Best known for his highly conceptual creations in the fashion design world, artist Manuel Albarran was given the opportunity to use his skills as a metalsmith to help bring to life one of the most iconic villainesses in cinematic history. In the new film ‘Maleficent,’ which stars Oscar winner Angelina Jolie in the title role, Albarran was tapped by the studio to design many of Maleficent’s accessories such as her collars, rings, brooches, bracelets, shoulder-pieces and spines. To do so, Albarran, who has created custom pieces in the past for celebrities like Beyoncé and Madonna, used everything from leather and feathers to animal skins and bones to “create costumes that would be beautiful, yet dark in character…like Maleficent herself.”
What were you thinking when you found out you were going to participate in such an integral part of this film – creating some of the accessories the title character would wear?
When they told me they were interested in having me work on the movie I was shocked. Oddly enough, the character of Maleficent was one of my favorites. I had a meeting [with the studio] and they told me I was in. I was very excited about the process. I have to say it’s been the most fascinating thing I’ve ever done as an artist.
Since your aesthetic as a designer is similar to the look and feel of the film, was the design process something that came natural for you?
Yes, I was really confident with the design part of the process. I had to think deeper about the design and the history behind the design. I had to think about the fashion in both the past and the present. I wanted to make something that was very different and unusual. It was great to have that kind of access to Angelina because I wanted to know how she felt and what she was trying to express.
Do you have formal training as a metalsmith?
I studied fashion design first. Then I started developing more techniques with materials like leather and metals. I started moving away from the fashion industry and working in different ways. Now, I can work with so many different materials. I can work with just about anything. When someone asks me to create something, I can probably do it. That’s most important to me – to be known as a multi-talented artist.
What piece did you enjoy creating the most for this film?
Well, I feel most confident working with metal, whether it is gold or copper or brass. So, I enjoyed working with anything that was made of metal. I was working with a lot of different elements in the film and even looking at things like color for the detailed structures. I enjoy making things out of metal and then covering them with other material like leather to make them even more beautiful.
To see more of Manuel Albarran’s work, click here.