Riveting Riffs Logo One Ana Muñozo - Costume Designer - Film and Theater
Ana Munozo Costume Designer Photo Two

Ana Munozo Photo OneCostume designer Ana Muñozo has designed for productions in theater and film, in both Barcelona, Spain and in New York City. She has lectured at Fordham University in the United States and UNED University in Spain. Although, she is a designer, you discover while in conversation with her that she is part costume designer, with a bit of director, a dash of screenwriter and with an affinity for actors and actresses.

Ana Muñozo studied fashion design and in fact spent four years at the beginning of her career in the industry and established a fashion brand with some colleagues.  

“On white fabric we hand painted the prints ourselves and we made a color chart for every season.

We designed accessories such as ties, fans, umbrellas, scarves and dresses. Actually, the original idea were nightshirts, I remember when I showed them to a client, she told me that she saw them as dresses and I said, "as long as you sell it, I don't care if they wear it to dinner or to dream." We did everything ourselves, the boxes, the labels, they were exclusive and on the label the client could see the number of the series. (There might be) a series of fifteen and you bought number four, therefore you knew that there were only fifteen of that model. We did fashion shows in different places like the international "fashion cafe" and we also participated in some collective exhibitions. I also worked at different times as a stylist for several publications,” she says.

Ana Muñozo grew up with her parents and one older sister in a rural area outside of Barcelona, before they moved into the city.

Her ties to both the fashion world and theater run several generations deep, “My mom was an excellent tailor. I grew up surrounded by buttons, fabrics and sewing.

My great-great grandfather and his siblings acted in his village since the theater companies did not go there. His brothers were the actors, and he was the promoter. This was the connection my family has with art and fashion,” Ana Muñozo explains.

She continues, recalling, “I spent most of my time drawing. I was drawing all day and then I decided to draw clothes for my dolls. My mother made dresses for my dolls, but she wanted to know what I had drawn. My mother made the dresses that she wanted, but I said mom! (you can hear the childlike inflection in her voice as she recalls)! She sewed what she wanted. They were beautiful but different than my (drawings).”

During her teenage years, “If I said to my mother for example, I want a jacket for this weekend, my mother would make it for me in a day. It was incredible.

I was influenced by the fashion of the moment, but I never wanted to have to wear my designs. This is weird. I think this is weird. I think in that moment I didn’t know what I wanted to be. When I had my first job, as a costume designer then I realized I wanted to be a costume designer not a fashion designer.”

As for what attracted Ana Muñozo to a career in costume design she says, “When you design costumes for a movie or for the theater you can feel the story! (You can hear the excitement in her voice), and you can feel the characters. That is the reason that I love my job, my profession. It is not only designing the costumes, but I have to know the characters’ lives. Do they like to smoke? I have to know the geography. I have to know everything. I have to know each character in the film. You have to be a psychologist. You have to know each thing about the character. I love my profession.

When you design clothes for fashion it is absolutely different. You design what you feel in that moment or that you feel about society.

I love to visualize different stories and different worlds and that is the reason why I prefer to design costumes.”

As for how she got into film Ana Muñozo says, “I was doing a textile stamping course and I was between Barcelona and the city of Zaragoza, where I was designing a costume and a colleague told me that her partner was a cinematographer in cinema and asked if she could give my card to her partner. I said why not? That’s my motto in all the opportunities that life has given me and (continues) to give me. At that time, they needed a costume designer to shoot the last part of a film. The previous designer for health problems could not continue. I learned a lot. It was the first time I read a script. I have been a self-taught, I learned types of shots and lighting because that part of the film would be in black and white, I learned how to characterize clothes and shoes. The name of the film was torturados por las rosas by Eugenia Kleber.”

We wondered if Ana Muñozo prefers designing clothes for period pieces or modern productions whether in film or theater and she says, “This is a difficult question, because with every project you have an opportunity and I have a goal for each project.

I work a lot with colors, because for me each color has a meaning. If you have a project that is historical everyone says I love this project and it is an opportunity for costume design, but you have to take care, because in these cases I do a lot of research,” she illustrates her point, “I had a project where in that period of time the costumes did not have zippers, so you can’t use a zipper. That is very important, because the costume is the first contact with the audience.

For the film Skin of the Wolf, I had a lot of work to do, because I wanted to create real clothes and not a costume. I worked with cotton for the majority of the material, because that what was available in that period.

What is most important for these kinds of projects is research. I go to the museums and talk with the people there. I think if the actors have the real fabrics from that moment (in time) they can feel the characters better. I talk to the actors to find out how they feel about their characters, and I always give them their costumes several days before the shooting. Ana Munozo Photo Four

When you have these kinds of projects you have to do a lot of research. You have to be honest with that period. If you make a mistake the audience will think I don’t believe this story. I don’t like this movie. I think this is very important, because we work as a team. It is not only the work of the costume designer or the director or the photographer or the actors. We have to work together, because we have the same goal. The audience must love or hate the characters.”

Then flashing her great sense of humor, she says, “We have to help the audience with the suspension of disbelief. The audience has to believe the story. Imagine if you watched Superman with a zipper! Oh my god this is not Superman, this is my hero with a zipper.

The costume may be iconic. It is possible later a person may say I liked this character, because he always wore a red jacket. People don’t say this is the costume of Ana Muñozo, but people believe the story and they believe that the jacket is not a costume. For me this is important.”

Asked to recall some particularly difficult challenges, Ana Muñozo says, “My first work was a big challenge, because I had no idea about the film industry. I learned a lot. It was set in medieval times, and I had total freedom to design. I even designed the shoes. We made a suit with metal shavings, and a cape was made with fish scales that were sewn by hand. Another suit was hand painted.

You always have the opportunity to do something different. I don’t want to say well we have the script, and the costumes are very easy. No. I don’t want to think that way. We have to think about details. This is difficult, but this is good for the project.”

Ana Munoz takes a moment to walk us through her approach to designing costumes, “I do not know if every costume designer is the same, but when I receive the script, I read it and start my creative process. For example, the director will say this story occurs in 1915 and in this country and in this place. All of the departments have to (be on the same page).

It is very important to me to have a lot of information. When I first meet with a director, I say I will read the script and then we will have a meeting. In this meeting we travel together, and he or she is my guide. In this journey I imagine everything and every character. In that moment I realize that I have it and it is magical.

Ana Munozo Photo SevenThe directors have told me they like me as a designer, because I listen to every detail that he or she explains to me in our meeting.

For the film The Skin of the Wolf, directed by Samu Fuentes and starring Mario Casas and Irene Escolar it was set in the 1930s in a mountain village. The story is about a hunter who lives alone in an abandoned village. Twice a year he goes to another village to sell furs and buy food.

The first step was to do a lot of research. I collaborated with a museum in the United States, and they provided me with photographs that they had from that time and that were in their archives. I was looking specifically for mountain areas with snow and where there were hunters at that time.

After the meeting with the director, where my journey to creativity began. I designed the first sketches. I looked for natural materials, because it is very important to be faithful to the period so that the audience believes the story. All of the pants and skirts were closed with buttons. Once the director gave his opinion, I started to work because there was a lot of handwork. It was a lot of work to make the boots. They had to look like they were from that time, and they had to look like he made them himself with the skins of animals that he hunted. We transformed a snow boot into boots from that time. The clothes the character wore were from before the 1930s, because I thought he would be wearing clothes (he found) in the abandoned houses. Everything about him was hand dyed. I even hand painted a handkerchief with a unique print for one character. We made two pairs of boots for each protagonist because we were shooting in the mountains in the snow and anything unexpected could happen. You can see the results on Netflix.

Sometimes other designers create from a different perspective, but when I design, I imagine a fantasy world with this character and from that world I (design) the costumes.

The directors say they like my ideas, because when they explain everything to me I (use my imagination). It is possible that the director does not have this particular costume in mind.”

Comparing designing costumes for theater versus film Ana Muñozo says, “When you design for the theater you have a stage and the audience is at a distance so you have to make the details bigger, so they can see them. You also make use of colors, because this is a show. You have to think about getting the attention of the audience.

On the other hand, in the cinema you have to work very hard on the details, because the public watches the images closely and they must believe the story. (For film) the camera is like the eyes of the audience. You therefore have to work in a different way. When people watch film, they feel, and they want to believe the story. They want to feel the character.”

As for moving her career to New York City she says, “I moved to New York in 2018, I had previously been in the city but made the decision in 2016. I had some contacts there and I love working with an international team. When I was asked could I move to work in the United States, you know my answer, I said why not? I wanted to improve my career and work in (the place with) the biggest film and theater industry. In Europe people play a lot of football (soccer) and it is not the same to play in your neighborhood leagues as it is to play in the Champions League.

Then when the COVID pandemic started I went back to Barcelona, because I thought it was better to stay in my city with my family and friends.”

What does Ana Muñozo pass on to her students?

“I focus on the creative process in film styling, as it is one of the most important parts of my job and it is my favorite part. It is my passion to live that process.

We have two parts. One part is the creative process and the other part in the film industry is when you have the shooting. It is very different, and I love the creative process. I focus on both parts in my lectures.

I share with the students how I am inspired. I take inspiration from music, from sounds, from smells. The lectures at university are amazing and the students enjoyed them. They (the students) participated a lot. I like when they can feel what I feel when I work. I want them to feel how passionate I am about my career.

I tell my students they have to enjoy themselves, have passion for what they do and at the same time be very professional and above all work as a team so that the result of the project is excellent.”

Ana Muñozo has traveled a long way both in distance and in her journey as a costume designer, from that little girl who sketched clothes for her dolls.

“That girl who had passion and wanted to make each design unique, is the one that makes me have the motto of “risky becomes iconic. “Thanks to that girl, I haven’t left the profession during difficult times,” she says.      

You can follow Ana Muñozo on Instagram here.  You can also watch Ana Muñozo's showreel here.        Return to Our Front Page

#AnaMunozoEntrevista #AnaMunozoInterview #AnaMunozoCostumeDesigner #RivetingRiffsMagazine #RivetingRiffs #RivetingRiffsRevista #CostumeDesignerFilm #CostumeDesignerTheater #CostumeDesignerNYC #DiseñadorDeVestuarioBCN #DiseñadorDeVestuarioBarcelona

This interview by Joe Montague  published September 6th, 2021 is protected by copyright © and is the property of Riveting Riffs Magazine All Rights Reserved.  All photos are the the property of the producers of Ana Muñozo unless otherwise noted and all  are protected by copyright © All Rights Reserved. This interview may not be reproduced in print or on the internet or through any other means without the written permission of Riveting Riffs Magazine.