Colleen Atwood and Antonella Cannarozzi. Allegedly highly influential, but not quite a fashion household name. However, come Sunday 27th February and these mystery names will be vying for an Oscar win. They’re not film stars or directors: they are costume designers, hoping to be crowned winner of Costume Design at the 83rd Academy Awards ceremony. Previous winners for costume design include Star Wars and Titanic, with Dior being nominated in 1954 for Indiscretion of an American Wife.
And it’s not only the glitterati onlookers who will be focussing on their outfits; Sandra Bullock last year won her Oscar in Marchesa, but Carey Mulligan stole the show in Prada. No, the thrills of costume are expressed as this particular title is presented using an array of mock sets, with fake actors adorned in the most impressive of garments shown in each particular film. All in all, it is by far one of the most visually spectacular moments of the Oscars.
Nonetheless, in the grand scheme of the ceremony, with most people’s attention distracted by the guessing game of who will take home the Best Actor and Best Actress gongs, this category is an understated accreditation that never receives the credit it has laboriously earned.
However, in the months that ensue, the winner has often been seen to have a resonant effect on the fashion world. When the film Marie Antoniette won the Oscar for costume design in 2007, the fashion and arts world was, without question, influenced by the silhouettes, prints and opulent styles that emerged from this stunning and visually striking masterpiece of candy-colours and pure fashio indulgence.
This year the nominees are: Antonella Cannarozzi for I Am Love, Jenny Beavan for The King’s Speech, Sandy Powell for The Tempest, Mary Zophres for True Grit and Colleen Atwood for Alice in Wonderland. The mix of film genres and costumes provides a diverse range of costumes for our greedy eyes to consume.
For True Grit, think dark western, set in the 1870s, styles include jacket fringing, suede, and cowboy boots. The King’s Speech is set in the 1930’s: the styles included clothes with a surrealist twist, such as those by Elsa Schiaparelli, with military inspired square shouldered shapes teamed with low heels. Edgy Chanel post-girl chic. The Tempest, “Shakespeare’s final masterpiece,” as the trailer states, blends the mix of Elizabethan attire with fantasy fashions. The look includes cloaks, dramatic collars and luscious fabrics such as velvet; a truly gorgeous combination. I Am Love displays men and women living in the Bourgeoisie in Milan, a world encapsulated by the words slick and chic. Neat thick plastic hairbands, pearls, shift dresses and block colours complete the look. Finally, the most outspoken challenger in this category, Alice in Wonderland. Every character has evolved from the original pages of Lewis Carroll’s book, into significant fashionistas with heavy influence to our wardrobes. They include floral waistcoats, pocket watches, black and white diamond print, and blood red lipstick.
The surprising favourite, being perhaps a tame contender, is The King’s Speech.
Like Marie Antoniette in 2006/07, the Alice in Wonderland look has filtered into our high streets over the last year. Dazed and Confused magazine indulged in a spectacular fashion shoot inspired by the film, using Mia Wasikowsa (Alice), labelled as their “wonder girl”, on the front cover. Echoing American Vogue’s choice to dedicate an issue entirely to costumes and actors from Marie Antoniette, it almost put their less theatrical fashion shoots to shame.
All of these films have an utterly separate design ethos. How can we compare the Mad Hatter to Bertie? There can only be one winner, and who knows what we could be wearing as a result!