×

Costume Designers ball a perfect fit

Lack of TV makes kudofest intimate, uninhibited

It may seem odd that the Costume Designers Guild created its annual awards to raise public awareness of designers’ achievements, yet staunchly refuses to televise its annual presentation. The decision to restrict electronic media to arrivals, however, has made the event one of the most intimate and uninhibited of the season.

“One of the charms of our event is that we don’t have electronic media coverage,” says board member Mary Rose, who chaired last year’s event. Award presenters and recipients relish the freedom of giving heartfelt, often hilarious, speeches without the restrictions imposed on kudocasts. The results are often spontaneous and inspiring in an era of P.C. awards speeches that lapse into laundry lists of thank-yous.

In accepting the distinguished director award at last year’s event, Warren Beatty provoked howls of laughter by describing the strange intimacy between actors and costume designers, while expressing his relief at no television.

Paying respect

Newly elected guild president Deborah Nadoolman says the board makes an effort to invite only those actors, directors and producers who share a special appreciation for costume design.

Nadoolman says Hilary Swank, Robert Downey Jr., Tim Curry, Jane Kaczmarek and other stars who helped out at last year’s awards were there because their love of costume design made them a perfect fit.

“It wasn’t an obligation or something their agent set up. It was on a personal level. You got that from the actors. They were joyous participants in the event.”

The guild has reunited some of the great collaborators of costuming at its three prior events, including Bob Mackie and Carol Burnett, Nolan Miller and Aaron Spelling, and Milena Canonero and Beatty.

Designer Albert Wolsky, chair of the awards slated for March 17, describes the evening as “very gala,” just the antidote for a group used to working behind the scenes in casual clothes while slaving over the images of others.

“We don’t get together very often,” Wolsky says. “It’s very nice for a whole bunch of us to be all dressed up together. We’re all very happy to see each other. This kind of interaction is unusual.”

“It’s really the feeling of a family gathering,” Nadoolman adds. “My experience has been that in between courses, everyone’s up, the tables are empty, and people are visiting with one another.”

Short and sweet

One of the original reasons for creating the awards was to honor designers customarily overlooked, such as those excelling in contemporary design, says Wolsky. Yet the guild has avoided the pitfall of award overkill. There are only four competitive categories: excellence in film — contemporary; excellence in film — period/fantasy; excellence in television — contemporary; and excellence in television — period/fantasy. The guild preselects honorees for the Hall of Fame Award, the Rit Color Career Achievement for Television Award, the Bulgari Career Achievement for Film Award and the Distinguished Director Award.

The upcoming event will induct Helen Rose into the Hall of Fame, and fete film designer Theadora Van Runkle and TV designer Rhett Turner for career achievement.

“We limited how many awards we were going to give because everybody said it’s so boring to see that,” says Rose. “At the hair and makeup awards, you see nothing but people going up and down the stairs.”

Also distinctly missing from this affair are the designer clothing endorsements that turn participants at every other awards show into walking advertisements. When costume designers parade the red carpet into the Beverly Hills Hotel, there will be no stylists lurking. Costume designers will mix vintage with couture and outrageous with demure. Only their talents stand out.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Abominable

    Malaysia Orders Cuts to 'Abominable' Over Controversial Map Scene

    Malaysia has ordered cuts to the U.S.-Chinese animated feature “Abominable,” which includes a scene involving a map that portrays China’s contested territorial claims in the South China Sea. The map scene has already caused the film to be banned in Vietnam. The Philippines foreign minister this week called for “Abominable” to be boycotted. The film [...]

  • Kung Fu Panda 3

    Universal's Beijing Resort to Partner With Alibaba on Digitization

    Amid fierce controversy about the leverage China has over U.S. entertainment firms with significant mainland operations, Universal Beijing Resort and Alibaba announced a strategic partnership Thursday to digitize the forthcoming theme park in China’s capital. Facial recognition and the use of big data will be the norm at the new resort, which will use an [...]

  • They Shall Not Grow Old restoration

    Peter Jackson Documentary 'They Shall Not Grow Old' Nabs Limited China Release

    The Peter Jackson produced and directed World War I documentary “They Shall Not Grow Old” will hit Chinese theaters on November 11. Though it will roll out nationwide, it will do so via the China’s National Arthouse Alliance, which has limited screens. The 2018 documentary puts together interviews with WWI veterans and more than 100-year-old [...]

  • Zombieland Double Tap

    'Zombieland: Double Tap' Hopes to Recapture Raunchy Zombie Magic, 10 Years Later

    Audiences may have a few questions about the sequel to 2009’s hit “Zombieland,” which opens Friday. Why did it take 10 years to make a second one, after the first grossed $102.4 million worldwide on a $23 million budget, making it the third-biggest zombie movie of all time (second-biggest if you don’t count “Hotel Transylvania,” [...]

  • AMC TheatresShop signs, Los Angeles, America

    AMC Theatres Accused of Firing VP Who Complained of Gender Pay Gap

    A former vice president at AMC Theatres filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday, accusing the company of firing her after she complained that she was paid far less than her male peers. Tonya Mangels, who was vice president of product marketing, said that in March 2018 her supervisor inadvertently sent her a spreadsheet that included [...]

  • Sir Elton John poses for photographers

    Elton John Calls 'Lion King' Remake a 'Huge Disappointment'

    Elton John isn’t feeling the love for Disney’s latest live-action remake. In an interview with GQ U.K., the legendary musician criticized Disney’s remake of “The Lion King,” citing the film’s music as a “huge disappointment.” “The new version of The Lion King was a huge disappointment to me, because I believe they messed the music [...]

  • Fiddlin'

    Film Review: 'Fiddlin''

    Not many forms of music have “old-” actually built into their name as a prefix. So it’s a given that the practitioners of the 200-year-old genre known as “old-time music” will wear their antiquity proudly in “Fiddlin’,” a documentary set in and around the 80th annual Old Fiddler’s Convention in Galax, Va. What may not [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content