Life advice Tim Chappel on how it feels to win an Oscar.
In 1995, Australian designer TIM CHAPPEL won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design. Now 50, he relives the moment the envelope was opened and he heard his name
Iwas in a supermarket in LA with Lizzy [Gardiner, fellow Best Costume Design winner for The Adventures Of Priscilla,
Queen Of The Desert] at 4am when I found out we were nominated for an Oscar. Back then, you found out through the newspaper. We had set the alarm early and were so excited we didn’t even wait to get changed – we were still in pyjamas.
When we saw our names in print, we ran around screaming, much to the amusement of all the supermarket workers. I remember I called my mother, but mostly people were calling me. Everyone knew it was a possibility we’d get nominated, and I think Australia got the information the same time we did. So there was a feeling of joy all round.
On the day of the ceremony, we didn’t have a speech prepared as the odds weren’t in our favour. But we began to get rumblings of “maybe we have a chance” when the usher checked our names and told us, “Now you two, don’t move. You have to sit in your seats. Don’t swap with anybody.” We were on the aisle, and behind us were all the other costume-design nominees. One of them had on a huge dress and was about 15 seats in, so I knew she wasn’t going to win. The music would’ve started playing her off the stage before she was even on it!
When our names were called and we were standing in front of that audience, it was the most amazing moment of the
whole experience. Here’s a tip: if you’re going to win an Oscar, try to make sure there’s two of you. It allows you to have a moment where you can appreciate what’s happening while the other person is making their speech. While Lizzy was speaking, I looked out at the sea of faces. I expected them to be bored, but they were all super-excited. Oprah and Tom Cruise were looking straight into my eyes. It was like this energy loop spiralling up and I thought that at any moment I’d explode into a cloud of glitter.
In contrast, the after-party was a disaster. By the time we had finished doing press and gone to the Governor’s Ball, it was late. Then our limo driver didn’t know where the party was, and we basically got lost. It turned out the Elton John party was at our hotel. But I made up for it because, as an Oscar winner, I was invited to all the parties in the following years. I would rock up with the award – and pretend I’d won it that night. Tickets to Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert – The Musical are on sale now; priscillathemusical.com.au.