Who Will Win Oscar for Costumes?

‘A Wrinkle in Time’ costumes by Paco Delgado. (Left to right) Costumes worn by actors: Mindy Kaling as Mrs. Who, Reese Witherspoon as Mrs. Whatsit and Oprah Winfrey as Mrs. Which
(Photo: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)

Costumes for 2018 Movies on View at FIDM


The magic of costume design is like all good magic, indecipherable yet potent.

Costumes are integral to movies, aligning with the vision of the filmmaker in building the story and providing both physical and emotional context.

This year, the FIDM museum presents the 27th annual Art of the Motion Picture Costume Design, exhibiting more than 100 costumes from more than 25 feature films from 2018.

‘Mary Poppins Returns’ costumes by Sandy Powell.
(Photo: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)

Works by the five costume designers nominated for the Academy Award include: “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” “Black Panther,” “The Favourite,” “Mary Poppins Returns” and “Mary Queen of Scots”.

In order to highlight new techniques and the research that designers explore in developing the look of their movies, the exhibition is divided into sections.

The first section, “Out of This World,” demonstrates the new technologies that are used in fabricating the clothes. These include the use of laser-cut vinyl to convey lace, as in the trim on Emma Stone’s black and white court gown in “The Favourite.”

‘Black Panther’ costumes by Ruth Carter. Photo: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages


The costumes for Angela Bassett’s Ramonda and Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther best exemplify the film’s celebration of Afrofuturism, or the fusion of science fiction and fantasy with African culture. Ramonda wears a 3D-printed take on the Zulu hat traditionally worn by married women, while Black Panther’s suit features patterned triangles, the “sacred geometry” of Africa.

For Paco Delgado, the task for “A Wrinkle in Time” was to dream up costumes for the Mrs. Ws—the “warriors who serve the good and light of the universe,” played by Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling. With help from wardrobe designer Michael Schmidt, Delgado effected the otherworldliness with dresses made from pleated plastic, LED lights and handmade paper.

The section on American Life focuses on Mary Zophres’ Oscar-nominated “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” and Marci Rodgers’ “BlackKlansman.” Each presented an intriguing challenge to the designers. Zophres had to make the majority of the costumes from scratch. Renting them from a costume house was clearly out of the question as the life on the 1800’s western frontier was rough. You can’t return a costume with holes shot through it.

The other challenge was sourcing materials for all the wool. According to Nick Verreos, FIDM co-chair of Fashion Design, finding enough wool in the U.S. to make more than 1,000 costumes was impossible; most of it comes from Spain and England. B&J Company in Los Angeles provided the necessary yardage.

In finding the right look for “BlackKlansman,” set in the 1970s, Rodgers combedthrough ’70s-era ads in vintage issues of Essence, Jet and Hustler magazines. For the members of the Colorado State Black Student Union, she employed a mix of prints, earth tones and metallics, textures and wide collars.

The last section of the exhibition features historic eras, the Elizabethan era for “Mary Queen of Scots” and the early 18th century for “The Favourite.”

Sandy Powell (also designer for “Mary Poppins Returns”) tapped into  “The Favourite” director Yorgos Lanthimos’ sensibility for the costumes. While there are certainly plenty of luxurious dresses and finery, Powell also designed costumes that defined each of the three main characters. Her costumes brilliantly underscore each woman and highlight her personal pursuits.

“We all wanted it to look visually beautiful, but we also just wanted the characters to look like people wearing clothes, not costumes,” Powell said in a Vogue interview.

Considering some of the same themes as in “The Favourite,” Alexandra Byrne in “Mary Queen of Scots” faced establishing the contrast between Queen Elizabeth and her half sister Mary, who presented a threat to the throne. Byrne refers to Elizabeth as dressing strategically, while Mary upon arriving back to Scotland, was a widow who had lost her title, lifestyle and jewels. She had to be pragmatic. Her clothes are much more evolved out of her growing into the life of Scotland.

The exhibition continues through April 12 at FIDM, 919 S. Grand Ave. It is free to the public. Parking is available under the college building on 9th or surrounding lots.

‘Mary Queen of Scots’ costumes by Alexandra Byrne. (Left to Right) Costume worn by actor: James McArdle as James, Earl of Moray, Saoirse Ronan as Mary Stuart, Margot Robbie as Queen Elizabeth I, Saoirse Ronan as Mary Stuart and Jack Lowden as Henry Darnley.
(Photo: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)

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