In a stylish Oscar week kickoff, Hollywood fashionistas from Kiernan Shipka to Krysten Ritter to host Betsy Brandt gathered at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Tuesday night for the 18th Annual Costume Designers Guild Awards. The prestigious black-tie fashion fest celebrates storytelling through film, television and short-form costume design — and promises more than a few photo-worthy ensembles.
Also to be counted on are some quick deliveries from Mindy Kaling, whose stylist-slash-“Mindy Project” costume designer Salvador Perez is the CDG president. “Coco Chanel once said, ‘before you leave the house, take one thing off,'” Kaling noted, before joking that Perez’s rule, conversely, is to add Swarovski crystal.
“Mad Max: Fury Road’s” Jenny Beavan, “The Danish Girl’s” Paco Delgado and “Beasts of No Nation’s” Jenny Eagan emerged as the night’s big film winners in the fantasy, period and contemporary categories, respectively. “I got to experience something that I don’t know if I can do again, just because I don’t know if I could take it,” said Eagan, who described the tough filming circumstances in Guana. (“They didn’t have racks, people had never seen a film set,” she recalled.)
Meanwhile, a jovial Delgado was thoroughly surprised. “There’s nothing more scary than being here, I think,” said the candid “Danish Girl” costume visionary, who told Variety that he still thinks he has no shot at the Oscar. Noted an equally shocked and endearing Beaven: “I’m sorry, I didn’t expect this yet again… But what a lovely day!” And on “Mad Max”: “I’m so proud of that film, I could almost pop!”
Lead actress Oscar nominee Cate Blanchett — who donned fur coats and feminine ’50s silhouettes imagined by CDG nominee Sandy Powell for her portrayal of Carol Aird in “Carol” — received the Lacoste Spotlight Award. “Cate Blanchett is so bloody perfect,” joked Powell, who presented her with the honor.
Blanchett never imagined she’d get the change to turn her pleasure into an actual career. “My sister trained as a set designer, and she would dress me up, and I would inhabit the form she’d given me,” Blanchett recalled, before extolling the integral role of the costume designer. “It’s in those costume fittings where you actually get to make manifest the psychological things you’d been talking about in the rehearsal room.”
“The Hateful Eight” director Quentin Tarantino was awarded the CDGA Distinguished Collaborator prize from Jennifer Jason Leigh and Kurt Russell, who described severe life at “Camp Tarantino” and brought out a “Hateful Eight” chain for the occasion. “I’ve considered (this) to be the greatest award,” said Tarantino — whose costume designers have never scored Oscars or Globes or CDG nominations. “But we do have something else… We have Halloween parties!” he quipped.
As the 2015 Emmys, for the first time, adopted the CDG’s format of grouping work by period (contemporary/period) rather than show format (series/miniseries), both “Transparent’s” Marie Schley and “American Horror Story: Freak Show’s” Lou Eyrich were victors. Tonight, they went head-to-head, and Eyrich won for Outstanding Contemporary Series. “Game of Thrones'” Michele Clapton took the TV prize for Outstanding Fantasy Series, which got its own category, distinct from period, for the first time this year.
Ellen Mirojnick, nominated for “The Knick” — and a previous Emmy and CDG award winner for 2014 miniseries “Behind the Candelabra” — won for Outstanding Period Television Series (against shows like “Mad Men,” “Penny Dreadful” and “Outlander”). She also scored a standing ovation when she received the Lifetime Achievement award from Andy Garcia, following the showing of a video montage with clips from stars including Michael Douglas, with whom she’d worked on 15 films.
“The questions she often asks me about my characters go way beyond the clothes,” said Douglas in the video. “I’m proud to call you my friend.”
Mirojnick, who named Liberace and Gordon Gekko as her all-time favorite characters to clothe, raised her award in the air and ended the night (which she referred to more than a few times as her “wedding”) in a toast. “May you pass on the love that had been given to you… May you allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love,” she preached.
The winners in the seven competitive categories are as follows:
Excellence in Contemporary Film
“Beasts of No Nation” – Jenny Eagan -> WINNER
“Joy” – Michael Wilkinson
“Kingsman: The Secret Service” – Arianne Phillips
“The Martian” – Janty Yates
“Youth” – Carlo Poggioli
Excellence in Period Film
“Brooklyn” – Odile Dicks-Mireaux
“Carol” – Sandy Powell
“Crimson Peak” – Kate Hawley
“The Danish Girl” – Paco Delgado -> WINNER
“Trumbo” – Daniel Orlandi
Excellence in Fantasy Film
“Cinderella” – Sandy Powell
“Ex Machina” – Sammy Sheldon Differ
“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2” – Kurt and Bart
“Mad Max: Fury Road” – Jenny Beavan -> WINNER
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” – Michael Kaplan
Outstanding Contemporary Television Series
“American Horror Story: Hotel” – Lou Eyrich -> WINNER
“Empire, Season 1” – Rita McGhee
“House of Cards” – Johanna Argan, Kemal Harris
“Ray Donovan” – Christopher Lawrence
“Transparent” – Marie Schley
Outstanding Period Television Series
“The Knick” – Ellen Mirojnick -> WINNER
“Mad Men” – Janie Bryant, Tiffany White Stanton
“Masters of Sex” – Isis Mussenden
“Outlander” – Terry Dresbach
“Penny Dreadful” – Gabriella Pescucci
Outstanding Fantasy Television Series
“Game of Thrones” – Michele Clapton -> WINNER
“Once Upon a Time” – Eduardo Castro
“Sleepy Hollow, Season 2” – Kristin M. Burke, Mairi Chisholm
“Sleepy Hollow, Season 3” – Mairi Chisholm
“The Wiz Live!” – Paul Tazewell
Excellence in Short Form Design
“And So It Begins, Old Spice Commercial” – Mindy Le Brock
“From the Makers of Happy & Merry, H&M Presents Katy Perry Commercial” – B. Åkerlund
“The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-earth – Dance Battle, Video Game, Kaboom/Warner Interactive Commercial” – Soyon An
“Kevin Spacey, E-Trade Commercial” – Johanna Argan
“Most Interesting Man in the World Wins on Land, Sea & Air, Dos Equis Commercial” –> Julie Vogel