Theaterkunst Talk

Suzanne Cave

Irish costume designer Suzanne Cave has travelled to New York in the 1980s with the costume design for the Netflix series “Eric” and relied on costumes from our collection. For her work on “A Very English Scandal”, she was honoured with the BAFTA Television Craft Award in the “Best Costume Design” category in 2019. She was nominated for an OFTA Television Award for “The Hour” in 2012. In 2023, she took part in an episode of the series “Black Mirror”.

We spoke to her about her first visit to Theaterkunst and asked her what advice she would give newcomers to the profession.

Copyright: Netflix, BBC – Portrait: Suzanne Cave


Suzanne Cave

How did you get started with your work as a costume designer for the series „Eric“?

As with every project, the first thing I did was a deep dive into picture research of the period and the previous decades leading up to our story while also referencing films and art. I worked closely with the director and Art Department to develop the look of the show from mood and colour, to the environments that the characters inhabit.

Eric was primarily shot in Budapest so I had to crew up locally (apart from core team members: Costume Supervisor and key Design Assistants). This included a large workroom, crowd team and ageing & dyeing department.  Filming also took place in New York so I had to engage and manage a US costume team.

The net was cast wide in terms of hiring and vintage shopping as what was available in Hungary was very limited. I used costume houses and vintage dealers from the UK, US, Spain and (obviously 😉 Germany.

It‘s a deep dive into the 80’s. What’s so unique about the style of that particular time?

Well actually from my very first conversation with the director it was clear we weren’t going to go down the road of cliched 1980s – big hair, big shoulders – not to say we didn’t dip in a little when required for the character/story. For example, the iconic beautiful-ugly jumper/sweater did get its moment and The Lux nightclub was a delicious opportunity to go outfit crazy!

Our show is set in 1985 in New York and deals with the many layers of society at that time. So it was a real mash-up of clothing styles: Rich and poor, powerful and powerless, old & young, fashionable and everyday. In other words, a dream job for a costume designer.

For certain characters I referenced the 70s. Cassie for example (earth tones, corduroy coulottes, vintage YSL blouses and Loewe jackets). And Vincent definitely had a throwback feel to him, channeling his heyday in the preceding decade with t-shirts and patterned shirts worn under slim-fitting cord jackets.

It’s been your first time working with Theaterkunst. What was your first impression of our collection and what are the advantages of a costume house for your daily work?

I was delighted to discover Theaterkunst. What initially struck me was the care taken with the collection. The condition of the pieces both original and reproduction is immaculate and they have clearly been chosen with taste and discernment. The shoe room was a particular delight (usually quite a sad place in larger costume houses, where footwear goes to die 😉

The big bonus of using a good costume house is the wide choice of costumes under one roof and having the support of a team of knowledgable and helpful experts. It’s also great for inspiration and the joy of discovering something you didn’t even know you were looking for.

Which advice would you provide for costume designers who are at the beginning of their career?

Be curious and absorb all things visual. You’d be surprised how many people in costume I’ve come across that don’t watch films/tv dramas or go to galleries/museums.

Be ready to fight your corner on budget. It comes with the territory.

Love what you do, otherwise the intense pressure and punishing hours will be a living hell!

Thank you very much for the interview!

My pleasure. And I hope to see you all again before too long 🙂