Derry woman Lorna Mugan admits she’s still on a high just weeks after being nominated for an Emmy award. It’s a massive boost for the costume designer from the Culmore Road who has more than established herself in one of the most highly competitive industries in the world.
A former Thornhill and Carnhill Primary School pupil, Lorna is the daughter of former Carnhill Primary School vice principal Theresa Mugan and Arts Council worker Daniel Mugan.
Currently based in Dublin, the prolific designer has seen her talents put to use in a string of Irish films and television series and has previously been nominated for five Irish Film and Television Awards.
She admits however that news of the Emmy nomination has been the highlight of her career to date.
“I’m hugely excited about it,” she says.
“It’s all so random. I suppose as a costume designer you work away and you don’t really think about awards or your work being recognised in such a big way so it was quite a surprise to learn that I’d been nominated.”
Lorna is nominated in the category of ‘outstanding costumes for a mini series, movie or special’ for her work on Sky 1 hit ‘Treasure Island’ starring Eddie Izzard.
Her most recent work has been on BBC1 drama ‘Ripper Street’ and she also designed the costumes for ‘Shadow Dancer’, a film set in 1990s Belfast, which is currently showing in local cinemas.
After finishing school at Thornhill, Lorna went on to the Wimbledon School of Art where she graduated with a degree in Theatre Design. After some initial work with the Field Day Theatre Company, she gradually found her way into the field of costume design and has been working in the area for the past 17 years. She designed costumes for the popular 90s comedy hit ‘East is East’, Irish film ‘Intermission’ starring Colin Farrell as well as the film adaptation of Maeve Binchy’s ‘Tara Road’. The former Carnhill Primary School pupil also designed a string of popular dramas including ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’ and ‘The Bomb Maker.’
“My work comes in avalanches and droughts,” she laughs, commenting on the unpredictable nature of life in the entertainment industry.
“I’ve had points where it’s been quiet but generally I’ve been very lucky and I’ve built up good connections.”
Dismissing any ideas that her work is glamorous, the Emmy nominated designer explains how the job is a demanding one which is done far away from the glamour of the red carpet.
“First of all I read the script and a lot of research has to be done with the whole team. It is a very collaborative process but there are also quite solitary periods where I’m just working alone. It’s a very practical job and the day to day existence for most people on set, including the actors, is quite unglamorous.”
Lorna is delighted that her latest work on the film ‘Shadow Dancer’ has now hit the big screen. The film has been described as a gripping thriller which takes the viewer deep into the bitterly divided world of Northern Ireland in the 90s.
Lorna, who has worked on location in Spain, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico said it was great to design for a film which was so close to home. “I knew quite a few of the crew and I’d grown up here in the 90s so of course it made designing it different from other jobs I’ve done. I really enjoyed it and it’s a great film.”
As ‘Shadow Dancers’ pulls in audiences across the UK, Lorna is already looking towards future projects. In the meantime, she’s looking forward to enjoying her first Emmy nomination, but won’t be wearing one of her own custom made pieces.
“I haven’t designed the dress I’ll be wearing to the ceremony, that’s been left to someone else,” she laughs.