This year’s Costume Designers Guild Awards saw a huge range of deserving, talented designers win for a wide array of work in films and television. Each designer used their costumes to enhance the work of directors and writers, using their clothing to highlight key details and themes. This article explores a few of the winners’ winning work in greater depth.
Excellence in Contemporary Film
The winner was Jenny Eagan for her work on Rian Johnson’s film Knives Out. As a murder mystery film both Eagan and Johnson worked to create a Cluedo-esque film, with the characters needing to each be distinct individuals but simultaneously not standing out, in order for one character to not seem like the definite suspect of the crime. Eagan carried out this task in the characters’ dress. For example the character of Linda Drysdale, she was the matriarchal force in the family. She had a bad ass boss attitude reflected in her power suits and bold monochromatic colouring. It meant the audience felt she was a powerful character capable of any task, no matter how evil.
Eagan also created an iconic internet moment with Chris Evans’ character Ransom Drysdale’s jumper, winning the hearts of many online. However, Eagan’s jumper choice was more than just a cute, fuzzy moment for Ransom. Eagan said it represented his leisurely attitude in both his life and his career, the light colouring would be easy to dirty but Ransom’s lazy lifestyle means it never reaches this opportunity. Eagan purposely tore holes in the jumper to show Ransom’s lack of care for any of his belongings, money and possessions mean nothing to him as he has lived off an unlimited supply of money he has never had to earn. The comfy and warmth nature of it also makes you feel relaxed around the character meaning you’re unable to detect anything.
Excellence in Period Film
A surprise win for Mayes C. Ruebo’s costume design in Taika Watiti’s Jojo Rabbit against the backdrop of the more typical period costumes of Downtown Abbey and the extravagant 1960s and 1970s worlds of the other nominees Dolemite is My Name, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Rocketman. Ruebo’s job was incredibly difficult due to the film’s sensitive nature with its Nazi storyline paired with the satirical nature of the film. Yet Ruebo worked all elements of this into her costume, for example for Hitler’s costume he wore the typical khaki shirt and belted jacket, yet his costume was an exaggerated version to represent the Hitler in this film being an imaginary creation of the main character Jojo, as seen with Hitler’s baggy riding trousers. Hitler’s costume also went through transformations, deteriorating in its smartness and how complete and youthful he looked, as Jojo’s questioning of the regime developed.
Ruebo played with colour and fun largely in the character of Rosie, this film had a dreamlike element to it due to the child’s perspective. Rosie, as Jojo’s mother, played a large role in being the warmth at the centre of Jojo’s life. Ruebo gave Rosie lots of fun accessories e.g. shoes with butterfly accents which highlighted her personality against such a cold, harsh environment. Ruebo unusually dressed Rosie in trousers, an item hard to obtain for a woman of this time, yet Ruebo wanted to represent Rosie as no ordinary woman. She’s quirky, expressive and had creative connections, perfect for her rebellious actions against the oppressive Nazi regime.
Excellence in Sci-Fi/Fantasy Television
Michele Clapton has always put deep thought into the impressive costumes of the Game of Thrones characters, thus a deserving win for the designer. Tiny details reveal deep long held character storylines, personalities and relationships in Clapton’s work. Clapton won for the series’ final episode, one of the most powerful costume moments was Sansa Stark’s Queen of the North dress. Michele on her Instagram revealed it was made of the same fabric that was used in Margarey’s dress, highlighting the deep bond between the two characters. Other details revealed symbols of the Stark family such as her crown being made from two Dire wolves, the family sigil.