Manuel Albarran is a a master craftsman with an expertise in metal couture, corsetry and leather. The Spanish designer was part of the design team that created each and every one of Angelina Jolie‘s looks in her latest film, “Maleficent,” and was in charge of creating the the character’s accessories as well as her final look.
I had a chance to speak to this creative genius and find out his inspirations for the pieces he created, his choice of unconventional materials and his experience working with the Oscar-winning actress. Here is what he had to say:
Mariana Dussan (MD): How did you get into the world of jewelry making and from there, how did you manage to become part of the design team for “Maleficent”?
Manuel Albarran (MA): What I do is called metal coture, which is a ramification of jewelry – a mixture of fashion and jewelry. I started with that because I studied fashion at the School of Arts and Fashion Techniques in Barcelona because I loved materials like metal and leathers. From that point on, I kept researching and teaching myself until getting to the point I am now.
They contacted from the film because they needed a support designer for Angelina Jolie’s character. I went to the interview, showed them my work and they hired me instantly. I worked on her character for three months.
(MD): Where did you find the inspirations for your work on Jolie’s character?
(MA): Since her character is a mythological one I researched a lot of fairy tales, history and even architecture. A lot of the pieces I required a more structural design, but at the same time I had to keep the organic part of the woods in mind. I tried to give the pieces a more modern twist, not to just copy what was already in the original story, basically a modern look but with historical references.
(MD): What were some of the variety of organic materials that you used for Jolie’s character and where did you get them?
(MA): We used teeth, bones, animal hides, and even hair. I simply ordered them and there is a team called buyers that get us everything we wanted. When you work with a company like Disney you have access to all of that, and that’s one of the best perks, you say “I want this” and they’ll get it for you, it may take a little while, but they get it.
For every design we used a mixture of these materials and many them used up to 7 or 8 different types because what the specific combinations communicated is what gave each piece the personality it needed.
(MD): What was your biggest design challenge?
(MA): I think the last piece she wore, a full-body suit which, I had a huge part in designing. The technical aspect of it was the most complicated part because we used hides and hair conjointly so for it to have a clean finished look it was hard. The piece is not a look that you can just send down the runway, on the contrary, Angelia had to move, fly, fight so we had to make sure that piece worked for that.
(MD): Were you able to work one-on-one with the actress and how did she react to your designs?
(MA): Yes, from the beginning I had contact with her because it was important to not only dress her character, but her to believe it and feel good in what we designed. My experience with her was incredible, it was the best having direct contact and connecting with her when it came to designing because I understood what she wanted. She was fascinated with and loved the pieces we made for her character.