Uniforms win an Oscar!
You might think that the Oscars is a film awards ceremony – but it’s actually an annual event when everyone becomes a little bit obsessed with clothes. What actors are wearing on the red carpet attracts as much interest and magazine column inches as the ceremony itself, whether it’s “I want that dress!” or “WHAT was she thinking?” (Lady Gaga in orange Marigolds, anyone?)
So it’s great to see a winning film where the design and style is such a significant part of the whole look – and success – of the film. When The Grand Budapest Hotel opened in the spring last year, we were impressed by the level of detail that had gone into the design of the hotel staff uniforms, and there was a loud cheer from the Fashionizer office when it won Best Costume Design.
Costume can make or break the look of a film. It can also create stand-out moments that people talk about years and even decades later: whatever you felt about the film, Daniel 007 Craig’s teeny blue bathing trunks in Casino Royale created something of a lasting memory, while Marilyn’s white dress in The Seven year Itch has such iconic status that it sold for about £3 million a few years ago.
The similarities between uniform and costume design don’t escape us.
Uniforms are a form of communication. The colour, style and fit speak volumes about a person and the establishment they work in. Purple was the perfect colour for The Grand Budapest Hotel as it suggested something opulent, rich, and well, grand. It can transform your perception: we were interested to hear that Best Actor Eddie Redmayne was given a suit that was slightly too small for him when he portrayed a young, geeky Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, but wore an oversized suit when he portrayed the older Hawking to accentuate the impact of his advancing illness and the deteriorating effect on his body.
The design is just the start of the story, and what happens next is a mammoth, behind-the-scenes operation that involves creating, manufacturing, fitting, altering, adapting clothing to fit a wide range of people. And all to a deadline, because, as we know, whether it’s a film or a hotel opening, delays cost money.
In the background, the Best Costume Design category was, quietly, something of a triumph for team GB. Four of the five nominees had costumes supplied by a British company. So our second loud cheer is for the people who might not have made it to Hollywood for the ceremonies and the parties, but whose work has been seen by audiences all over the world.