger and bigger, and my sets got smaller and smaller. I ended up doing plays where the sets were very minimal and I started putting the money in costumes because I realized that the important thing is to tell the story and, if you haven’t got a lot of money, costumes actually help the actor more than having a background with an amazing wall. That’s how I got hooked into costumes. In the beginning, I didn’t find them difficult and I always love challenges, but then I found the complexity. If I find that something is challenging, complicated and difficult, I end up loving it. I get really bored, really quickly. Once I found the complexity in costumes, I fell in love with them.
Now that you’ve done something like A Wrinkle in Time, what are you looking to do next?