Jenny Beavan says ‘bag lady’ comments at 2016 Baftas were ‘absolutely fine’

Jenny Beavan says comments made about her outfit at the 2016 Bafta awards ceremony gave her an “understanding of what film stars go through”.

The three-time Oscar-winning costume designer said the remarks by actor and comedian Stephen Fry were “absolutely fine” and had done her nothing but good.

At the ceremony, Beavan collected the award for best costume design for her work on Mad Max: Fury Road, wearing a casual leather jacket and a scarf.

BAFTA Film Awards 2016 – Press Room – London
At the 2016 Bafta ceremony, Beavan collected the award for best costume design, wearing a casual leather jacket from Marks and Spencer (Ian West/PA)

Fry joked that “only one of the great’s of cinematic costume design would come to an awards ceremony dressed as a bag lady”.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, Beavan discussed her childhood, how she was brought up in a happy and musical family as well as her unlikely friendship with Joe Lycett, who briefly stayed with her and her daughter.

Asked about Fry’s Bafta comment, which prompted a series of tabloid headlines, she replied: “I didn’t hear it, because I was already backstage and I love Stephen.

“And I love the fact he said that, of course I had my shirt tails hanging out – I thought it was just an absolutely fine thing to say. I didn’t think it took me anything but good, really.”

The 88th Academy Awards – Press Room – Los Angeles
Beavan is a three-time Oscar winning costume designer (Ian West/PA)

She continued: “What was interesting was actually understanding what film stars go through, just having a moment of learning what it feels like to be recognised on the street.

“It died down very quickly though, it was all fine.”

Beavan revealed that at one point there had even been a journalist hiding in her hedge, who had jumped out to corner her.

On her own fashion choices, she has said previously: “I love dressing others and I know how to make them look beautiful on screen, but I’ve never wanted that kind of look for myself.”

The designer has won three best costume design Oscars; in 1987 for A Room With A View, in 2016 for Mad Max: Fury Road, and in 2022 for Disney’s Cruella – starring Emma Stone.

She is nominated for a fourth time this year for the same award for her work on Mrs Harris Goes To Paris.

Beavan described her work on Cruella as “very quick” and “another sort of rescue mission”, but revealed that she had been given more time for the project after Stone had broken her collarbone while dancing at a Spice Girls concert.

“I just said ‘so long as you’re not in too much pain we are so grateful’, because it actually gave us another six weeks and we’d been going such a speed that we just kept the thing up,” she said.

“That really, really helped I think put a lot of the detail in what would have been a bit tricky otherwise.”

Desert Island Discs airs on Sunday on BBC Sounds and BBC Radio 4, at 11.15am.