The costume design race is a design dream, from the fantasy world of “Dune,” to 1970s London in “Cruella,” the iconic re-creation of legendary gowns in “Respect” and the power pants of Lucille Ball in “Being the Ricardos,” which help tell the story of a trailblazer. Designers such as Chanel collaborated for the psychological drama “Spencer,” while Gucci opened its archives to “House of Gucci.”
Here’s a look at some of the contenders.
“Being the Ricardos”
Costume designer: Susan Lyall
Lyall built a wardrobe for the performer Lucille Ball as well as the behind-the-scenes creative producer and wife Lucille Arnaz, played by Nicole Kidman. For the latter, at one point, Arnaz wears pantsuits. With the film set around a week of filming the iconic “I Love Lucy,” Lyall occasionally put Kidman in pants, even in the 1950s, a look mostly worn by female trailblazers and not the wardrobe staple of today’s women.
“She dressed like a boss and so that she did not look like Lucy Ricardo in those dresses with the high color and the prim lengths,” Lyall says. “She did wear pants as [the “I Love Lucy” character] Lucy Ricardo, which is kind of trailblazing in its own way. It was more important that she looked like a Hollywood star in beautiful California colors and very modern. She doesn’t look like a secretary. She looks like the trailblazer that she was.”
For Javier Bardem as Desi Arnaz, Lyall was aware that Arnaz was sartorially gifted and had a great understanding of the power of what he looked like — he was handsome and came from a wealthy Cuban family. Bardem was enamored by the green tuxedo jacket, which was not just an unusual color for a tux, it was also made from linen —also unusual. “It stood out,” says Lyall.
Costume designer: Jenny Beavan
Beavan was called on by Craig Gillespie for the Cruella de Vil origin story starring Emma Stone. Set in London at the height of the punk era, Beavan was tasked with her biggest project to date. In all, she created 47 costume changes for Cruella and 33 for the Baroness, played by Emma Thompson.
Her color palette was black, white, gray and red. The show-stopper was the “trash dress,” in which Cruella emerges from a garbage truck in an enormous couture creation. “We used so many old frocks and fabric and anything we could find,” she says. Another highlight was a red gown that
Cruella wears at a black and white soiree the Baroness throws. “The red dress comes at a point when Cruella has to prove a point to the Baroness. I think at one point I saw 12 people sitting around the table — students and trainees — hand-stitching petals.”
“House of Gucci”
Costume designer: Janty Yates
Gucci opened its archive to Yates, pulling a few outfits and accessories in her goal of building the film’s key costumes for its characters.
In a key scene, the wedding dress for Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga) created by Yates and fellow designer Dominic Young was inspired by Reggiani’s real-life wed- ding dress. Made from white lace appliqué, the hi-lo wedding dress had a matching long veil. The dress took almost 10 weeks to sew, with all the work done by hand.
Yates also worked with Young for the masquerade party look, a flowing red cocktail dress. It was initially much longer, but Ridley Scott wanted more leg on actress Gaga, so she trimmed 18 inches off.
Costume designer: Jacqueline Durran
“We weren’t doing ‘The Crown’ in any way, shape or form … it was about finding things that created the aura of Diana, her style or what she could have worn and putting them in the order that we wanted for the movie,” Durran says of the costumes for “Spencer,” the drama focused on Princess Diana (Kristen Stewart) and her state of mind over a Christmas break with her royal in-laws.
The standout cream dress — also used on the film’s poster — was from Chanel. An original Karl Lagerfeld creation from the mid- ’80s, “it was far too precious for us to use. Chanel said we couldn’t use it outside and that it could only be worn for a certain number of hours. In the end, they said they would make it for us in the couture workroom. They made a fantastic, perfect replica of the original, and that was the dress for the movie.”