Es Devlin

Jun 4, 2012

Es Devlin’s life epitomizes the word ‘busy.’ The 41-year-old mother of two has a tight schedule: while events and appointments are planned years in advance, they also have a habit of popping up spontaneously, too. More often than not, the British designer will receive a phone call in the middle of the night then find herself on a plane the next morning. The destination can be New York, Los Angeles or any city where a superstar might take up residence.

Devlin designs productions for artists across a broad cultural spectrum. From crowd pullers such as Lady Gaga, Take That, Shakira, Rihanna and Kanye West to theatrical productions, opera performances and sporting events, including last summer’s London Olympics.

It is just after 10:00am and we are standing on the terrace of her home in London Peckham. Devlin points out some of the capital’s top sights, including the venues that have once been temporarily transformed by her creative vision. “Although it is not even a clear day, you can just about see Westminster Abbey – it is the building with the flag on top; over there is our first stop, The Royal Opera House; here you can see St. Paul’s cathedral; there is the London Eye; over there is the Olympic stadium, our second venue; and this is where we are going tonight – the O2 arena.”

We met Devlin in May 2012. At that time, she worked on the Closing Ceremony of the Olympics as well as on the opera Les Troyens, set to debut at the end of June 2012. Meanwhile this evening, she went checking out the design of Kanye West’s and Jay Z’s Watch the Throne tour, which she has been working on for about a year.

Before leaving, Devlin gives us a quick tour of her home, a converted jam factory. On the ground floor is the studio of her husband, Jack Galloway, a costume designer. In her own studio across the hall, Devlin pulls out file folders titled ‘Gaga’ and ‘Shakira,’ giving us a sense of the way she works. They contain sketches and references that form the basis of the 1:100 scale models decorating the white shelves in the room. There are miniature sets of The Brit Awards, Parsifal, Shakespeare, the Take That Progress Tour and Faust, as well as the first model she ever made – a boat that took her two weeks to build, back in 1994.

Read the full interview in the printed issue of Wertical.

Release: 2014.

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