Caroline wins ‘oscar’ for work on Downton Abbey
SUBLIMELY talented costume designer Caroline McCall was in Hollywood last week receiving an American ‘oscar’ for her expert work on Downton Abbey - a prize from the Costume Designer Guild of America for ‘Outstanding Period/Fantasy Television Series category.
The gala ceremony was in the world-famous Beverly Hills Hotel in the capital of the film world, and it follows the Emmy Award the former Portadown won last year as assistant costume designer with the first series of Downton, a prize she won in tandem with Susanna Buxton, the chief designer of Series One.
Caroline didn’t have time to remain in film capital of the world to soak up the atmosphere of the much-hyped Oscars - which were a few days after the Guild event - as she had to be back in London where she is working on the costumes of Downton 4, due to be screened next autumn.
This time, the award was for series three of the life and times of the Crawley family, and 35-year-old Caroline was the special guest at the table of Shirley MacLean, who played American relative Martha Levinson in Downton 3.
In accepting the award, Caroline – with typical modesty – said, “One of the great things about costume design is working with hugely-talented, creative makers and milliners, so thank you to them as well.” This was a reference to her Emmy with Susanna, after which she turned down the chance of the second series.
Caroline was appointed chief designer in series three, and her wonderful designs have taken America by storm – thus they singled her out for their top award.
Caroline was hard at work on the new series this week in London, and underlined what she owed to her colleague Susanna Buxton.
“She taught me so much and it was wonderful when we were both called out for Emmys in Los Angeles,” she said. “It was a magical day for both of us, and the producers of Downton were delighted for us. It was great to be nominated, let alone win it, and this latest award is the icing on the cake, with working on such a wonderful global series.”
A freelance designer, who trained with the Wimbledon School of Art and the BBC, Caroline has a welter of TV and film experience under her belt, including Little Dorrit and Dr Who with the Beeb, as well as blockbuster films like Liam Neeson’s Clash of the Titans 2.
And she worked on the recently-released film Hyde Park on Hudson, which recalled the visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to President Franklin D Roosevelt, which resulted in the USA entering the Second World War.
During the making of the various Downton Abbey series, Caroline built a close rapport with the brilliant Dame Maggie Smith, and with Shirley MacLean, who is as famous for her eccentricities as for her formidable acting.
Caroline’s mother Rosemary McCall, who still lives in Portadown, said, “Shirley really took to Caroline and included her on her ‘table guest’ list in Hollywood. They really gel together and I suppose Caroline was a little overawed by the occasions in California.
“She’s modest almost to a fault and we’re all very proud of her. She keeps getting these awards and it’ll do her CV no harm whatsoever.
“I go across regularly to London to see her, and I’m proud that she hasn’t lost her accent or her modesty.
“She loved art and design at school – it was by far her favourite subject. I can’t believe where it has led her.”
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