The Oscar noms for costume design

Curse of the Golden Flower

Tang Dynasty ceremonial wear, as seen in sculptures and porcelain, provided the jumping-off point for Yee Chung Man’s flamboyant costume design. “The Tang Dynasty was not that exaggerated,” he says. “(Zhang Yimou) pushed me to the extreme.” Layered, sequined, patterned and golden, the emperor’s dragon robe and the queen’s phoenix robe featured in the finale took approximately 40 artisans two months to construct.

The Devil Wears Prada

Though the movie required hundreds of outfits, Patricia Field did very little background research, relying instead on a tried-and-true triangular formula: “At one point is the actor, another point is the character and the third point is wardrobe,” she explains. “My research was to read the script and understand who these characters were.” It didn’t hurt that Field has been in the fashion business since 1966.


Sharen Davis referenced archival photos, fashion magazines and footage of “American Bandstand” and Motown TV specials to spin a fashion-forward vision of the ’60s and ’70s. The female singers’ looks pay homage to the Supremes, Cher and designer Mary Quant; men’s attire filters James Brown, Jackie Wilson, Marvin Gaye, Al Green and Prince. “Most of the looks were already imbedded in my head,” the former background vocalist says.

Marie Antoinette

Known as the go-to designer for period perfect, Milena Canonero studied portraits of the deposed queen, then narrowed down her selection to designs and materials that embodied Marie Antoinette’s personality and captured the emotional journey helmer Sofia Coppola sought to portray. Period patterns were updated and fabric colors brightened to appear brand new, as they would have looked during Marie’s time.

The Queen

Researching the British royal family, Consolata Boyle’s task wasn’t a question of where to find information, but what to use. “There is an unending amount of source material,” she says. “You need to sift through it and reject a lot or you could be overwhelmed.” Hierarchies, traditions and dress codes had to be considered at all times, though Boyle says her goal was to get to the living, breathing people behind the edifice.

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