A biography profile photo of Catherine Martin

Catherine Martin: The Oscar-Winning Wife of Baz Luhrmann

Catherine Martin is a renowned Australian costume designer, production designer, and set designer. She is also the wife of filmmaker Baz Luhrmann, with whom she has collaborated on several acclaimed movies, such as Moulin Rouge!, The Great Gatsby, and Australia. Martin has won four Academy Awards, six BAFTA Awards, and a Tony Award for her work, making her one of the most decorated Australian artists of all time. But who is Catherine Martin, and how did she become the creative force behind some of the most visually stunning films of the 21st century? Here are some facts about her life and career that you may not know.

Early Life and Education

Martin was born on January 26, 1965, in Lindfield, New South Wales, to a French mother and an Australian father, both academics who met at the Sorbonne in Paris. She and her brother grew up in Sydney but spent a lot of time with their grandparents in France’s Loire Valley, visiting art galleries and museums. Martin developed a passion for fashion and design from an early age, inspired by her grandmother’s vintage clothing parades and the costumes in movies like The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind. She learned to sew at age 6 and started making her own dresses at age 15.

Martin studied at the Sydney College of the Arts and the East Sydney Technical College before enrolling in the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), where she met her future husband, Baz Luhrmann, in 1988. She completed a Diploma Design Course at NIDA and graduated with honors.

Career Breakthrough

Martin’s first major film credit was on Luhrmann’s feature directorial debut, Strictly Ballroom (1992), a romantic comedy about competitive ballroom dancing. Martin designed the costumes and the sets for the film, creating a colorful and flamboyant aesthetic that matched the tone and style of Luhrmann’s vision. The film was a critical and commercial success, winning several awards, including two BAFTAs for Best Costume Design and Best Production Design.

Martin continued to work with Luhrmann on his next two films, Romeo + Juliet (1996) and Moulin Rouge! (2001), which formed the “Red Curtain Trilogy” of theatrical and musical films. Martin’s role expanded to include producing and co-writing, as well as designing the costumes and the sets. She received her first Oscar nomination for art direction for Romeo + Juliet, a modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s play set in a fictional Verona Beach. She then won her first two Oscars for costume design and production design for Moulin Rouge!, a musical extravaganza set in the bohemian Paris of the 1890s.

Further Successes

Martin and Luhrmann took a break from filmmaking after Moulin Rouge! and moved to New York, where they worked on various projects, including a Broadway adaptation of La Bohème, for which Martin won a Tony Award for scenic design in 2003. They also launched their own production company, Bazmark Films, and their own lifestyle brand, House of Iona, which sells home furnishings, wallpaper, rugs, and fabrics.

Martin returned to the big screen with Luhrmann’s epic historical drama, Australia (2008), starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. Martin served as a producer, costume designer, and production designer for the film, which was the most expensive Australian film ever made at the time. The film received mixed reviews but was a box office hit, earning over $200 million worldwide. Martin was nominated for two BAFTAs for her work on the film.

Martin’s most recent film collaboration with Luhrmann was The Great Gatsby (2013), an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, and Tobey Maguire. Martin once again produced, designed the costumes, and designed the sets for the film, which was shot in 3D and featured a contemporary soundtrack. The film was a huge success, grossing over $350 million worldwide and winning Martin her second pair of Oscars for costume design and production design. Martin became the second woman to win multiple Oscars in a single year and the first to do so twice.

Martin is currently working with Luhrmann on his upcoming biopic of Elvis Presley, starring Austin Butler and Tom Hanks. The film is expected to be released in 2022.

Personal Life and Trivia

Martin married Luhrmann on her 32nd birthday, January 26, 1997, in a lavish ceremony at her family’s estate in the Loire Valley. The couple have two children, Lillian Amanda (born in 2003) and William Alexander (born in 2005). They divide their time between Sydney, New York, and Paris.

Here are some more trivia facts about Catherine Martin:

NameCatherine Martin
Height5’ (1.52 m)
PartnerBaz Luhrmann (m. 1997)
ChildrenLillian Amanda Luhrmann, William Alexander Luhrmann
EducationSydney College of the Arts, East Sydney Technical College, National Institute of Dramatic Art
Favorite FoodFrench cuisine
Net Worth$20 million (estimated)
SiblingOne brother
Favorite TV ShowThe Crown
PetA dog named Dash