VOTE For The Best Costumes To Enhance Decor For Aspire’s Best-Dressed Rooms In TV And Film Awards


Photo via Liam Daniel, Netflix.

Film and television costume designers have a number of challenging tasks: defining each character, revealing their intentions, painting the colors of their emotions, advancing their story – on top of trying to please temperamental stars. But a less obvious one, if the production achieves desired seamlessness, is how costumes enhance the décor of a film.

In other words, how the costumes and production design play off each other, create a whole that is bigger than the sum of its parts. It’s collaborative, it’s conscious, it’s complementary. It is a form of art.

Here is what aspire design and home judges for “Best-Dressed Rooms in TV and Film” chose for the Best Costumes To Enhance Decor – and we hope you our audience will also vote on your favorite show, as we’ll announce the People’s Choice Award along with our final winners on April 22nd.


Photo courtesy of Phil Bray, Netflix.

The Queen’s Gambit

The 1960’s chess match sets allow the viewer to observe Beth Harmon’s changing attitudes and circumstances throughout the ten-part series – and often the clothes illustrated that evolution.

Our judges, including fashion expert Merle Ginsberg, gave countless kudos to costume designer Gabriele Binder to make Beth’s fashions swoon-worthy and modern even though the setting was the 1960s. And who was the design inspiration? Binder has said she thought of Audrey Hepburn and then later Edie Sedgwick.

More than 80% of all the costumes were handmade by the costume design team.


Photo courtesy of Phil Bray, Netflix.

As Binder told Ginsberg, “Production designer Uli Hanisch and I were a perfect match: he loves to work with pattern and I love to work with plain colors. We made up a color concept to define every location of Beth Harmon’s travel with certain color codes: like light blues for Alma’s home, ice cream colors for high school, flamboyant colors for Mexico, dark browns and greens for Moscow, etc. We had a very regular exchange of the development within our departments to make sure we were working in the same direction.”

When dealing with retro periods, designers have a harder job finding current fashions. “The costume department did not rely on any brands from today.,” says Binder. “Most of the costumes for the main characters were tailor-made, but we used some historical inspirations from big fashion houses like Dior, Balenciaga, Courreges…. and we pulled period costumes from many costume rentals around the globe.”


Photo via Netflix.

As Ginsberg noted, early on Beth was dressed in black and white to play up the chess competitions, but towards the end of the series, the now triumphant prodigy gets some exquisite coats, one optically pop art black and white handbag (more chess) – with every single look complimented her flaming red bob and winged eyeliner. The best look was last: Beth’s all-white large buttoned coat, white beret and white gloves. Some of her costumes played off what designer Courreges was doing in the high fashion world of the sixties – which tells you that Beth, who was not part of that world, certainly wanted to be.”


Photo via Netflix.

Actor and style icon Judge Cornelia Guest, an actress and style icon, agreed. “Chic is chic in any period and Mr. Courreges knew it. Alexandra Byrne is clearly a historian of fashion and knows her game.”


 


Photo via Niko Tavernise/HBO.

The Undoing

Many of our judges applauded the boho chic of Nicole Kidman’s wardrobe in HBO’s The Undoing which is available to stream on HBO Max

As the set decorator Keri Lederman shared, the colors of the set were focused on Nicole Kidman as her character, Grace Fraser, finds her privileged life unraveling into a tangled mess. The warm colors, oranges, greens, that were used in the Fraser apartment also appeared in her wardrobe – especially her iconic green coat that costume designer Signe Sejlund custom made.


Photo via Niko Tavernise/HBO.

“The Undoing made social media more obsessed with Nicole Kidman’s sweeping maxi coats (on the dirty streets of Manhattan, no less) than even the who-done-it plot,” notes Merle Ginsberg. “While the dramatic dark green duster coat and the burgundy velvet – plus Kidman’s almost waist length pre-Raphaelite Rapunzel curls – have zero to do with being a shrink in New York City, they portray her character’s cushy upper east side life of entitlement and naivete. The costumes drive home what the sets of Grace’s home and dad Donald Sutherland’s billionaire spread tell us: Kidman’s Grace has lived in a coddled rich girl echo chamber – till she discovers her husband’s a murdering philanderer.”


Photo via Niko Tavernise/HBO.

As Signe Sejlund says, her goal was to make the maxi coats the equivalent of a fashion shield against all that was coming at her. Expect to see lots of maxi coats in the near future or at least textured fabrics. Aside from the custom green coat, there was also a Burgundy coat from Max Mara and a lovely teal wrap coat. And notice how Sejlund outfitted Grace’s friend Sylvia in neutral coats that were chic but not attention-grabbing which added to the later twist of the plot.

Because the costumes brought along the characters in such a beautiful way, this HBO show’s costume designer not only got votes but it seems is clearly a trendsetter too. And let’s not forget the gorgeous shimmering green and copper Givenchy dress that she wore at the gallery opening. What a show stopper.


Photo via Niko Tavernise/HBO.

As Cornelia Guest said, “Dressing Nicole Kidman is every costume designer’s dream since she knows how to wear clothes so beautifully. She always looks stunning.”


 


Photo via Pop TV.

Schitt’s Creek

Just like decor must have contrasts, so does costumes in a show.

Schitt’s Creek has a field day with characters Moira, David and Alexis Rose, contrasting the crazy high fashion of their former (privileged) lives with the dreary motel of their current (poor) circumstances,” notes Ginsberg.

“The rundown Schitt’s Creek motel is shabby, dull a bit dirty. But it’s completely brightened by Catherine O’Hara’s (Moira Rose) over-the-top Boho flamboyant wardrobe, wigs, makeup, jewelry, shoes. David and Alexa’s costumes were also crazy fun: his printed sweaters, natty glasses and gelled-up hair; Alexa’s pale filmy femme-y dresses and high heels, utterly inappropriate in small-town life. These flamboyant fish out of water is what give the series its pop of color – in a bleak colorless setting.”


Photo via Pop TV.

In fact, the show’s creator Dan Levy said that wardrobe, “is probably the most important element in storytelling, outside of actual writing.” Furthermore, he also said that he wanted fashionistas to be able to look at fashion and identify trending clothing or brands. Hence O’Hara as Moira Rose is often dressed in Alexander McQueen, Givenchy and Balenciaga. Her daughter Alexis has a more boho fun look and our judges noticed Celine and Chloe.


Photo via Pop TV.

This of course plays into working not with – but against – the setting which judges recognized as something noteworthy.


 


Photo via Amazon Studios.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Judges commented on how “happy” the costumes were for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. And unlike other shows where costumes have to blend into the scenery, the mission here is for the costumes to be their own character. The colors must literally pop off the screen.

“My collaboration from the beginning has been an instinctual attraction to certain colors and the rhythm of how they appear,” says costume designer Donna Zakowska. “I think of it as a nearly musical sensibility that has aligned with that of Bill Groom, our production designer. Our attraction to very specific tone and hues of colors has been strangely second nature for us.”


Photo via Amazon Studios.

“We really profoundly understand the power of an apricot versus orange, we’re both very excited by the impact of those choices – we could be characterized as color junkies. We understand their power and emotional effect on the viewer.”

Some judges even commented on how they would like to revive some of the fashions Zakowska created.

“The period of time depicted on the show – the early sixties – was an incredible period with distinctive sculptural shapes that really enhance the scenic value of the garments,” adds Zakowska. “All of the principal costumes for the show are ninety percent designed and built; I have various costume builders that I’ve worked with in New York. Many of the fabrics and details are from England and Europe, or as in the case of the Paris sequence, small vendors often from the flea market.”


Photo via Amazon Studios.

The results are that the outfits also have so many great accessories.

“Midge, a sometimes bawdy stand up comic, has a color palette (and hats!) (and purses!) that matches her motor mouth: bright, loud, sharp – but somehow always loveable,” says Ginsberg. “Her clothes are her inner life. And her outer life – even more than her home and the clubs she frequents.”


 

Emma.

Judges were blown away by the work of Emma’s newly minted Oscar nominee Alexandra Byrne, who went for a full-color gamut of pastels on screen, giving the whole film a kind of English garden party charm and whimsy.

While the silhouette of the costumes and shapes of the furnishings are mostly honest to Jane Austen’s English countryside of 1815, it’s all filtered, with great effort, through the capricious imaginations of Byrne and Emma production designer Kave Quinn.


Photo via Box Hill Films/IMDB.

“Color was a key element to the designs for Emma,” Byrne tells ASPIRE. “I developed a seasonal palette for Emma herself – she has the status and privilege to have the right clothes for every season/day and occasion. People within her sphere reflect or counter her style.”

Of the collaboration with the set’s décor, Byrne describes, “I worked very closely with production designer Kave Quinn to play into Kave’s color choices for the locations and interiors. By using color, scale and pattern, we could make characters at ease or at odds with their environments. Talking with director Autumn DeWilde, I understood her love of clothes, fabrics and colors; I knew that we would need to make most of the clothes.”


Photo via Box Hill Films/IMDB.

Initially, she was out of her comfort zone working in pastels. “But then I began to understand that I needed an exact tone of pink to work with an equally exact tone of yellow! I worked closely with CosProp in London to explore the period through fitting existing stock in order to understand shape, proportion, color, movement and scale on the actors. From these fittings, we moved forward into actually making the clothes.”


 


Photo via Liam Daniel, Netflix.

Bridgerton

In Bridgerton, Shonda Rhimes’ London of 1816 isn’t exactly factual: it was never so colorful, frothy – and let’s face it, sexy.

Since production designer Will Hughes Jones and set decorator Gina Cromwell were using blues to show the aristocratic roots of the Bridgerton family in the Regency-designed estate, the costumes by Ellen Mirojnick were often in the blue family with lace floral designs subtly woven in.


Photo via Liam Daniel, Netflix.

Will Hughes-Jones told flowerpowerdaily that he often took the lead from Mirojnick’s jaw-dropping floral embellished empire dresses and jewell embellishments for the ladies of the court. In fact, one time he even dyed the florals in the background in a dance scene to better complement one of Daphne Bridgerton’s dresses.

For other ladies of the court, flowers are subtlety sewn into lace designs or hair accessories such as with Lady Danbury, who was the best friend of the Duke of Hastings’ mother.

To illustrate the striving needs of the Featheringtons, their house was more yellow and the costumes of the women reflected that choice.


Photo via Liam Daniel, Netflix.

When asked whose clothes were the most fun to create, Mirojnick doesn’t need a lot of time to ponder.

“Phillipa Featherington,” one of the “sad-sack” daughters of the wannabe Featheringtons.

“A lot of the dresses we did for Phillipa Featherington were over flowered,” says Mirojnick. “There was an audaciousness about using oversized flowers that fit her character. I love all her dresses that have that element, besides being audacious they have a fashion-forward feel.” One of her favorites is this lavender dress that “has trapped flowers within the two layers of organdy.


Photo via Liam Daniel, Netflix.

Judges pointed out how Portia Featherington’s dresses were also effective in being brazen but sympathetic. The way she sashayed into a garden wearing this chartreuse silk dress lavished with purple blooms or this bold brocaded dress revealed a whiff of desperation as well as ambition and pride.

Mirojnick created 7,500 pieces for this epic production in just five months. Was it hard to create different distinctive styles for each character?

“Once you create a character and what defines them, it isn’t difficult to follow through with all creations,” she says. “The use of flowers in design is totally organic. I can’t say why except that it felt right and always added that special touch. I loved all the dresses that had floral motifs.”


Photo via Liam Daniel, Netflix.

Judges also commented on the dreamy accessories and jewelry.

“We’ve been neglecting jewelry possibilities in the hair for too long,’ says author Carol Woolton. “It’s an easy way to make a whole new look. In the show, it’s all about prettiness and tiaras, but using a mix of modern and vintage you can give it your own edge.”

In fact, Mirojnik hopes so too. “I do think the beauty of flowers in the hair in new ways will definitely be seen in the coming days,” she says.

The sets are also too pretty to be true, but that’s the point: utter escapism. Bridgerton was never about reality – it’s about a magical fantasy world where life is all about finding love and living happily ever after.

For all these reasons, these shows are the nominees for Best Costumes to Enhance Decor. Which one is your favorite?

Click here to vote in the other categories featured in aspire’s Best Dressed Rooms in TV and Film Awards.

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