Headline-grabbing Oscars outfit to be auctioned for #SaveProspectCottage

Costume designer Sandy Powell joins a long list of creatives backing the campaign to protect filmmaker Derek Jarman’s Dungeness home

Sandy Powell with Janelle Monáe signing her suit at the 2020 Oscars
Sandy Powell with Janelle Monáe signing her suit at the 2020 Oscars | Image: © Sandy Powell/Instagram

“My Bafta nomination for The Irishman this year was such a surprise, but I didn’t know what to wear,” says Oscar-winning costume designer Sandy Powell, whose previous film credits include Shakespeare in Love and The Favourite. In the end, the suit she wore was among the most noticeable outfits at both the Baftas and the Oscars. “I decided to wear the toile, the calico pattern, made by Ian Frazer Wallace for my Bowie-inspired suits. It started as a blank canvas.” 

Leonardo DiCaprio signs the suit
Leonardo DiCaprio signs the suit | Image: © Sandy Powell/Instagram
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At both events, Powell asked more than 200 of the film world’s finest to sign her suit, and collected the autographs of directors, actors and other luminaries, including Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Scarlett Johansson, Brad Pitt, Renée Zellweger, Bong Joon-Ho, Joaquin Phoenix and Leonardo DiCaprio. The suit is now heading to auction, online with Phillips, and is on view at the house’s Berkeley Square HQ from 4 to 11 March. “I hope whoever buys it enjoys it,” says Powell. “But it would be really lovely if it were loaned to a museum so it can be seen by many people.” Proceeds will go towards the Art Fund public appeal #SaveProspectCottage, set up to raise £3.5m to protect the Dungeness home of visionary filmmaker, artist and activist Derek Jarman (1942-1994), who was Powell’s “first director [Caravaggio, 1986], friend and mentor”.

Renée Zellweger signs
Renée Zellweger signs | Image: © Sandy Powell/Instagram
Powell’s signed suit ahead of its auction at Phillips
Powell’s signed suit ahead of its auction at Phillips | Image: Viceroy-house.com

The black timber Victorian fisherman’s hut, and the remarkable garden coaxed from the windswept shingle, is set to be sold following the death in 2018 of Jarman’s close companion Keith Collins, to whom he bequeathed the cottage. “Prospect Cottage is a living, breathing work of art, filled with Jarman’s creative impulses at every turn,” says Art Fund director Stephen Deuchar. “It’s imperative we come together to save it.” 

A donation of £1,250 will be rewarded with an Isaac Julien boxed set of five prints depicting Prospect Cottage
A donation of £1,250 will be rewarded with an Isaac Julien boxed set of five prints depicting Prospect Cottage | Image: © Isaac Julien
A donation of £650 will be rewarded with a Wolfgang Tillmans print of John Donne/Agave, Berlin Collage
A donation of £650 will be rewarded with a Wolfgang Tillmans print of John Donne/Agave, Berlin Collage | Image: © Wolfgang Tillmans

A partnership between Art Fund, Creative Folkestone and Tate would enable guided tours of the cottage for the public and, says Powell, “turn it into a residency for younger filmmakers, artists, writers and activists. Derek was so generous and inspiring to young people; this will continue his legacy.”

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Major grants from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Art Fund and The Linbury Trust, as well as private donations, have already taken the campaign three quarters of the way towards its target. Donations can be made on the #SaveProspectCottage crowdfunding page on artfund.org, with rewards including a Michael Craig-Martin special-edition print of Prospect Cottage and its distinctive yellow-painted window frames (£100) and a signed Wolfgang Tillmans photograph of an agave plant (£650), with words from John Donne’s poem The Sun Rising, which appears on the wall of the cottage in Jarman’s handwriting.

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