Anna Karenina_Matthew Macfadyen mid_Image credit Focus Features © 2013 Lord Christopher Laverty. All rights reserved.

Award Winners 2013: Anna Karenina Takes All

Now the main award ceremonies are done and dusted there is just room for a summary of the Best (or ‘Achievement In’) Costume Design award winners before we gratefully shut up about it all for another year.

There were no surprises at all. Not really. See for yourself, but if you did not call Jacqueline Durran for Anna Karenina every single time you were just throwing money down the drain.

The 15th Annual Costume Designers Guild Awards:

Excellence in Contemporary Film

Skyfall
Jany Temime

Excellence in Period Film

Anna KareninaJacqueline Durran

Excellence in Fantasy Film

Mirror MirrorEiko Ishioka

Outstanding Contemporary Television Series

SmashMolly Maginnis

Outstanding Period/ Fantasy Television Series

Downton AbbeyCaroline McCall

Outstanding Made For Television or Mini-Series

American Horror Story: Asylum, Season 2Lou Eyrich

Excellence in Commercial Costume Design

Captain Morgan BlackJudianna Makovsky

Anna Karenina_Collection 2_Image credit Banana Republic

Key pieces from the Anna Karenina tie-in collection at Banana Republic co-curated by costume designer Jacqueline Durran.

The 66th British Academy Film Awards:

Anna KareninaJacqueline Durran

The 85th Oscar Academy Awards:

Anna KareninaJacqueline Durran

Anna Karenina_Jacqueline Durran_Academy Award 2013

Jacqueline Durran in what appears to be a denim dress or coat receiving her Academy Award for Anna Karenina. Note: Levi’s style double needle arcuate on the pocket.

Another opulent period piece takes the costume crown because that is all the award bodies (with the exception of the Costume Designers Guild) know how to judge. Despite plentiful coverage on the Internet, interviews and newspaper articles, unless the costumes in question are glamorous and from another decade, preferably century, institutions such as the Academy do not even recognise them as ‘designed’. It is a sad fact but clearly nothing is going to change. Also it does not hurt to have crossover appeal in the high street or on catwalks. Basically some ‘couture allure’.

We must qualify that Jacqueline Durran is a talented costume designer and thoroughly deserved her awards (her attention to detail is astonishing). Really though, that is not the issue. With the amount of coverage Durran’s costumes received in the popular press, even those who do not understand costume design knew there must be something special about them. At Clothes on Film we have not seen a film so heavily promoted for its costume design in recent memory. Even Black Swan with the Rodarte name (often incorrectly) attached did not receive half as much coverage as Anna Karenina. What’s more, it was fashion websites and magazines covering the costumes not just film specific publications. At one point it seemed as though poor Jacqueline Durran had given the same interview fifty times, probably under some pressure from the studio. Although saying that they did help put several statuettes on her mantelpiece.

What becomes most interesting is where we go from here. Perhaps this year’s big period, sci-fi or fantasy film will follow the same trend? A tie-in with Banana Republic does not hurt either, or even better a specialist couture line ‘inspired by’ the movie. The fashion interest in Anna Karenina was understandable; despite the late 19th century setting, Durran’s work was directly inspired 1940s/50s Dior. Obviously this was there way in. For as much as Clothes on Film’s coverage may help bring attention to a particular film’s costumes, this is nothing compared to an interview in Vogue or Vanity Fair. If you take your film’s costume design from niche interest to front page of the Sunday supplements you are on to a winner. It takes far more than talent to win a costume award these days; it takes coverage.

© 2013 – 2014, Lord Christopher Laverty.

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  • http://urbandon.com Don Pezzano

    Totally agree- the good ‘ol tie-in with Banana Republic and the traditional values of the Guild voters made this a sure fire winners. Yes, the costumes were wonderful but so were many others too. Perhaps if you made a period piece, set in Hollywood, about directors being directors, staring a director, you could walk away with EVERY Oscar.

  • http://www.twitter.com/kucharskijoe Joe Kucharski

    Great article. The point regarding the heavy coverage within the fashion world seems particularly significant, especially for a film that never received a wide release in the states.

    I recently wrote a small piece on this topic of period costume design dominating at the Oscars for Guise Magazine. It will be interesting to see if the newly established Costume Designers Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will change the landscape of nominations in coming years.

    http://www.guisemagazine.com/behind-the-seams/period-costume-design-reigns-supreme/