American Film

Costume designer Ellen Mirojnick, the straight-talking subject of "Can You Imagine Them Making Love?" by Carol Troy in the June 1989 American Film, is still going a mile a minute. (Literally! She spoke with us as her car threaded the canyons of Los Angeles.) Mirojnick recently won an Emmy® for BEHIND THE CANDELABRA, the HBO movie about the relationship of Liberace and Scott Thorson, starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon. She has designed two upcoming features, AND SO IT GOES and NEED FOR SPEED, and is working in long-form television with director Steven Soderbergh on THE KNICK, starring Clive Owen, a mini-series set at the turn of the last century.

We caught up with the woman who put Michael Douglas in Gordon Gekko's suspenders and Liberace's caftans and asked about Troy's story. "I thought it was a great story. Carol Troy and I stayed in touch for quite some time...I thought that she captured who I was and how I worked and what I thought was important in terms of my contribution to the film... It really spoke to what I really believed and what I've tried to make people understand: Contemporary costume design is a genre of design that is just as meaningful as period design or fantasy design or sci-fi design. Others outside our industry and inside our industry, actually, feel that a contemporary piece is very easy to do and anybody can do it, which isn't true. It's sometimes much harder to do."

Does Mirojnick still believe that sex is the key to costume design? "Without a question of a doubt! I still have the same foundation when I design now... Whether I go to JCPenney or Neiman Marcus or design to order in my workroom, it all equals costume design. It isn't a matter of selection; it's a matter of design for the character and what best serves the story." Mirojnick considers her experience on BEHIND THE CANDELABRA a highpoint of her career. "Every single aspect of that entire experience was sublime," she said. "I've never had a better experience." But when it comes to the film industry, in general, Mirojnick sees changes, and not always for the better. "I've adapted to... new ways of working and that means working with less money and earning less money... a new economic structure," she explained. The film business has not paid attention to technology and what is going on in the world, in my opinion. It has lacked leadership. I think that the film business needs a very big boost. It's not always about money; it should be about stories and it should be about talent." With that in mind, here's a story about one remarkable talent – Ellen Mirojnick.