Alan Hranitelj attended the School for the Visual Arts in his hometown of Zagreb, Croatia, and has been living in Slovenia since1985, when he went to Ljubljana to design the makeup for a production of the play Baptism Under Triglav.
He did briefly design haute couture collections in Milan in the early 1990s, but quickly returned to the world of theatre in Slovenia where he designed makeup and costumes for stage and film productions. He regards his work as the antithesis of fashion, defining himself simply as a costume designer. Yet his designs are works of art in their own right, pieces of sculpture even.
Between1987 and 2010, Alan designed the costumes for about 200 projects, notably for solo and group exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, Ljubljana (1991), the Municipal Gallery, Ljubljana (1991-1995) and the European Cultural Capital 96 event in Copenhagen (1996). In 2000 his work was featured in a movement-theatre performance and fashion show at the Millennium Dome, London. He has designed the costumes for many classical and modern theatre and opera productions directed by such prominent Slovenian directors as Vito Taufer, Mateja Koležnik, Diego de Brea, Matjaž Berger and Meta Hočevar.
Alan’s work method is to interact closely with actors, singers and performers. He doesn’t just present them with a fait accompli and tell them, “this is your costume.” He prefers to take the time to find out who they are, what they like, what makes them comfortable, what makes them tick, then apply all that information to their costumes.
One of the toughest challenges Alan faced on Zarkana (his first association with Cirque du Soleil) was to mesh the predominance of white in the color palette of some costumes with the darker tones of the show. “It’s a paradox, for sure,” he says, “but it’s also been stimulating and rewarding to come up with an approach that reconciles two such seemingly contradictory elements.”
“Details make a costume come to life and give it added depth,” he says. “That can be very important to the person wearing it, because it helps animate their performance. Something as apparentlinsignificant as a pocket might give an artist an entire repertoire of small gestures that help to define his or her character – even if it isn’t obvious to the audience.”
Alan Hranitelj was born in Zagreb, Croatia, but now lives and creates in Ljubljana, Slovenia.