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‘Swan,’ ‘Speech’ costumed with kudos

'Alice' also honored at designer awards

Reflecting the wide-open nature of 2010’s awards season, “Black Swan,” “The King’s Speech” and “Alice in Wonderland” nabbed top feature kudos at the 13th Annual Costume Designers Guild Awards on Tuesday night at the Beverly Hilton.

“Swan” designer Amy Westcott won for contemporary film, “Speech’s” Jenny Beavan was honored for her period work, and “Alice’s” Colleen Atwood claimed her prize in the fantasy realm.

“This was not an easy film, I won’t lie,” said Westcott in accepting her statuette. “I’m humbled to be in this room.”

Beavan, who previously won an Oscar for “A Room With a View,” took the opportunity to pay tribute to designer John Bright and the London-based company he founded, Cosprop. “We wouldn’t be able to make films like (‘Speech’) without the costume houses.” Beavan and Atwood, a two-time Oscar winner (“Chicago,” “Memoirs of a Geisha”), are among this year’s Academy nominees. Both have been singled out by AMPAS nine times.

Since the CDG’s competitive awards were first handed out in 2000, the Guild’s and the Academy’s picks have overlapped five out of 11 instances, with the proviso that Academy voters tend to favor the more fanciful designs of period/fantasy pictures. (In fact, one would have to go back to Albert Wolsky’s work in “All That Jazz” in 1979 to find an Oscar win for contemporary clothes.)

In television, “Glee’s” Lou Eyrich (contemporary), “Boardwalk Empire’s” John Dunn and Lisa Padovani (period/fantasy) and “Temple Grandin’s” Cindy Evans (movie or miniseries) — who gave a shout-out to Western Costume — were deemed the year’s best, while Aude Bronson-Howard was given the commercial costume design statuette for a Chanel spot.

When it comes to costume designers, “black tie” takes on a whole new definition, with most of those in attendance pushing the envelope in terms of formal wear. And the crowd’s enthusiasm for each other’s work — which CDG president Mary Rose described as “a cross between magic and camouflage” — was typically boisterous, as evidenced by the reception for Julie Weiss (“American Beauty,” “Frida,” “Blades of Glory”), who was given the Disaronno Career Achievement in Film & Television award. No less than three celebrities were called up to the stage to present her award, including Demi Moore, who referred to Weiss as “the undeniable diva of design,” Diane Lane, who described her as “a detective, an explorer, a confidant and a genie,” and Billy Bob Thornton, who referenced Weiss as “one of the last avant-garde artists — the Captain Beefheart or the Frank Zappa of costume design.” Weiss prefaced her remarks to the crowd by saying “have a heart, and remember that ‘brief’ is for underwear.”

Others given honorary kudos included Halle Berry (Lacoste Spotlight), Joel Schumacher (Distinguished Collaborator) and Michael Dennison (Hall of Fame Award), who died last year.

Schumacher, who went from costume designer to screenwriter to director, said costume designers “have to be psychiatrists; everything comes out in those trailers.”

Berry, who was presented her award by Samuel L. Jackson, recalled her first encounter with a costume designer, who taught her the importance of assuming an identity other than her own. “I told her none of this feels like me,” said the actress. “and she said to me, ‘Exactly, my darling.'”

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