And the Oscar for Best Costumes Goes To …

'The Great Gatsby' won, but here's a look at the successes of all the nominees
March 3, 2014 Updated: March 3, 2014

There’s the Venus de Milo statue by Alexandros of Antioch, and there’s David, by Michelangelo, and then there’s the Oscar, the world’s most recognized statuette, which has graced the mantels of famous filmmakers since 1929. It was designed in 1928 by Cedric Gibbons, an MGM Studio art director, and sculpted by George Stanley.

The coveted trophy’s gold plating, shining magically, was embraced and hugged last night, Hollywood’s most glamorous night of the year, as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented its annual awards show. 

The Oscar trophy is 13.5 inches tall and weighs 8.5 pounds. I was surprised to discover that this Oscar statuette, of a knight holding a crusader’s sword, is standing on a reel of film with an inscription that signifies only five original branches of the Academy: actors, directors, producers, technicians, and writers. 

It didn’t originally include costume designers, my favorite award of the evening. 

 Catherine Martin won for her designs featured in “The Great Gatsby,” but the honor of being nominated enjoyed by other designers last night signifies great merit.  

Let’s review the five Oscar-nominated costume designers, who have endeavored to reflect the culture and the historic era depicted in their respective movies.

AMERICAN HUSTLE

Directed by David O. Russell
Starring Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale

Costumes by Michael Wilkinson

The Los Angeles-based Australian Michael Wilkinson has been recognized with numerous awards for his significant impact on the field of costume designs for film and theater, but this is his first nomination for an Oscar. He is currently designing costumes for the upcoming “Batman vs. Superman” project, starring Amy Adams and Ben Affleck. He also created hundreds of colorful costumes for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. 

'American Hustle'
From left, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Christian Bale, and Jennifer Lawrence in a scene from “American Hustle.” (AP Photo/Sony – Columbia Pictures, Francois Duhamel)

Jennifer Lawrence
Jennifer Lawrence as Rosalyn Rosenfeld in Columbia Pictures’ “American Hustle.” Lawrence’s clothing and accessories are vintage. “They had ideas, they lived large and they took risks,” costume designer Michael Wilkinson said of the ‘70s style that inspired his work in the film. (AP Photo/Sony – Columbia Pictures, Francois Duhamel)

THE GREAT GATSBY 

Directed by Baz Luhrmann 
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire

Costumes by Catherine Martin
Catherine Martin is a film, stage, and interior designer. She is a two-time Oscar winner in 2001 for Art Direction as well as for Costume Design, both for the movie “Moulin Rouge,” for which she created spectacular costumes for Nicole Kidman. She also designed Nicole Kidman’s vintage wardrobe for 2008 film “Australia.” Martin’s constant creativity is inspired by the people she works with and the places she visits. She divides her time between Paris, New York, and Sydney. 

'The Great Gatsby'
From left, Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, Carey Mulligan, as Daisy Buchanan and Joel Edgerton as Tom Buchanan in “The Great Gatsby.” Undated publicity photo. (AP Photo/Warner Bros. Pictures)

'The Great Gatsby'
Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan, right, and Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby in a scene from “The Great Gatsby.” (AP Photo/Warner Bros. Pictures)

 

12 YEARS A SLAVE 

Directed by Steve McQueen
Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyong, Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender

Costumes by Patricia Norris

Patricia Norris, an American costume designer, faced a challenge in creating costumes for “12 Years a Slave,” since there are very few photos of slaves available. But being the history buff that she is, the challenge became an educational journey with lots of research and rich imagination. Norris has been nominated previously for five Academy Awards for Costume Design, for “Days of Heaven,” “The Elephant Man,” “Victor Victoria,” “2010,” and “Sunset.” 

Norris was my personal choice for this year’s award. 

'12 Years A Slave'
Chiwetel Ejiofor (2nd R), in a scene from “12 Years A Slave.” (AP Photo/Fox Searchlight, Francois Duhamel)

Lupita Nyong’o
Lupita Nyong’o in a scene from “12 Years A Slave.” (AP Photo/Fox Searchlight, Francois Duhamel)

'12 Years a Slave'
Michael Fassbender, left, Lupita Nyong’o and Chiwetel Ejiofor (R), in a scene from “12 Years A Slave.” (AP Photo/Fox Searchlight, Francois Duhamel)

 

THE INVISIBLE WOMAN 

Directed by Ralph Fiennes
Starring Ralph Fiennes, Kristin Scott Thomas, Felicity Jones

Costumes by Michael O’Connor

A wonderfully creative partnership between actor-director Ralph Fiennes and London-born costume designer Michael O’Connor, who previously won an Oscar for “The Duchess,” resulted in O’Connor’s magnificent costumes fitting so perfectly into the story of Charles Dickens’ Victorian England. He studied the Victoria and Albert Museum archives, and embraced the period, which inspired and influenced the The Invisible Woman costumes. 

'12 Years a Slave'
Felicity Jones, as Nelly Ternan, and Ralph Fiennes as Charles Dickens, in a scene from “The Invisible Woman.” (AP Photo/Sony Pictures Classics, David Appleby)


2014 Oscar Nominated costumes for “The Invisible Woman,” by costume designer Michael O’Connor, at the 22nd Annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design Exhibit in Los Angeles, Calif., on Feb. 8.(Tonya Wise/Invision/AP)

 

THE GRANDMASTER

Directed by Wong Kar-wai
Starring Tony Leung, Zhang Ziyi, Chang Chen, Zhao Benshan

Costumes by William Chang Suk Ping

Costume designer William Chang Suk Ping, who also serves as the movie’s production designer and its editor, created an amazing repertoire of Chinese costumes for Wong Kar-wai’s latest film, “The Grandmaster,” which depicts Shanghai in the 1930s. A Hong Kong native, Chang has worked with director Wong Kar-wai on all of his movies, which has offered the designer an opportunity to showcase his elaborate costumes. It took Chang two years to collect the materials, beads, ribbons, and lace for the ornate and nostalgic costumes of “The Grandmaster.”

'The Grandmaster'
2014 Oscar Nominated costumes for “The Grandmaster,” by costume designer William Chang Suk Ping at the 22nd Annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design Exhibit, in Los Angeles, Calif., on Feb. 8. (Tonya Wise/Invision/AP)

Costumes from each of these films will be on view at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising Museum in Los Angeles until April 26. 

 

 

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