The Look Of Indy

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Deborah Nadoolman got the gig of designing the iconic Indy costume based on a rather surprising film. "Steven had seen Animal House, which I worked on, and loved it," she remembers. "That's how I got the call for 1941 [Spielberg's previous film to Raiders of the Lost Ark]... then just carrying on after 1941 I went to Chicago to design The Blues Brothers and then I came home and got this call from Steven saying, 'Listen, I have this project and I want you to design it and we're going to have Karen Allen from Animal House as the leading lady - would you do it?'" Nadoolman then went on to create one of cinema's most iconic outfits and ever-reliable fancy dress get up. Here she talks us through how she created the look of Indy.

"Here I had a character who I knew had to live in a fedora for the entirety of the film - what's a cinematographer going to do to light Harrison's eyes?... I went down to [London hatter] Herbert Johnson. They had a model called the Australian, which was silly because it snapped up on one side - that was completely the wrong thing. I thought, except for the chinstrap and the brim and the very wide hat and the brow this is absolutely the right style that I wanted. Harrison tried it on and with much shortening of the brim and much lowering of the crown, we created something entirely new. Once I gave my specs to Herbert Johnson, they were able to create an entirely new hat for me, which became the Indiana Jones hat. I worked on creasing the brow the right way and we took something that was entirely different, a Paul Hogan special, and made something completely different out of it. I think what disappointed me the most is that I never got the credit for making something new out of a Paul Hogan hat. It didn't exist, we made an entirely new hat."

"With something like Raiders Of The Lost Ark, where we knew there would be these big action sequences, I knew from the beginning that I had to design the jacket. The jacket for me was the primary piece of clothing and it had to be something that Harrison looked like he lived in, that he had all the pockets in all the places that he needed to stick things inside and out. We knew that he had to have a whip, so at the back there had to be a deep pleat on either side from the shoulder to the hip, which is called an 'action back'... I wanted to keep the silhouette very narrow at the hip and very broad at the shoulders because, of course, that's what heroes look like - it's no different from Superman."

"The art of costume design is, by necessity, invisible. It just takes a tremendous amount of time to get it right. With the hat, it's not just bashing it in, it's sitting on it, rolling it up and also acting on it with grease, with dog hair, spraying it with mineral oil to make it look matted. There are all sorts of techniques to get it right - a little bit of ketchup helps. I really think you need to get it to a point where all of that reads on camera... With the jacket, [for the first day of shooting] it had not been aged properly. So the entire day before I was sitting at the pool with Harrison and Karen and Steven and [executive producer] Howard Kazanjian and George and I personally aged that jacket, the first Indiana Jones jacket ever, using Harrison Ford's Swiss army knife and a metal brush that I got from props."

"One of the first things that we did was that [Steven Spielberg] showed me Secret Of The Incas, which was a Paramount movie made in 1954. It's very much what Raiders Of The Lost Ark is based on. The character that Charlton Heston plays in that movie, Harry Steele, has a lot of the components of Indiana Jones. It's very, very close to Raiders Of The Lost Ark, the only difference is - and it's a huge difference - is that Charlton Heston's character is really a jerk; he's a cold, conniving smuggler of ancient objects, there's absolutely no warmth there, he is not a hero, whereas the character of Indiana Jones certainly is a hero, he certainly cares about the mystery and magic of the places that he goes to. So we started talking about Saturday morning serials, we were looking at Alan Ladd movies from the Forties and Fifties. In fact, one of the wonderful things that I own is a sketch that Steven did of the character of Indiana Jones, it looks like a boy of 12's idea of what Indiana Jones should look like with the hat and the jacket, it's lovely."

"The way to define an icon is that you can recognise the icon from the shadow. Whether it's Charlie Chaplin or Laurel And Hardy or The Blues Brothers or Indiana Jones or Marilyn standing on the grate with the dress blowing, you can define them by their shadow. Everyone knows who that person is by the shadow and I think that's happened to Indiana Jones. The other thing that is when I walk into a room or if I'm teaching or if I'm speaking on a panel about costume design and I ask everyone to close their eyes and imagine that character, everyone can. Now if I ask them who designed it, certainly no one knows my name, but everyone knows this person and can recognise them by their shadow. I'm very proud of that."

"Indiana Jones has a very tight colour palette. In other words, it's not accidental that he wears earth tones; it's not accidental in the film when you see him as a professor and he's wearing brown tweed with glasses. We tried to keep him accessible, vulnerable, warm, attractive. He's sexy but not cold or frightening. Somebody once said about Clark Gable that he was a man that men wanted to be and that women wanted to be with, that was my feeling and my take about Indiana Jones... It's all the colour of the earth. Because he digs, it's his camouflage. I wanted Indiana Jones to be able to disappear into the earth. It suits him in his detective work, it suits him when he wants to disappear from intruders."

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