Yvonne Blake, Award-Winning Costume Designer, Is Dead at 78
Yvonne Blake, the British-born, Spanish-based costume designer who won an Oscar for Russian chinchilla-trimmed coats and grand military uniforms in “Nicholas and Alexandra” and science-fiction immortality for superhero and supervillain ensembles in “Superman,” died on Tuesday in Madrid. She was 78.
The death was announced by the Spanish Film Academy, which said Ms. Blake had a stroke in January. Ms. Blake, who lived in Spain with her husband, Gil Carretero, a Spanish screenwriter and director, had been the academy’s president until then.
Ms. Blake shared her 1971 Academy Award for “Nicholas and Alexandra,” a drama about Russia’s ruling family, the Romanoffs, with Antonio Castillo. “If it wasn’t for the Russian Revolution, I wouldn’t be here,” she said when she accepted her award.
Her most recognizable work, however, was for “Superman” (1978) and its 1980 sequel. She did her original sketches before Christopher Reeve was cast as Superman, calling for a “leotard in shimmering blue two-way stretch fabric worn over false muscles and harness for flying.”
For Marlon Brando, who played Superman’s father, Jor-El, she chose a reflective material called 3M, recommended by the director of photography and used for making movie-theater screens. The only problem was that it turned black when bare hands touched it, so crew members had to wear white cotton gloves.