Tweed Profiles

1. Name:

Gary McCann

2. Occupation: 

Set and costume designer for theatre and opera.

3. Obviously you have a flair for all things sartorial. Would you say your interest in clothing has stemmed from your work or was it the catalyst for it?

I remember always being fascinated by clothing as a child—digging old waistcoats out of the wardrobe and so on. As a teenager I was listening to The Smiths, The Cure, and I went through a Goth phase – which I guess was all about the creation of a very particular look. Having now designed thousands of costumes on more than 100 productions I’ve had a lot of opportunities to develop these skills and interests much further in both personal and professional contexts.

4. As you spend so much time travelling we imagine you see great variation in the styles of clothing worn in different cities. In your opinion where are the 'best-dressed' people located?

The obvious candidates would be London, Paris, Milan, New York, and Tokyo. That said, the places I find genuinely interesting are those which have a very laid back, Bohemian vibe, allowing individuals the freedom to embrace and celebrate their eccentricities—cities like Amsterdam, Sydney, and Brighton.

5. Tell us about some of your set and costume designs—what productions stand out from recent years, and why?

It’s my job to make the productions as visually exciting as I possibly can, so in that regard I enjoy working on all my projects immensely, and it’s a little hard to pick favourites. A few highlights are The Golden Cockerel which I designed for Santa Fe Opera this summer, on which the costume department did a sensational job creating a whole set of over-the-top fairytale costumes featuring stunning digital prints of 19th century Russian Textiles. La Cage Aux Folles, which toured the UK this year—it was a lot of fun researching and recreating revue shows from the middle of the Twentieth Century, and Cilla the Musical, which is currently on tour. Many of the costumes are original 1960s vintage items which give the whole production a very authentic feel.

6. How do you like to accessorize your 3 piece tweed suits?

I’m a fan of Loake shoes. I have a couple of vintage pocket watches with fobs and different types of chains which I always wear in my waistcoats. I think they are flattering, cutting diagonally across the body and are always a conversation piece.

I have a large collection of hats—my favourites are from Christies in London and Sterkowksi, who are based in Poland. Braces I get from Thomas Farthing in Museum Street in Bloomsbury, and basic shirts I often buy from Gutteridges in Naples as they are so slimly tailored. My friend Tommy Page has a great vintage shop in Prinsenstraat, Amsterdam, for interesting vintage ties and other bits and pieces.

7. What is your ideal set up for a day of creativity?

I have a studio at home in Greenwich, London where I prepare the models and costume designs. I’ll get up at 8am, and do some yoga and stretches—I’m off caffeine at the moment so will have some turmeric tea—I’ll then walk the dogs in Greenwich Park. I have a Bedlington Whippet cross and a Border terrier. Around 10am I’ll start in the studio with my assistants. Mornings are often spent doing administration—there’s always a pile of things I need to deal with before I can start doing anything creative. We’ll work until 6pm, I’ll take the dogs out again and if it’s a nice evening maybe have a glass of cider at the Cutty Sark Tavern on the Thames. I’ll then go about cooking a vegetarian dinner for whoever is around.

8. Top 3 albums

I love classical, folk and electronic music so I can’t choose a top 3. I’m currently listening to La Clemenza di Tito by Mozart, Weber’s Der Freischütz, and My Fair Lady by Lerner and Loewe—all of which I’m working on next year in Vienna, Lausanne, and Naples respectively.

9. Top 3 fashion inspirations

George V and Steve McQueen, who always looked immaculate and Sir Tom Baker, a fantastic Soho-based tailor with whom I’m collaborating on an opera next year.

10. Top 3 places and why you love them

I was back in Edinburgh this week; it’s one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I’ve been shopping at Walker Slater for about 10 years so will always visit the store on Victoria Street. The beach at Camber Sands in Sussex; the light and sunsets are incredible there. And the Old Town in Hong Kong is uniquely atmospheric.

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