Personal History: Ane Crabtree

The Hollywood costume designer finds inspiration in Joan Didion’s packing list.

ane crabtree

When somebody is iconic, like Joan Didion, what makes them iconic is never what they’re wearing. Never. To try to capture that is always so difficult. I don’t think anyone, including myself, is capable, because the magic belongs to that person’s own aura. I shared Didion’s famous packing list with Anne Hathaway and Dee Rees and my team on The Last Thing He Wanted, and I said, “This is what I want for the character of the journalist Elena.” Here is this woman who was so powerful in her quietness, and her style was so quiet too. Thinking back, it was nice to not have to think, How do I make this character sexy? Her confidence and strength were sexy. Didion never took on a persona or tried to be anything other than what she was, even when she was surrounded by other writers, politicians, madmen, actors. She always looked like herself, and I think people really trusted that. And that’s why they told her everything.•

—As told to Steffie Nelson

Ane Crabtree is a costume designer best known for The Handmaid’s Tale.
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