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Life Journeys: Alexandra Byrne in Conversation

SUN 23 APR 2023 | 4:15PM

4 Richmond Mews
London, W1D 3DH

Alexandra Byrne, whose designs for film, television, theatre and even ballet have won her wide international recognition, will be in conversation with writer and curator Keith Lodwick to talk about her rich and intense career.

The Conversation will be followed by a screening of the film Elizabeth, which this year celebrates its 25th anniversary.


dir: Shekhar Kapur
with Cate Blanchett, Joseph Fiennes, Emily Mortimer, Kelly Macdonald, Jamie Foreman, Edward Hardwicke, Christopher Eccleston

Costume Design: Alexandra Byrne

UK | 1998 | 124 min | cert. R

Shekhar Kapur’s memorable film about the early years of the reign Elizabeth I of England remains a great insight into the dificulties and court intrigues the English queen had to learn to survive.

Alexandra Byrne’s costumes stand out and, rather than strict historical accuracy, they communicate emotion with a wonderful use of embroidery and fabrics like rich velvets, satins and brocades.

The film won Cate Blanchett her first Academy Award nomination for Best Actress and Alexandra Byrne her second for Best Costume Design.


Costume Designer Alexandra Byrne trained as an architect at Bristol University before studying Theatre Design on the Motley Course at the English National Opera under the legendary Margaret Harris.

She has worked extensively in television and theater, both as a set and costume designer. Her television credits include Roger Michell’s Persuasion, for which she received the BAFTA Award for Best Costume Design, and The Buddha of Suburbia, for which she received a BAFTA nomination and RTS award.

In theater, Alexandra received a Tony nomination for Best Set Design for Some Americans Abroad, which transferred from the Royal Shakespeare Company to the Lincoln Center in New York. Following on from her work in theater, Alexandra designed the costumes for Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet, for which she gained her first Oscar nomination.

Other credits include Phantom of the Opera, Sleuth and The Garden of Eden. She received two further Oscar nominations for her costumes in Elizabeth and Finding Neverland. Elizabeth, The Golden Age finally won her the Oscar.

Alexandra worked with Kenneth Branagh again on Thor, her first production with Marvel, and won the Saturn Award. She then followed on to work with Joss Whedon on Marvel’s The Avengers. After designing costumes for Warner’s 300, Rise of an Empire, Byrne returned to Marvel for James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy, and to work again with Joss Whedon on Avengers, Age of Ultron (Saturn Award), followed by Doctor Strange, directed by Scott Derrickson, for which she won the CDG Award. She then reunited with Kenneth Branagh for Murder on the Orient Express. Alexandra has designed the costumes for Mary Queen of Scots (Oscar nominated) and Emma, directed by Autumn de Wilde, both with Working Title Films, and has completed work with Kevin Macdonald on Prisioner 760 and with Andy Muschietti on Warner Brother’s The Flash. Most recently Alexandra designed the costumes for Empire of Light, directed by Sam Mendes. She is currently designing costumes for Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella with the Royal Ballet.

Alexandra is married to the actor Simon Shepherd, and they have four children.



Keith Lodwick is a curator, writer, and historian. He is the former Curator of Theatre and Screen Arts at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. At the V&A, Keith curated Vivien Leigh: Public Faces, Private Lives and was the V&A assistant curator for the major exhibition Hollywood Costume, one of the most successful exhibitions in the museum’s history. Keith has contributed to a wide range of publications including Oliver Messel: In the Theatre of Design, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty and Shoe Reels: The History and Philosophy of Footwear in Film.

Special thanks to:

John Smedley
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