19 Movies With Gorgeous Outfits That Won an Oscar for Best Costume Design

In the 21st century, only 19 movies have won the most important movie award, an Oscar for Best Costume Design. Most of the time, movies with historically-correct costumes win the award. But it’s not just the clothes that matter in film, but also, the hairstyles and makeup. This is why such movies often receive several Oscar nominations. And in some cases, the movie itself may be average and not receive an award for its acting or screenplay.

Bright Side wants to warn you: there’s a chance that this article will make you want to buy a lot of new clothes right away!

Black Panther, 2018

Costume designer — Ruth E. Carter

In order to create stylish superhero looks, the designer had to mix together futuristic elements, traditional African clothes, and haute couture accessories. According to Ruth E. Carter herself, during this time, she had photos of authentic African outfits in front of her and looked at rare accessories made of seashells as well as examples of body piercing and body art.

Phantom Thread, 2017

Costume designer — Mark Bridges

This movie is set soon after World War II and during this time period, 2 fashion industries were the best in the world — London and Paris. Bridges based his work on the former. He studied several biographies of not-very-popular English designers, Peter Russell, Hardy Amies, and Michael Donnellan, and combined their talents and features together.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, 2016

Costume designer — Colleen Atwood

The central element of all the clothes in this movie is, of course, the coat of Newt Scamander. There were 12 identical versions made for the movie. It has the color of petrol or as Colleen Atwood calls it, a dark-peacock blue. So, in general, the coat looked a lot like what the clothes of the 1920s looked like.

Mad Max: Fury Road, 2015

Costume designer — Jenny Beavan

Interestingly, aside from the Oscar for Best Costume Design they won, the movie got awards in 5 other categories including Best Makeup. All the characters are dressed in post-apocalyptic fashion, mainly in worn-out leather, dirt, and other accessories.

The Grand Budapest Hotel, 2014

Costume designer — Milena Canonero

Because this movie took place in an ironic utopia, the costumes’ colors were made to look like they were from some kind of fairy tale. The 5 main colors used were red, pink, yellow, gold, and violet. The most-used fabric in the film was felt. Canonero said in an interview that felt was mostly used for making military uniforms, so it was supposed to make the most demanding and attentive viewers feel like something bad was coming.

The Great Gatsby, 2013

Costume designer — Catherine Martin

Interestingly, the original movie that was filmed back in 1974 also got an Oscar for Best Costume Design. High-end clothing companies like Prada, Tiffany & Cо., and Brooks Brothers took part in creating the costumes for the 2013 movie. This is why the hype around the costumes in the movie appeared way before the actual film was even in theaters. The premiere sparked the creation of numerous fashion collections of dresses in the style of The Great Gatsby.

Anna Karenina, 2012

Costume designer — Jacqueline Durran

To find inspiration, Durran looked at the images from the 1850s where there was a perfect balance of strict looks and romantic ones. In other words, there was no goal to be historically accurate when creating the costumes for this movie. But even so, the costumes looked great!

The Artist, 2011

Costume designer — Mark Bridges

In case you haven’t seen the film, we have to remind you that it’s a black and white silent movie. All of the details, including the interiors and costumes, were there to show respect for the era of real silent films. The stylization was perfect — the audience even gave it a standing ovation for 10 minutes at The Cannes Film Festival.

Alice in Wonderland, 2010

Costume designer — Colleen Atwood

The costumes’ details were extremely important in this movie. If you look carefully at Alice’s blue dress, you can see the heavy black decoration that has nothing to do with the surrounding light fabric. This is a “gothic hello” from Tim Burton who is subtly telling the viewers that the main character is not as childish as her dress initially suggests.

The Young Victoria, 2009

Costume designer — Sandy Powell

Critics were very dissatisfied with the fact that so much money was spent on the movie and there were no special effects at all. But most of the money was spent on the costume production. 3 dresses were exact copies of real dresses of the English Queen Victoria — one for mourning, one for the wedding, and one for the coronation. But funnily enough, every single one of these dresses spent just several seconds on screen.

The Duchess, 2008

Costume designer — Michael O’Connor

There were so many costumes made for this movie that a separate room was needed to store them. 30 of the costumes were made based on historically accurate prototypes.

Elizabeth: The Golden Age, 2007

Costume designer — Alexandra Byrne

All the images of the English Queen symbolize a certain moment in her life. Red and orange dresses highlight her coronation and reign as well as show her difference from other women. And in several scenes where the Queen is sad or worried, her dresses are made up of greener hues.

Marie Antoinette, 2006

Costume designer — Milena Canonero

This movie heavily features the rococo style even though the dresses are not historically accurate. Canonero kept the overall look of the costumes but got rid of excess decoration. It’s interesting to learn that the designer had the idea to make the costumes in pastel colors after she saw a pack of almond biscuits that looked similar.

Memoirs of a Geisha, 2005

Costume designer — Colleen Atwood

The costumes in this film are not historically accurate, so it was obvious why many Japanese people didn’t like it. The costumes and hairstyles had nothing to do with the actual appearance of geishas. Additionally, the dances the main characters performed weren’t real either.

The Aviator, 2004

Costume designer — Sandy Powell

The entire film recreated the cinematography style of the first half of the 20th century. It was the so-called “technicolor era”. During this time, red, green, and blue colors were dominant on the screen. Going along with this theme, the colors in the costumes also contained these colors. It’s interesting that Sandy Powell only had access to old black and white photos when designing so she simply came up with some of the colors herself.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, 2003

Costume designer — Richard Taylor and Ngila Dickson

The number of costumes that were made for this film is truly amazing: 19,000! Frodo needed 64 sets of clothes and Aragorn had 32. Part of the costumes were practically masterpieces, especially the armor. All of the pieces were made by hand and even the simplest mesh armor with 13,000 rings took 3 days to make.

Chicago, 2002

Costume designer — Colleen Atwood

The entire musical is a representation of the Jazz Age aesthetically, and the dresses only highlight this. The main feature of the clothing was to give up the typical feminine forms and use more masculine pieces. The accompanying accessories were flowers and different kinds of embroidery.

Moulin Rouge!, 2001

Costume designer — Catherine Martin and Angus Strathie

There were as many as 80 costume designers and an overall number of 300 costumes. The clothes were put together in a very playful and seductive style using short dresses, feathers, pantyhose, and of course, lacy pantaloons.

Gladiator, 2000

Costume designer — Janty Yates

This film’s costume designer found all the necessary information from Trajan’s Column in Rome. The column shows a great number of warriors wearing armor. And an additional source of inspiration for Yates was the historical paintings by Alma Tadema.

Some critics think that the art of costume design is a thing of the past since today, pretty much anything can be created with a photo-editing tool that costs way less time and money. Do you think this kind of art has a future or not?

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