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  • James Kunovski

Tribute to Those Overlooked: Costume Design

“What a costume designer does is a cross between magic and camouflage. We create the illusion...” – Edith Head, eight-time Oscar winner.

Overlooked by the Academy, yet still outstanding as ever, the following five works capture the quintessence of costume principle and design.


Blade Runner | 1982

Costumes by Michael Kaplan and Charles Knode

Who won in its eligible year?

Gandhi, costumes by John Mollo and Bhanu Athaiya

Designed by Michael Kaplan and Charles Knode, Warner Bros.

Best costumes?

Rachael’s full fur coats.

Rachael and her angular power suit – an homage to Joan Crawford’s Mildred Pierce.

Rick’s autumn-toned detective look.

What does the designer have to say?

On Sean Young - “I wanted to create a futuristic heroine who was believable in the future, but with her feet firmly planted in film noir past.”

Adrian, a prominent costume designer from the golden age of Hollywood inspired several elements including the use of multiple shades and fabrics.


Breakfast at Tiffany’s | 1961

Costumes by Hubert de Givenchy

Who won in its eligible year?

La Dolce Vita, costumes by Piero Gherardi

Designed by Hubert de Givenchy, Paramount Pictures

Best costumes?

Holly’s little black dress from the opening, draped in pearls, breakfast in hand.

Holly’s second black dress number paired with a wide-brimmed haute couture bowed hat and oversized sunglasses.

Holly’s timeless blue jean, grey sweater combo as she sings Moon River.

Holly’s double-breasted orange wool coat. Similar to her Charade dress.

What does the designer have to say?

On the famous little black dress - "Visually defined the character but indelibly linked Audrey with her."


Clueless | 1995

Costumes by Mona May

Who won in its eligible year?

Restoration, costumes by James Acheson

Designed by Mona May, Paramount Pictures

Best costumes?

Cher’s '60s-inspired yellow plaid short-skirt suit.

Almost every outfit worn by the braggadocious high schoolers.

Cher’s valley party cherry-red Alaïa cocktail dress, Chanel water bottle holder and feathered boa.

What does the designer have to say?

“It was about taking fashion from all different sources and predicting what would be on the street six months ahead, like a fashion designer would.”


Rebel Without a Cause | 1955

Costumes by Moss Mabry

Who won in its eligible year?

Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing, costumes by Charles Le Maire

Designed by Moss Mabry, Warner Bros.

Best costumes?

Jimmy’s classic blue jeans, white t-shirt and red windbreaker combo.

What does the designer have to say?

“When you first see Jimmy in his red jacket against his black Merc, it’s not just a pose. It’s a warning, it’s a sign.”


Vertigo | 1958

Costumes by Edith Head

Who won in its eligible year?

Gigi, costumes by Cecil Beaton

Designed by Edith Head, Paramount Pictures

Best costumes?

Madeleine’s structured grey suit and pale turtleneck guise.

Madeleine’s contrasting black and white dress and overcoat ensemble.

What does the designer have to say?

“I don't usually get into battles, but dressing [Madeleine] Kim Novak… put to the test all my training in psychology.”


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