Gabriella Loria is a global citizen. Born in Australia to Italian parents, Gabriella travels the world continuously for her work as a costume designer for films. It is her passion for travel, and the experiences that result, that inspires her creativity in both life and work.
Gabriella: I’m a gypsy at heart. I’ve been travelling since I was a kid. I loving nothing better than arriving somewhere new and immersing myself into the local culture, the food, the art, the clothes, and markets; and people fascinate me to.
For the past twenty years, Gabriella has worked as an assistant designer, or buyer of clothing and fabric, on an incredible range of films from the Bond films of Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, to Woody Allen’s To Rome With Love, and more recently Everest.
Gabriella: Working on the film Everest challenged and inspired me immensely. We shot a lot of the film in Nepal, which is such a fascinating and beautiful country. Often we would have to go by chopper to various locations between Lukla and the memorial, just below Base Camp. I will never forget on one occasion, I was travelling up with the lead actor Jason Clarke. We had to fly higher than usual, and we went “into thin air”, (like the title of the book on which the film is based). We then landed in this stunning location, breathing in spectacular mountainous views, me with the leading man; and then altitude sickness took over, and I vomited!
I ask Gabriella how much input lead actors are able to make with regards to their costumes and discover it varies depending on the actual designer, and the actor.
Gabriella: On Basic Instinct 2, we completed Sharon Stone’s entire costume fitting in one ten hour session. We arrived at the home she was renting in London, with this big truck full of clothing. The original film, Basic Instinct, was shot in California, so the costumes were lighter and brighter. Filming for the sequel, took place in a wintery London, so we went for a darker, moodier look for her costumes. Sharon obviously knew her character incredibly well, so it was very much collaboration between the actor and the design team.
Gabriella left Australia as a baby-faced seventeen year old to study fashion design, her first passion, at the prestigious L’Accademia Di Costume e di Moda, (The Academy of Costume and Fashion) in Rome. As part of her course, Gabriella studied everything about fashion and costume, including fabric design. These days, wherever she is in the world, Gabriella is constantly sourcing fabrics, buttons and braids.
Gabriella: I love talking to locals, and watching them work. On a recent trip to South America, I became obsessed with these amazing woven bags in Columbia. I went to market after market to watch local women creating these extremely colourful works of art; every bag was unique. I bought several of the bags and will incorporate them into a costume design for someone, some day!
Despite majoring in fashion design, unlike so many of her class-mates, who have gone on to hold senior design roles at major fashion houses such as Gucci, Gabriella changed paths after a secondment on a film, the week after graduation.
Gabriella: I graduated thinking I would become a fashion designer, and then my flat-mate at the time, who just graduated with me but in costume design, was unable to take a secondment on a film in a Rome costume house, so I took her place. By the end of the first week working on the film, I completely changed my mind on what I wanted to do for the rest of my life! I felt so liberated; I thought every film, opera, theatre project I will work on will be so different, set in any time in history, and in any part of the world; it was this massive scope of potential creativity that I couldn’t resist.
Having a couple of languages in her repertoire, Gabriella is able to work in many countries and converse easily with the locals. For Casino Royale, Gabriella was responsible for overseeing the production in Italy of the leading actress’ dresses, being created by several of the world’s leading fashion houses.
Gabriella: Roberto Cavalli was asked to create the stunning backless purple dress for Eva Green, which received a lot of press at the time. I also loved the Versace black gown with boned bodice and fishtail skirt, which Eva also wore. Given the actress, and her stunt double, would be wearing these dresses in crazy action scenes, we would have at least ten versions of the same dress made, as they would be continuously getting ruined during filming. And sometimes the stunt-double would be a size or two larger than the lead actress, so we’d have everything made in two sizes. I loved being able to go behind the scenes of these incredible design companies to watch the seamstresses at work. The amount of beading, and craftsmanship, was extraordinary.
Back in Australia to visit family, I catch up with Gabriella, where else but at a fabric store. As we wander up and down aisles feeling fabric, Gabriella becomes a font of ideas for what she wants to make, typically without a pattern.
Gabriella: I’m going to get a few metres of this one, (she says, spotting some colourful rolls of canvas) I need a couple of bags for work so I’ll whizz up a couple while I’m here.
As often the case with Gabriella, her next twelve months are still in flux, she goes where the work is, no matter where in the world; she is a gypsy at heart after all. No doubt this next stint will take her somewhere exotic where once again she will be creatively inspired by what she sees.
Gabriella can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org