I wonder what Milena Canonero was thinking when she shook the Oscar statuette after she deservedly won it for best costume design for Grand Hotel Budapest: She looked briefly at the audience, then much more at Wes Anderson, and gave a speech of generous humility (“… Thanks Wes, this is for you, I want to share it with you. You have been a great inspiration, you’re like a conductor, you are a composer, you are our director and you have been our inspiration. Without you I never could have done it … “) She climbed the stairs to return to her seat and applauded, politely and discreetly, the subsequent award winners. Certainly it is easy to imagine what many thought, here in Italy, in or aspiring to be in costume design, operators not part of the cinema machine that increasingly seems to be stuck: bless her for what she has done, bless her for her talent that she has been able to express and let everyone see. Brava, that she had the courage to leave.
After Clockwork Orange and The Shining, in fact, Milena Canonero worked on costumes for numerous successful films (among other: Out of Africa and Titus) without ever suffering any slowdown. Sofia Coppola wanted her to do Marie Antoinette (her most delicate accomplishment, the favorite of many), which enabled her to win her third Oscar after those for Barry Lyndon and Chariots of Fire and effectively delivered another pearl of an association (“To the pastel colors of the clothes and candy I was inspired by Laduree macaroons”). Yet, despite the deference of American directors, perhaps because of the deference of American directors, Milena Canonero has come back rarely to work in Italy (the Viceroy of Faenza and some theatrical collaboration with Ronconi), choosing instead to remain in Los Angeles and enjoy the freedom of a country that sniffs out talent and is not afraid of meritocracy.
Now it happens more and more often, moreover, that the Italians (but not only) will resort to overseas migration forced by the strength of their aspirations: if you want to achieve, at least if they want to attempt the realization of what most deeply burns, must give themselves the chance to take the risk elsewhere. The Bel Paese is not a place where dreams can adapt: it lacks oxygen, living space, investment. Art is a bogeyman to be left in a corner, and he who wants to make art is a utopian visionary who knows little of life and “how things are done in Italy.” Rarely is there a future for those who study the technique of costume design, or perceptions that become ideas, or for anyone who feels that life as it is, life without creativity, unfortunately is not enough. Either you follow the path of Milena Canonero, then, or you risk being buried within yourself. How striking is indeed another, ending: if by chance any of these talents decided to go to London after her studies, if by fate came to know a director like Stanley Kubrick, when she moved to the United States and with bravura won her four Oscars, then her country (especially the part that counts and neglected her for years before she emigrated), it would start to notice her. They would send her messages of congratulations, remark on her origins, her Italian creativity; probably would speak to her in some salon, with legs crossed, preening before that success as if it were also a little ‘theirs”; would cite that victory on many occasions, raising an eyebrow slightly, smiling slyly and happy about the unexpected prestige .
So why not do it before, why not do it now, why wait forever until others notice that Italian creativity is good for the world, when the world is allowed to see it. Why not invent new ways, other showcases, interesting competitions. Why not show off their talents when you have the opportunity (and responsibility) to highlight them personally?
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