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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

January 9, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Secrets from 2013′s top movie costume designers

(Have to share this: I chatted on the phone with “Downton Abbey” costume designer Caroline McCall for half an hour yesterday! For a costume geek like me, this was great fun. Watch for a Sunday feature story soon.)

As the Oscar nominations draw near (next Thursday, very early in the morning), every category’s getting some attention — including one of my favorites, costume design. This week, the Hollywood Reporter showcased five designers: Catherine Martin (“The Great Gatsby”), Michael Wilkinson (“American Hustle”), Mary Zophres (“Inside Llewyn Davis”), Trish Summerville (“Catching Fire”) and Daniel Orlandi (“Saving Mr. Banks”). (Do I think this will be the Oscar five? Nope; take out Zophres and Orlandi, put in Patricia Norris for “12 Years a Slave” and either Ruth E. Carter for “The Butler” or Jeffrey Kurland for “Beautiful Creatures.”) Lots of interesting detail in the HR piece, such as:

  • Martin added a skull-and-bones printed silk lining, invisible to moviegoers, to one of Tom Buchanan’s (Joel Edgerton) silk suits; to reference his Yale days in the Skull and Bones society.
  • Wilkinson, for “Hustle,” stocked up on “bolts of vintage polyester” and noted that, for the female characters’ low-plunging necklines, “we had to keep our eyes on the monitor all the time to make sure there was nothing untoward happening.”
  • Oscar Isaac, in “Inside Llewyn Davis,” wears the same outfit for the entire movie. Zophres said her staff made multiples of everything, including his hand-knit cardigan and scarf, as no single piece would have lasted the entire shoot.
  • Orlandi’s biggest challenge was re-creating a day at Disneyland in 1961, dressing hundreds of children and families — and learning, at the last minute, that Disney’s archives didn’t contain original life-sized costumes for Mickey, Minnie and Pluto. (His staff whipped them up — fast.)

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