Renée April inherited her taste for fine fabrics, especially brocades and sumptuous velvets, from her seamstress mother, and began designing clothes at the age of twelve. After completing her training in theatre at the Collège Lionel-Groulx near Montreal in 1974, she started her career in set decoration, but quickly turned to costume design.
Renée has worked on some of the best-known recent American and Canadian films, including Blindness (2008) directed by Fernando Mereilles, Night at the Museum (2006) directed by Shawn Levy, The Day After Tomorrow (2004) by Ray Emmerich, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002) by George Clooney, who also starred, and Black Robe (1991) directed by Bruce Beresford. She also designed the costumes for The Red Violin (1998) directed by François Girard, writer and director of ZED.
Renée April has received numerous prizes and awards for her work, including three Gemini Awards (Canada), three Genie Award (Canada), including Best Costume Design for The Red Violin, and a Jutra Award (Quebec) for Best Art Direction on the same film.
"I always prefer works that project the viewer into a distant era,” says Renée. “Even though that calls for more in-depth research, I am not trying to replicate the era in great detail. I always concentrate more on an interpretation of it."
ZED is the first Cirque du Soleil productionRenée has worked on. "The experience of designing the costumes for this show is completely different from film work,” she says. “In film, you’re constantly in a rush. I make a pattern, and two days later the costume is on the cutting table. But on ZED I made 500 to 600 sketches, that had to take into account the extra demands that the acrobats’ flexibility, movements and harnesses add to the challenge.”
ZED is the meeting of two worlds: the sky – where iridescent colors, paler shades and pearl and silver predominate – and the earth, which recalls the Italian Renaissance, with an emphasis on ochre, green, intense turquoise, gold and Venetian blue. “I was aiming for a certain homogeneity and purity of line in keeping with the visual world of François Girard," explains Renée.