James Acheson made a long career of designing costumes for those whose job it is to save the world: Doctor Who, Spider-Man, and Superman. By the transitive property, he's responsible for the continued survival of ... Read more »
James Acheson made a long career of designing costumes for those whose job it is to save the world: Doctor Who, Spider-Man, and Superman. By the transitive property, he's responsible for the continued survival of humanity. Acheson worked as a costume designer for decades, his imaginative costumes becoming a staple in period films and superhero movies. The designer was born on March 13, 1946 in Leicester, England. Soon after graduating from the Wimbledon School of Art, Acheson began designing costumes for small British television shows before landing a regular gig as the designer for the iconic "Doctor Who" (BBC 1963-1989) in the '70s. Acheson was responsible for Tom Baker's iconic striped scarf; Whovian legend (and Acheson's testimony) has it that Acheson bought the yarn and asked a friend to knit it exactly as he envisioned. Dressing the time-traveling doctor was his big break into period costume design. After "Doctor Who," Acheson graduated to the big screen. His sumptuous work on "The Last Emperor" (1987), starring Peter O'Toole, earned him his first Academy Award. Acheson said that the win was the proudest moment of his career. He later won Oscars for his decadently French "Dangerous Liaisons" (1988) costumes and for the star-studded British period drama "Restoration" (1995). On a more modern note, Acheson was responsible for the Spidey suit in the millennial reboot of "Spider-Man" (2002). According to Acheson, Tobey Maguire's claustrophobia made it difficult for him to wear the entire suit, so he was often shot wearing only part of it. Acheson has said that he often likes to work closely with actors while he's designing to ensure that his costumes will be a good fit (in multiple senses of the word). He also updated Superman's garb for the "Man of Steel" (2013) reboot, trading tights and undies for a streamlined and muscular silhouette and muted, moodier colors.