Dayna Pink and The Costumes of Lovecraft Country

Lovecraft Country – Courtney B. Vance, Jonathan Majors and Jurnee Smollett. Photograph by Elizabeth Morris/HBO

This year, costume designer Dayna Pink was nominated for a Costume Designers Guild Award for Excellence in Period Television for her recent work on the hit HBO original television show, Lovecraft Country. Before Lovecraft Country, Dayna has enjoyed a widely successful career, designing costumes for film such as Bumblebee, Bad Boys For Life, Baywatch, Crazy, Stupid, Love., Fame, and Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny! I was honored with an opportunity to speak with Dayna about her career, inspiration, and her incredible costumes for Lovecraft Country. Please enjoy!

Spencer: Hi, Dayna! I’m so happy to finally meet you and congratulations on your nomination!

Dayna: Hi! It’s so nice to meet you as well.

Spencer: Thank you so much for joining me. Before we talk about Lovecraft Country and your recent Costume Designers Guild Award nomination, I would just love to hear a little bit about your journey to becoming a costume designer and what moved you in that direction? 

Dayna: I started as a stylist. I grew up and lived in Detroit and I started styling bands and doing music videos. I then moved to L.A. to style for bands and I did a Tenacious D music video, it was called “Tribute”. (Editors Note: Since this interview, I have listened to this song one thousand times.) It was so funny and amazing. After the music video, they were going to do a movie, and they sent me the script, and the same director from the video was doing it. He sent me the script and I was doing a lot of commercials and at that time doing a million things at once. I asked myself, “do I want to do a movie and take myself out of being available for whatever it is, four months, five months, six months?” 

Suddenly I’m sitting across the table from this producer and director, I realized that this wasn’t just about what they were wearing, but why they were wearing it and where they had gotten it. This was about being a storyteller as much as putting clothes on somebody and that it still makes the hair on my arms stand up. That idea of actually contributing to something and being a storyteller changed the way I looked at everything. So, you know, even if Jack Black shows up in a T-shirt off the bus coming across the country, what does it say about him? It changed the trajectory of my career. I continued in styling and I still style now actually.  I still have some clients that I dress, but realizing that being a filmmaker, being a storyteller, what we do means something, that was a cool moment for me. 

Spencer: That’s one of the reasons why I love working in costume design so much. Costume designers are storytellers. Our favorite films, television shows, plays, wouldn’t be possible without the costume designer’s vision.

Dayna: That’s amazing. I love that. 

Spencer: Throughout the pandemic, a lot of people have had a hard time staying inspired, finding creativity. How do you stay inspired and connected to your creativity?

Lovecraft Country – Naomi Mack, Jurnee Smollett, Wunmi Mosaku, Keon Mitchell and Jonathan Majors. Photograph by Eli Joshua Ade/HBO

Dayna: For the first six months I did not work. I stayed home and I had come off of a year and a half on the road, then the pandemic hit. At first, it was terrible and scary, yet it was sort of restful and introspective. I  read some books, watched things on television and I watched movies. We had time to sit and think about our lives. It was a time of kind of refilling for me. Then back in August, I started a little movie that Channing Tatum directed called Dog, Channing starred in it and directed it. It was such a gift because it was a controlled, beautiful little project. After that, I did a pilot and worked with Steve Carell for The Morning Show. I’ve managed to stay busy and stay home at the same time, which has been nice. 

Spencer: You mentioned that during the pandemic you were indulging yourself in different books, films, and shows…I sense a bit of creative escapism. You reminded me of the character, Atticus (Played by Jonathan Majors), from Lovecraft Country. So, let’s talk about Lovecraft Country, shall we? 

This show was a huge project. When I first started watching the show, I kind of chalked it up as a period drama. Lovecraft Country is SO much bigger than a period drama. There is science-fiction, horror, monsters, comic books, literature, America, France, Korea, space, drag queens, ghosts… just to name a few elements. It’s very impressive. I want you to first speak to what was your reaction was when you first started on this project if you could?

Lovecraft Country – Jurnee Smollett, Jonathan Majors and Courtney B. Vance. Photograph by Eli Joshua Ade/HBO

Dayna: I was brought in to have a meeting for the pilot first, and the pilot was cool. It was period and said really important things. I was drawn to it. My idea for it was to route everything in the period. Understand the period and that’s the place you start. But because there’s a fantasy aspect to this, you get to go different places that you wouldn’t normally go. So not everything was accurate. I loved doing the pilot so much that I just couldn’t imagine not doing the whole show after that. I never thought I would do a whole show. “Oh, I’m doing this, this is happening.” 

Then reading every episode going forward, now there’s a drag ball, now we’re in Paris with dancers. It was overwhelming to read all the things you were going to have to do, but it was over a long period. It was like a hamster on a wheel. We just kept going and going and going. Next thing you know, we’re done with this episode and we are wondering what’s happening next? 

Lovecraft Country – Jonathan Majors and Jurnee Smollett. Photograph by Eli Joshua Ade/HBO

Spencer: How long were you on this project? After finishing the show, I figured it must have taken a lifetime to costume this story.

Dayna: Probably 10 months, not including the pilot.

Spencer: It’s beautiful, it’s massive. It’s like every episode was its own, individual movie. Each episode could have lived completely on its own.

Dayna: Thank you for saying that. That’s how we thought of it. You know, we just made ten little movies. 

Spencer: Lovecraft Country is based on a novel by Matt Ruff, and a combination of short stories by the author, H.P. Lovecraft. So much of it also references famous literature such as Dracula, A Princess of Mars, and The Count of Monte Cristo. There’s also a lot of photographic references which I thought were amazing, such as the Gordon Parks’s Department Store, Mobile, Alabama. What sort of research and references were you looking at as you were bringing this project together?

Dayna: Of course, we researched the period first. We did everything we could to find all the real photos and, of course, the photographers of the time such as Gordon Parks. Two things were happening at the same time. What was it really? And what do we want it to be? We were taking those two things and putting them together. There were moments where we absolutely honor the things that really happened, like those Gordon Parks photos that we created. We tried to be as close to those as we could. We looked at those and historical moments that happened. Emmett Till’s funeral, the Tulsa Race Massacre, those moments we tried to honor and step away from. We didn’t do an interpretation of them. We tried to recreate them. 

Then there’s everything else. We had room to add our little special sauce. Both things are true, right? Some things happened that we wanted to honor and then there were things like, well shouldn’t Leti (Played by Jurnee Smollett) be wearing a crazy shirt with that outfit? When you first see Leti come to the block party, that was based on a Dior outfit that I had found from that time in my research. So there were things that were rooted and referenced and then some we just took it to our trajectory. 

Lovecraft Country – Wunmi Mosaku and Jurnee Smollett. Photograph by Elizabeth Morris/HBO

Spencer: It’s amazing to me how, in those moments where you were focused on recreating, how accurate and detailed you were. For example, the Gordon Parks photo side by side is uncanny. 

Since we started talking about Leti, we have to talk about her wardrobe or the fans will be mad at me! *laughs* I love Leti. Her wardrobe is amazing. You could tell that she loves to just play dress-up. It feels as though her costumes aren’t always appropriate for the moment. But she doesn’t care and she’s just living.

Dayna: That’s exactly right. You know, with most characters, you ask yourself the questions, where did they get this, and how long have they had it? But with Leti, the sky is the limit because she would have gotten whatever she wanted, regardless of how she was going to get it. That’s what we kind of did with her. We didn’t put limits on what she could or couldn’t wear. We just had so much fun with the moment. What does she want to look like? Her wardrobe deconstructs as the show goes on, towards the end, she’s wearing Atticus’s clothes. She gets more casual. She’s in a sweatshirt. She’s in a t-shirt. But, the whole beginning of the series, she’s full-on wearing whatever she wants when she likes. Jurnee was amazing, and dressing her was awesome. 

Spencer:  She looked amazing in every episode. It’s like she takes your breath away every time she comes on screen. One thing I noticed and loved about the costuming was the vibrant colors. Was that intentional?

Dayna: It was intentional. We wanted certain characters to pop in certain moments. The background is softer and creamy, less primary colors. But our characters, our heroes have some brighter colors. And you’re going to notice them. 

Spencer: There’s another character I want to talk about, Christina Braithwhite (Played by Abbey Lee Kershaw). You don’t trust her. You’re pretty positive she’s evil, but you can’t put your finger on it. She has that Glenn Close, Cruella De Vil feel, where you know you’re not supposed to like her, but her fashion is beyond so you can’t help it that you kind of want to hang out with her. 

Dayna: She’s more forties inspired to me and darker in a way, crispier. I wanted to create closets and pieces for our characters that you want to show. Atticus is wearing a t-shirt, but you want to touch it. You want to feel it. What is it? It’s soft. I created costumes for Christina that you wouldn’t want to touch necessarily. You want to appreciate them from here. She has the hats and always in heels and you know, it’s a harder kind of vibe than Leti or Ruby Baptiste (Played by Wunmi Mosaku), who was also amazing and fun to dress and super sexy. We got to make all of her clothes. That was so much fun. 

Spencer: Also, super colorful too! I loved all the prints that Ruby was in. 

So you were nominated for a Costume Designers Guild Award for Excellence In Period Television, the credit was attributed to episode seven, “I Am”. We could probably do a whole interview around this episode. It’s amazing. 

In this episode, Hippolyta (Played by Aunjanue Ellis) travels through the science-fiction realms of the multiverse. She meets an entity known as Beyond C’est (Played by Karen LeBlanc), and goes on an incredible journey of self-discovery, through many different realms! Hippolyta ends up in Paris, dancing with Josephine Baker, and partying with Frida Kahlo. We then travel to The Kingdom of Dahomey where Hippolyta is training and ends up leading the fight against a large army of soldiers. But wait, there is more! We end with Hippolyta traveling to the comic book world of Orithyia Blue where she’s wearing a terrific orrery dress with that blue hair. Let’s talk about this episode. There’s so much going happening here, it’s living art!

Dayna: What was cool was we did have a while to think about it because this was a later episode. So I got to think about that over a long period and come up with ideas like her astronaut outfit with the orrery, how could I turn that into a costume somehow?

Spencer: I love that dress and I love this retro view of the future.

Dayna: Because they were in a world inspired by a comic book! The cool thing about all those different looks was that they didn’t have to even be from one eye, even though it is my perspective. Then there’s just the rest of the episode, which is the 50s. There are all these different elements in that episode and the Beyond C’est character which was fantastical as we could make it fun. Then we gave a fresh perspective to the dancers. The dancer’s costumes were made in our costume department, we had people gluing on feathers, all the different pieces. We didn’t get finished until three o’clock in the morning…the night before. 

Lovecraft Country – Carra Patterson as Josephine Baker. Photo courtesy of HBO

Spencer: The night before? That is incredible!

Dayna: Yes! Then there it was. The girls were all on stage, these beautiful girls in the costumes. After all that work, it was such a beautiful moment for us to watch. Like, wow, look what we did!!

Spencer: It felt so real and authentic like you had been preparing for this scene with Josephine Baker and dancing costumes your entire life. It was amazing. Now, let’s talk about The Kingdom of Dahomey. Also, another really beautiful scene. Hippolyta had on what looked like Grecian-inspired armor at one point. I also LOVED the use of the traditional, African cowrie beading. Tell me about the research you did for this scene?

Dayna: Yeah, you’re right. All those things you said are exactly what we did. We researched all different places and we kind of combined them into one. Everything was also made in our offices. We molded the leather, beaded shell by shell, and bit by bit. Everybody was made to look different. We even made the helmet for Hippolyta, we made it all. That shell necklace for the queen I bought from an antique furniture store. It was a piece hanging on the wall that was kind of on a stand. And I looked at it and I said. The queen’s going to wear that. 

Spencer: I am obsessed with that. I can’t imagine, your mind is amazing.

Dayna: Everyone was saying, you’re going to have to take it apart. It’s so heavy. There’s no way. It’s so big. I just kept saying, oh no, this is completely happening. I also wanted to respect those fabrics. Everything means something, and so I don’t want to dishonor any piece of history or any piece that means something to a culture. However, at this moment we had a cool opportunity to be creative. With full respect, I wanted to take those pieces and maybe do something a little different than what they’re normally worn for. For example, if a dress was traditionally for a wedding, maybe that’s not what we did with it. We gave it our own little twist. 

Spencer: Well to your great credit, it was very beautiful and felt very true, and thoughtful. It was honestly one of my favorite episodes of a TV show I have watched in a long time. Not to sound too much like a fan, but I am thankful for you and this body of work. 

Dayna: Wow. That’s amazing to me. Thank you. Well just after that episode, we all looked at each other because you’re nothing without your team and we all did this together. I mean, I don’t know how many people had a glue gun, but everybody’s paintbrush helped. Everybody brings their best self and everybody wanted it to look amazing. We just stood there looking at the stage with these people, looking at those warriors…the scene where Hippolyta is backstage with Frida Kahlo and all the extras. We just looked at that stage of all these people and thought, “Oh, I’d like to be at that party”.

Spencer: I thought the same thing. I don’t know what they’re drinking or what’s going on, but I know I want to be there!

Dayna: We knew that we were doing something magical. Then to take it one step further Misha Green (Showrunner and Executive Producer), whose mind gave birth to this, was saying something way bigger than, “oh, what are they wearing?” She was saying something so important and we were helping to tell that story, which is a way bigger story than these little pieces that we were doing. So not only were we excited about our work, but we were excited about being on a path, on a journey to say something that we all thought was so important. It was a very special job. 

Lovecraft Country – Michael K. Williams as Montrose Freeman. Photograph by Eli Joshua Ade/HBO

Spencer: I also have to mention the drag ball. You must have had the biggest team ever, everyone, grab a glue stick and glue gun. There’s so much to do. 

Dayna: You should have seen it. Every single person on the crew was either in a boa or a turban. Everyone had some crazy accessories on! It’s a dream. I mean, these jobs do not come up very often. I don’t take it for granted. I’m super grateful for being able to do and create all the things that we did. 

Spencer: I am excited to move on to this next topic! I am a big horror nerd. I love scary movies. This show fed my soul! There was lots of blood, lots of guts. I don’t know of many shows that had so much blood, perhaps The Walking Dead? It was excessive, and I LOVED it! What people don’t realize though is that this presents a unique challenge for the costume department. Can you talk about the aging process? You must have had fake blood everywhere.

Lovecraft Country – Photograph by Eli Joshua Ade/HBO

Dayna: Oh we did, we definitely did. Sometimes we built things, we designed outfits because we knew that they were going to get bloody like Leti’s cream-colored outfit. We knew that it was going to be covered in blood. So we thought about where’s it going to end up, and how bloody is it going to be. This is also the time to think about multiples. That’s another reason that you make everything. You can’t go to a vintage store and say, oh, I need eight of that shirt. That doesn’t exist. So we had to make everything, and we had to make multiples of everything because of all the blood. 

Spencer: This sounds exhausting, but I am living for it. You also had to create a lot of costumes for the ghosts and monsters. There was an episode where there was, eight different ghosts. Later on, we see the spirits of Topsy and Bopsy. I am still terrified. I just… wow.

Lovecraft Country – Bianca Brewton and Kaelynn Gobert-Harris as Topsy and Bopsy. Photograph by Eli Joshua Ade/HBO

Dayna: We did it all. The ghosts, Topsy and Bopsy… we made those, and those were actually made out of silk. They looked like potato sacks but really it was beautiful silk that we had printed on. Also, in episode four where the characters are in that shipwreck-like setting, we costumed the characters sitting around the table on the ship. We just made everything all the wardrobe that you see was us, everything. 

Spencer: I am so amazed, just masterful work. I might not have been able to sleep afterward but it was well worth it. 

The last topic I wanted to discuss with you, not only did you recreate a 1950’s America, you later have to recreate South Korea at the very beginning of the Korean War. It was tragic, but it was tragically beautiful in the sense that the costumes were just so lovely to look at. Actress Jamie Chung who played the Kumiho, Ji-Ah, I was obsessed with her coats and all of the nurse outfits.

Lovecraft Country – Jamie Chung as Ji-Ah. Photograph by Eli Joshua Ade/HBO

Dayna: I love her. I loved dressing her. I loved that episode, I thought it was so beautiful. We definitely took a little liberty there and we did have somebody there who was guiding us through what was traditional, and what isn’t traditional. There were things that we knew were not traditional, but they were all in the spirit of what they did for the period and the setting. We took some liberties with the pants and similar things. We wanted to create in the same way, something grounded and based in the period in something that was our own. And so that’s what we did. I think that was one of the most beautiful episodes, I really do. 

Spencer: I agree. The way it all came together was incredible. 

Well, that’s it for Lovecraft country. I can launch thousands of questions at you…I’ll never stop. On a final note, The Art of Costume is followed by a lot of nerds like myself, but also aspiring costume designers and overall creatives. So I have to ask you the famous question, of course. What advice would you give to someone who’s reading this, who maybe wants to move into costuming, styling, or anything in a creative field?

Dayna: I think if you love something and you want to do it, then do it. I didn’t have a traditional path to get where I am. You know, I was a model when I was young and I loved clothes. People used to put clothes on me and I would say, maybe put this with that! I just loved clothes. That’s what I wanted to do. So I didn’t do it the way that other people do it. I think that’s OK. Whatever path gets you there, is the right path. 

Lovecraft Country – Wunmi Mosaku as Ruby Baptiste. Photograph by Eli Joshua Ade/HBO

If you love it then my best advice is to say yes to everything, figure out the details later. That’s my best advice. I said yes to everything in Detroit when I started. Sometimes you had to do costumes, makeup, and script. So I would sit on a set, first I would do the makeup, then I would do their hair, then I would get them dressed and then I would go out there and I would take script notes and I made one hundred dollars a day. That’s what I did because what I wanted to do was costumes. But to get there, that’s what I had to do. So someone would say, are you busy tomorrow? I would say I’m available. Yeah. 

Spencer: What do you need me to do? 

Dayna: Exactly. There are things that I do because I love what I do. I don’t think I will ever get to a place that I feel like I can just, you know, be so picky. I feel very honored to be able to have the opportunities that I do, I don’t take them for granted. But I got here by saying yes. 

Spencer: Dayna that is such lovely advice. Thank you for saying that. That’s terrific advice. Thank you, Dayna, this was so fun and I’m very glad I got this opportunity to talk with you. Congratulations on the CDGA nomination. Your work on Lovecraft Country was amazing and I am just thankful we got to talk about it. 

Dayna: Thank you for saying that. I can’t tell you how it feels to work on something and be creative and feel proud to have been part of something. It was such an important show for me and I’m super grateful to have had the opportunity to do it. 

From showrunner and executive producer Misha Green, HBO’s drama series LOVECRAFT COUNTRY is available to stream on HBO Max. Thank you again to CDGA nominee Dayna Pink for this enlightening conversation.

For more in-depth conversation about Lovecraft Country, I HIGHLY recommend the incredible HBO sponsored podcast, “Lovecraft Country Radio” – hosted by Ashley C. Ford and Lovecraft Country writer Shannon Houston as they share their thoughts on the ties between the horror genre and Black culture and explore how the show’s themes connect to contemporary social issues.

(Ashley and Shannon, if you are reading this… please continue the podcast. I need your commentary in my life forever… I volunteer Buffy the Vampire Slayer as tribute.)

The 2021 Oscar Nominations – Best Costume Design

Anya Taylor-Joy starring in Emma. is a 2020 period comedy-drama film directed by Autumn de Wilde

They are here! I am excited to share with you all the coveted list of this year’s Oscar nominations for Best Costume Design. Congratulations to these five talented costume designers! Over the next month, The Art of Costume team will be providing you an in-depth look at each of these wonderful films. Be sure to read along, and watch the 93rd Academy Awards on Sunday, April 25th, 2021 – 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM.

Emma. – Costume Design by Alexandra Byrne 

Anya Taylor-Joy starring in Emma. is a 2020 period comedy-drama film directed by Autumn de Wilde

Emma. – Following the antics of a young woman, Emma Woodhouse, who lives in Georgian- and Regency-era England and occupies herself with matchmaking – in sometimes misguided, often meddlesome fashion- in the lives of her friends and family.

Mank – Costume Design by Trish Summerville 

Amanda Seyfried starring in Mank – Directed by David Fincher

Mank – 1930s Hollywood is reevaluated through the eyes of scathing wit and alcoholic screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz as he races to finish “Citizen Kane.”

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – Ann Roth

Viola Davis starring in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, a 2020 American drama film directed by George C. Wolfe and written by Ruben Santiago-Hudson

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – Tensions rise when trailblazing blues singer Ma Rainey and her band gather at a recording studio in Chicago in 1927.

Mulan – Bina Daigeler 

Yifei Liu starring in Mulan – directed by Niki Caro.

Mulan – “To save her ailing father from serving in the Imperial Army, a fearless young woman disguises herself as a man to battle northern invaders in China.”

Pinocchio – Massimo Cantini Parrini

Pinocchio is a 2019 Italian fantasy film, co-written, directed and co-produced by Matteo Garrone

Pinocchio – “Geppetto’s puppet creation, Pinocchio, magically comes to life with dreams of becoming a real boy. Easily led astray, Pinocchio tumbles from one misadventure to another as he is tricked, kidnapped and chased by bandits through a wonderful world full of imaginative creatures – from the belly of a giant fish, to the Land of Toys and the Field of Miracles.”

A Conversation with Nancy Steiner – Promising Young Woman

Event Description from FIDM:

Costume Designer Nancy Steiner’s new film, Promising Young Woman starring Carey Mulligan, is predicted to be a 2021 Oscar contender. Please join us for a fun, hour-long conversation with the esteemed costume designer, hosted by FIDM Fashion Design Co-Chair Nick Verreos, and learn about her incredibly successful career. You’ll have a chance to submit your own costume design questions, so we encourage you to come prepared.

About Special Guest, Costume Designer Nancy Steiner: Steiner’s wide range of work in film and television speaks for itself from her work with Sofia Coppola on cult films The Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation to further auteur filmmaker collaborations including Yorgos Lanthimos on The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Mike White on his HBO series Enlightened, and David Lynch for his Twin Peaks 2017 reboot.

She has been nominated for a Costume Designers Guild award twice for Excellence in Contemporary Feature Films for Shopgirl and Little Miss Sunshine, and won twice for Excellence in Commercial Costume Design on campaigns for Bacardi & Cola and Call of Duty.

Steiner began her career in the world of music videos designing costumes for some of the most influential artists around including Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, R.E.M., Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bjork, Sheryl Crow, Stone Temple Pilots, Air, No Doubt, David Bowie and Rolling Stones just to name a few. She continues to work on award-winning commercial campaigns and is currently in production on the Amazon pilot A League of Their Own with director Abbi Jacobson.

About Your Host, Nick Verreos: Nick Verreos is the co-chair of FIDM’s Fashion, Theatre Costume, and Film & Television Costume Design programs. He is also co-designer of the Los Angeles brand NIKOLAKI, which has been worn by Katy Perry, Carrie Underwood, and Beyoncé. In addition, he is the consulting producer for Bravo’s Project Runway; an author of fashion, pattern making, and sketching books; and the face of the popular YouTube channel “Fashion School with Nick Verreos.”

The 78th Golden Globe Awards – Best Dressed

Another day, another pandemic red-carpet! After everything we have been through during this past year, I am just grateful that we even got to watch The Golden Globes. Hey, at least I don’t have to feel guilty this year watching from home in sweatpants. This time, it wasn’t my fault! There were not as many celebrity appearances as we are normally used to, but there were still quite a few fashionable moments to rave about! As always, I have put together a collection of my favorite looks. I hope you will enjoy it, then let me know your favorites in the comments below! Cheers to the beginning of awards season!

Andra Day – Chanel

Credit: Myriam Santos; Courtesy HFPA

I think this is my favorite Andra Day look, and that is saying a lot because continuously sets the bar very, very high! Andra Day won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama for her role in The United States vs. Billie Holiday, all while wearing this beautiful Chanel dress.

Angela Bassett – Dolce & Gabbana

Photo by Todd Williamson via Getty Images

Angela Bassett is just the greatest and I honestly don’t think I have ever left her off my list of favorite looks. She may have only been a presenter, but was the real winner tonight, wearing a purple Dolce & Gabbana gown.

Amanda Seyfried – Oscar De La Renta

Credit: Marcus Mam

Woah! I was speechless when I first saw Amanda Seyfried wearing this coral-colored Oscar De La Renta gown. I am obsessed with this gown on her, by far my favorite Amanda Seyfriend red-carpet moment, ever!

Catherine O’Hara – Vera Wang

This was likely Catherine O’Hara’s final award show appearance for Schitt’s Creek so of course, it makes the perfect amount of sense for her to pay the ultimate tribute to our hero, Moira Rose! Catherine wore a black and white Vera Wang suit, as she won the Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy TV Series award, her first Golden Globe award!

Gillian Anderson – Christian Dior

Credit: Andreas Ortner

The incredible Gillian Anderson might have been watching from home, but that did not stop her from giving one of the stronger couture moments of the evening. Before winning the award for Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries or Television Film for her role as Margaret Thatcher in The Crown, we got to bask in the glory that is this Christian Dior gown with a fierce, skull emblem bodice.

Laura Dern – Givenchy

Credit: HFPA/HANDOUT/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

I loved this Givenchy suit Laura Dern wore to The Golden Globes. It was a simple, classic suit that was really just quite stunning. Also, I was just really excited to see Laura Dern because she is perfect.

Laverne Cox – Thai Nguyen

Credit: Courtesy of Laverne Cox/Instagram

I am a big Laverne Cox fan. She really said, “what pandemic?” and gave us one of her top red-carpet looks to date. This Thai Nguyen gown is stunning. Like the rest of the world, Laverne has been open about her love for the new Netflix show, Bridgerton. Well Laverne, tonight you are the diamond of the season! (Wow, that was pretty nerdy.)

Regina King – Louis Vuitton

Credit: Matt Sayles

Oh wow, Regina King looked amazing. I mean this is really not a surprise, she always looks amazing. I feel robbed knowing that I didn’t get to see Regina rock this Louis Vuitton gown down the red carpet. This is best-dressed material! I am obsessed.

Sarah Paulson – Prada

Photo: Courtesy of @karlawelchstylist

I’m sorry, if you thought an injury would keep Sarah Paulson from dominating the red-carpet, you are so mistaken. Not only did we get to see Sarah in one of the most beautiful Prada gowns ever, but she had her arm in a custom Prada cast as well. Now that is iconic.

Shira Haas – Chanel

Credit: Matt Sayles

I thought Shira Haas looked so good in this black Chanel dress! I loved the simple square-neck silhouette. It was simple, yet modern and edgy. Sometimes less is more and Shira wore this dress perfectly.

Viola Davis – Lavie by CK

Courtesy of Pomellato

Easily one of my favorite looks of the night. Viola Davis wore a color, exquisite gown constructed prints inspired by Cameroon. The designer of this gown is Claude Kameni, an emerging Cameroon-born, LA-based designer who has been on a quest to bring African prints to the forefront of fashion. All hail the queen!

See, that was pretty fun, wasn’t it! It’s time for me to pick my top three looks of the night. Ugh, this is pretty hard actually. I can’t settle on just three. Well, it’s my column so I make the rules, I am picking my top four and you will deal with it!

These four were just so good! If I had to pick a favorite though, I think it would be Viola Davis in Lavie by CK. I am just obsessed with the prints! So good!

Whether you think I got everything right, or maybe you think I need to lay-off the Trader Joe’s wine, please leave your thoughts in the comments! I would love to hear who wore your favorite look! Have a great week everyone, and please stay safe and healthy! Thank you all for reading.

Ruth E. Carter: Afrofuturism in Costume Design

Ruth E. Carter: Afrofuturism in Costume Design at SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film – Images Courtesy of SCAD FASH MUSEUM OF FASHION + FILM

The date is February 25th, 2021, and what a historic day it is! It’s officially Ruth E. Carter day in Hollywood! Today, Ruth E. Carter will become the first Black costume designer to receive a star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame, only the second costume designer to be honored with a star following Edith Head, who was honored in 1960 at the origin of this iconic landscape.

“A career spanning more than three decades in theater, cinema, and television, Carter’s depth of artistry flowing together with her creative instincts, passion for culture and history, empathy for people, enormous capacity for research, eye for detail, and ability to deliver the director’s vision while infusing her art makes her one of the most sought after and renowned costume designers in the world”

Hollywood Walk of Fame

Though the ceremony was virtual, it was still a fabulous event featuring iconic guest speakers and previous collaborators of Ruth’s, Oprah Winfrey, and Eddie Murphy. We even got to see the making of Ruth’s star! I honestly can’t think of anyone more deserving of this incredible honor. Ruth E. Carter is an icon, a mentor, and most of all, a trailblazer who serves as an inspiration not only to costume designers but all creatives hoping to build a life around their creative passions. I feel like I am speaking for everyone when I say Ruth is simply just, the greatest of all time.

“She opened a lot of doors for us. I’ve seen more people requesting Black designers this year — due to her win, but also partially due to the social climate. Even me being considered [for awards] right now is due to her winning and laying this groundwork.”

Costume designer, Charlese Antoinette Jones –

“People ask me how did I get RUTH CARTER to be my first guest on my Instagram Live show…. I tell them, I just asked! Without hesitation, Ruth said, “I’m in, let’s do this!” To me, that is Ruth. Authentic, real, and giving to the core. I am so honored to call this star my peer, and more importantly my friend.”

Costume Designer & Host of CONVOS WITH COSTUME DESIGNERS, Mandi Line

While this is all so exciting, the celebration doesn’t stop there! If you thought securing a spot on the historic, Hollywood Walk of Fame, or winning an Oscar was enough, you are so wrong! I am excited to share with you all an exciting exhibition that you can all safely visit in Atlanta, Georgia. This Winter, The Savannah College of Art and Design’s SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film opened the monumental exhibition Ruth E. Carter: Afrofuturism in Costume Design

Black Panther – Images Courtesy of SCAD FASH MUSEUM OF FASHION + FILM

Within this exhibition, you will be in the presence of costumes from generation-defining films such as Selma, Do the Right Thing, and Black Panther. Nearly four decades of Ruth’s work is currently on display! In addition to Carter’s costumes for stars such as Oprah Winfrey and Denzel Washington, “the exhibition also features garments worn by luminaries” such as Angela Bassett, Eddie Murphy, Lupita Nyong’o, Rosie Perez, Forest Whitaker, and of course, the late Chadwick Boseman, “demonstrating the varied work her career brings to the screen.”

“The award-winning museum will showcase more than 60 costumes by Carter, as well as sketches and ephemera illustrating the designer’s in-depth historical research and creative process for each project. Carter is an expert storyteller who harnesses the power of visual communication to share vital narratives exploring culture, race, and politics.

SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film
Malcom X – Images Courtesy of SCAD FASH MUSEUM OF FASHION + FILM

The Ruth E. Carter: Afrofuturism in Costume Design is so expertly curated. Honestly, when I first saw the exhibition,  I felt as though my heart stopped for a second. The pure excellence, vibrancy, and emotional power of Ruth’s work, in combination with the beautiful displays of SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film, is overwhelming in all of the right ways.

“The exhibition was created in that spirit of love of self and it serves to empower anyone with an inner creative with a passion to nurture their own voice, like I did, and are determined to share their story through their art. I want to inspire a new generation, who are already expressing the need to project a profound personal connection of diversity in storytelling and to do it authentically in a way that connects with their creative self. I want to encourage them to trust their voice and embody their Afrofuture no matter who they are or where they come from.”

Ruth E. Carter
Roots – Images Courtesy of SCAD FASH MUSEUM OF FASHION + FILM

Ruth E. Carter: Afrofuturism in Costume Design is co-curated by Rafael Gomes, director of fashion exhibitions, and Christina Frank, assistant director of fashion exhibitions, in collaboration with guest curator Julia Long. The exhibition is open now until Sept. 12, 2021. For ticketing and more information on the exhibition and SCAD FASH, please visit 

On behalf of The Art of Costume Team, I would like to congratulate Ruth once again on these incredible achievements and I look forward to many more years of your groundbreaking, innovative work. All hail the queen!

“When I was working on the many Spike Lee films, I got the nickname ‘Ruthless’ by fellow crew members who would say, ‘Hey Ruthless!’ I knew it was because I worked so hard behind the scenes, designing the many looks, gathering materials, and getting hundreds of actors in costume, connecting actor to character through fashion. I’m grateful for this opportunity to collaborate with SCAD FASH in bringing my collection together to share my career experience with everyone.”


Ruth E. Carter: Afrofuturism in Costume Design is open until Sept. 12, 2021

For ticketing and more information on SCAD FASH, please visit 

Works Cited:

Howard, Nandi. “Ruth E. Carter Will Become The First Black Costume Designer To Receive Star On The Hollywood Walk Of Fame.” Essence, Essence, 22 Feb. 2021,

“Ruth E. Carter.” Hollywood Walk of Fame, 24 Feb. 2021,

“’Ruth E. Carter: Afrofuturism in Costume Design’.” SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film, 25 Nov. 2020,

Tangcay, Jazz. “Ruth E. Carter Makes History With a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.” Variety, Variety, 24 Feb. 2021,

From Animation to Live-Action: Behind The Costumes of The Mandalorian

Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) in Lucasfilm’s THE MANDALORIAN, season two, exclusively on Disney+, © 2020 Lucasfilm Ltd. &TM. All Rights Reserved.

Going into this new year, many things seem uncertain. However, one thing I think we can all agree on is that The Mandalorian is one of the greatest shows out there. Lightsaber fights, stormtroopers, explosions, exciting worlds, new and returning characters, Baby Yoda… wait I mean, Grogu. The second season of The Mandalorian, a Disney + original, took audiences to exciting new heights. One of the more thrilling features of the second season was the introduction of characters that many Star Wars fans have come to know and love, Bo-Katan Kryze and Ahsoka Tano, two characters originating from the animated Star Wars shows, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels.

I spoke with season 2 costume designer, Shawna Trpcic, about this exciting project and the incredible task of bringing these two animated fan favorites into the live-action, Emmy Award-Winning world of The Mandalorian.

Spencer Williams: Hi Shawna! Thank you so much for talking with me and congratulations on an incredible season of The Mandalorian! I had so much fun watching each week and I miss it dearly! What was your experience like designing costumes for The Mandalorian, and now being a part of the Star Wars universe? 

Shawna Trpcic: Hi Spencer! The experience was like no other – Jon has brought together a band of incredible artists and technicians, but most importantly a group of Star Wars fans through and through. The show is fast-paced and a huge undertaking and we all want to give our all for every moment and every look – it’s the most glorious and rewarding challenge – I often squeal with childlike excitement when a costume is finished and on the actor.

Spencer: I can only imagine! So I have really been looking forward to talking to you about this. For years, some of our favorite characters have only been seen in animated television shows such as Star Wars: The Clone Wars or Star Wars: Rebels. As a costume designer, you played a big role in bringing to life some serious fan-favorites, Bo-Katan Kryze (played by Katee Sackhoff) and Ahsoka Tano (played by Rosario Dawson). What was your reaction when you realized the weight of this exciting task?

(L-R): Koska Reeves (Mercedes Varnado) and Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) in Lucasfilm’s THE MANDALORIAN, season two, exclusively on Disney+. © 2020 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved. Photo by Francois Duhamel

Shawna: I have been going to Comic-Con in San Diego for years and years, and have great respect and understanding for the legacy of these iconic characters – by staying loyal to Dave Filoni’s vision created in the animation but applying my knowledge of how a costume must work for live-action and movement – I knew we’d created something magical. When I asked Jose Fernandez at Ironhead Studios to build the armor for the two ladies I was very clear that maintaining the strong feminine shape Dave had in the animation was very important to me. 

Spencer: Can you take us through your process of adapting these two characters from animation into a live-action world? How did you decide on what elements to carry over from prior incarnations of the character’s costumes? 

Shawna: Dave guided me very carefully through the helmets – the angle of the cheekbones, the slant of the eyes, the flare at the bottom. The helmet is the first thing you see and it communicates so much – getting that right and the slight differences in the colors were imperative

The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) and Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) in Lucasfilm’s THE MANDALORIAN, season two, exclusively on Disney+. © 2020 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved. Photo by Francois Duhamel

Spencer: What sort of challenges did you face in designing these costumes? Both characters see a lot of action scenes such as gun-fights and lightsaber duels. All of this keeping in mind that there are also some intricate headpieces and armor involved.

Shawna: We did tear out a few seams in the action – also after a week of intense fighting Katee was losing weight and gaining more muscle. The uniform was shifting and frequent alterations were needed to keep the shape we intended. We did add stretch panels throughout to ease the strain on the seams

Spencer: When we first meet Ahsoka in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Ahsoka is a young padawan. Now, Ahsoka is a wise, experienced figure. I believe you can track her journey and overall character development through her costumes over the years. What was the thought process behind her style evolution seen in The Mandalorian?

Shawna: I relied heavily on Dave’s direction for her – he gave me his research that influenced his decisions and I worked off of them to create the live-action version – even going so far as to have fabric made to give her the journey worn cloak – and we made many attempts at the Jedi hood before we got it right as well.

Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) and the Magistrate (Diana Lee Inosanto) in Lucasfilm’s THE MANDALORIAN, season two, exclusively on Disney+. © 2020 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

Spencer: Is there an element to either of these two costumes that just really brought the character to life that excited you? I noticed Ahsoka had a braid tied around her belt that looked similar to her Padawan braid made of “Silka Beads”. Hmmm?  

Shawna: *laughs* It may or may not be the braid – some influences are like art – up to the interpretation of the viewer. Every detail of her costume means something and comes from her character’s evolution – but it’s important to me to let the viewer participate in the storytelling. 

Spencer: I love that, so very much! Thank you again Shawna for speaking with me! This was a lot of fun. I look forward to catching up with you again in the future.

Shawna: Thank you, Spencer!

The Child and Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) in Lucasfilm’s THE MANDALORIAN, season two. ©2020 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved. Photo by Photo by Justin Lubin

Watch the Second season of The Mandalorian, now streaming on Disney +

For another Behind The Scenes look at The Mandalorian costumes, watch Disney Gallery / Star Wars: The Mandalorian, featuring commentary by Shawna Trpcic – streaming on Disney +

A Year In Review: The Art of Costume 2020

Sarah Paulson as Mildred Ratched – Ratched. Costume Design by Lou Eyrich and Rebecca Guzzi. Credit: COURTESY OF NETFLIX

In the words of one of America’s great poets, Jake Tapper, 2020 was “a hot mess, inside a dumpster fire, inside a train wreck”. Okay well, he might have been describing one of this year’s presidential debates, but I think Jake would agree that this quote still holds.

2020 was awful, we can all pretty much agree on that. However, The Art of Costume team is hoping to start the new year with some positive reflections, and hopeful intentions for 2021. While we didn’t see as many new films, shows, or theatre productions this year… there were still plenty of great costume moments to appreciate. I gathered some members of The Art of Costume team to take a look back with me, and prepare to leave this year behind us. Enjoy!

Q: What was your favorite Costume Moment of the Year ?

Elizabeth Glass: Unorthodox. While not the most flashy or technically astounding, the costumes of Unorthodox are truly apart of the story. They help tell the story of Esty’s (played by Shira Haas) strict Hasidic Jewish upbringing where clothes have both religious and social significance to her escape to Germany where her wardrobe starts to represent who she wants to be. From behind to end they telling and supporting her story.

Mariana Sandoval: Hamilton. The ensemble singing and dancing hip hop in those stunning costumes. I just couldn’t believe what I was watching!!

Candice Silva: The entire cast of Jingle Jangle and the metallic pleated Givenchy dress worn by Nicole Kidman in first episode of The Undoing.

Csilla Szlovák: My favorite costume moment of the year was from probably either The Umbrella Academy’s second season, specifically anything that The Handler (played by Kate Walsh) wore, or from The Queen’s Gambit. They brought so much beauty to this boring, but also exhausting year and I couldn’t be more thankful for them.

Spencer Williams: The series finale of Schitt’s Creek was incredible, and I find myself thinking about it all of the time. Specifically, Moira Rose’s (played by Catherine O’Hara) clergy officiant costume. Simply the best! I also am still reeling over Mildred Ratched’s (played by Sarah Paulson) entire wardrobe from the Netflix show, Ratched. I am obsessed!

(From L to R) Unorthodox – Costume Designer, Justine Seymour. Hamilton – Costume Designer, Paul Tazewell. The Undoing – Costume Designer, Signe Sejlund. The Umbrella Academy – Christopher Hargadon. Schitt’s Creek – Costume Designer, Debra Hanson.

Q: What costumes are you looking forward to seeing in 2021 ?

Elizabeth Glass: Dune – I’m really looking forward to the costumes for the new Dune. As a massive sci-fi fan I’m always interested to see how the designer will interpret styles and pieces that don’t exist in the real world.

Mariana Sandoval: Disney’s Cruella with Emma Stone.

Candice Silva: Cobra Kai, Never Have I Ever Season 2 (CD Salvador Perez), Ryan Murphy’s Halston mini-series CD – Jeriana San Juan and The Discovery of Witches Season 2

Csilla Szlovák: I am extremely excited to see the new season of Euphoria and what the costumes will look like in the 2021 game Hogwarts Legacy. And also in general, I can’t wait to go to the theatre in the new year.

Spencer Williams: There are a few things coming out this year I am excited about! In terms of film, I am looking forward to Coming 2 America as well as the exciting new Marvel film, Eternals. I am also excited to see the costumes for WandaVision, and pretty much any Marvel or Star Wars universe show to hit Disney + this year. Oh, and the new American Horror Stories series!

(From L to R) Dune – Costume Designer, Jacqueline West. Cruella – Costume Designer, Jenny Beavan. Never Have I Ever – Costume Designer, Salvador Perez. Euphoria – Heidi Bivens. WandaVision – Costume Designer, Mayes C. Rubeo.

Q: What is your New Year’s Resolution ?

Elizabeth Glass: Rewatch tv shows less, and watch more movies!

Mariana Sandoval: I want to make the best of what 2020 taught me: don’t take anything for granted, embrace every single opportunity and create my own path.

Candice Silva: To complete all the sewing projects I have on my list, specifically the ones for Costume College’s annual conference. Fingers crossed the 2021 event isn’t canceled!

Csilla Szlovák: My new year’s resolution is just to take it easy, we made it through this dumpster fire of a year, let’s not make 2021 worse than that.

Spencer Williams: This year I want to take the time to reconnect myself with my passions. I hope to take The Art of Costume to new exciting heights this year! We have so many things we want to do this year. I want to learn a new talent this year, recently I’ve been exploring digital painting as well as DJing. Finally, I want to rid myself of “couch potato guilt”. There are a lot of good shows and films out there right now, and coming in the future! I’ll watch it all and no one is going to make me feel guilty about it!

I want to end this article by giving the biggest thank you to all of the fabulous members of The Art of Costume team. The best thing to come out of this year, was getting to know each of you. I am so lucky, and eternally grateful for our new found friendships.

On behalf of the entire team, I would also like to thank YOU, the readers who visited us throughout the year. We are just getting started here at The Art of Costume, with a lot of exciting things in store for 2021! Happy New Year’s everyone!

Alright 2020, its officially that time… for you… to Sashay Away!

Designing The Yule Ball: Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire

In 2005, Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire (Directed by Mike Newell) introduced audiences to the on-screen interpretation of The Yule Ball. The Yule Ball was always held during the midst of the famous Triwizard Tournament, a magical contest held between the three largest wizarding schools of Europe: Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Durmstrang Institute, and Beauxbatons Academy of Magic. Each school selects one champion for the tournament, but as the story goes, an extra champion is selected by the Goblet of Fire – Harry Potter (played by Daniel Radcliffe).

From L to R: Predrag Bjelac as Igor Karkaroff , Alan Rickman as Severus Snape, Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall, Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore. Photo Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

While The Goblet of Fire is a truly amazing tale, filled with dragons, romance, dark magic, and mermaids, the most magical moments of them all go back to The Yule Ball. As a true Harry Potter and costume design nerd, The Yule Ball is a conjunction of the best of two worlds, an intersection between the best of film, literature, and costume design.

Jany Temime is a French-Dutch costume designer known for her work on six of the eight films in the Harry Potter film series, including The Goblet of Fire, each of which garnered her Saturn Award nominations. She won the Costume Designers Guild Award in 2012 for the 2011 film Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2. I had the great honor of being able to get a few minutes with Jany to ask her about her experience working on the Harry Potter films and more specifically, The Yule Ball!

It was a pleasure to design the Harry Potter film costumes! We had so much fun and those 20 years have been the most exciting of my working life. I saw the little stars growing, and becoming wonderful people.

Jany Temime

The Yule Ball introduces us formally to the “dress robe”. Essentially it is a formal, exquisite version of the everyday robe worn by witches and wizards. At Hogwarts, students in their fourth year and above were expected to bring at least one set of dress robes. This brings us to our two lead characters, Harry Potter and Ron Weasley (played by Rupert Grint).

From L to R: Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley, Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter. Photos Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Ron comes from a rather poor family, so his robes were secondhand. Passed down by his… Great Aunt Tessie. Funny enough, these robes also smelled like Ron’s Great Aunt Tessie. Everyone knows this predicament when you have a relative who gives you something, perhaps a gift, and you find it to be dreadful but your mother wants you to wear it, regardless of your feelings! Ron’s dress robes are built of a rather heavy-looking textile that looks fit for curtains. The best part is, of course, the over-the-top use of ruffles! I find this costume quite amazing because it’s quite comedic but also informs us of what dress robes might have looked like in the past. Once we see everyone else at the ball, the audience quickly realizes how dated Ron’s dress robes are- which all leads back to the genius of costume designer, Jany Temime.

If Ron is wearing dress robes of the past, then Harry Potter and Cedric Diggory (played by Robert Pattinson) are wearing the modern versions of the classic dress robes. Both of these characters, who are also the two Hogwarts champions, are essentially wearing a dress robe version of the tuxedo. Harry and Cedric’s black dress robes are very sleek, and bring out the “champion” quality in each of these students. At this moment, Harry and Cedric at the top of the Hogwarts class, and they look the part.

From L to R: Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter, Robert Pattinson as Cedric Diggory, Katie Leung as Cho Chang. Photos Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

When people think about the Yule Ball, they always think about one costume, and one costume only. I am referring to the iconic pink dress that Hermoine Granger (played by Emma Watson) wears to The Yule Ball, famously shutting down all of her haters. Many of the students had such unfair and low expectations of Hermoine. Many thought she wouldn’t even come. Then the moment happens, Hermoine emerges at the top of the staircase. It is as though Hermoine lit up the entire room. It’s a real Cinderella moment, except she already has her Prince Charming on her arm, Viktor Krum (played by Stanislav Yanevski).

Hermoine wears a pink, flowy gown that just so effortlessly flows to the ground. The pink has an ombré color in the fabric, darkening as it merges into the hem. This is the moment, Hermoine has arrived. Most Harry Potter fans remember where they were at the exact moment they saw Hermoine descend down that grand staircase. I asked Jany Temime about her idea behind Hermoine’s dress.

I dressed up Hermione in pink because that is a sweet sixteen colour, and I wanted that dress to look like a girl’s dream. 

Jany Temime

From L to R: Stanislav Yanevski as Viktor Krum, Emma Watson as Hermoine Granger. Photos Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Finally, another exciting part about The Yule Ball is seeing all of the different schools coming together, the many cultures, and the dress robes they wore. Viktor Krum and the Durmstrang Institute had a more uniform look to the ball. Durmstrang shows a lot of Slavic inspiration. They sport a lot of furs and crimson colors. Very minimalist in silhouette, but dramatic in textiles and accessories such as their over-the-shoulder capes.

Fleur Delacour (played by Clémence Poésy) and Beauxbatons Academy of Magic students had a very french-couture, fashionable style and they certainly brought it to The Yule Ball. The Beauxbatons students are known for wearing very feminine, light uniforms- mostly in blues and pale colors. Fleur’s dress she brought for the Yule Ball was extraordinary. It was simple in silhouette, but you can tell that the fabric was so light and delicate. She looked like an angel.

From L to R: Henry Lloyd-Hughes as Roger Davies, Clémence Poésy as Fleur Delacour. Photo Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

We also had a few supporting characters who were chosen as dates by a few of our Triwizard Champions. Parvati and Padma Patil (played by Shefali Chowdhury and Afshan Azad) went with Harry and Ron as their dates. They honored their Indian heritage with sari-style dress robes to the Yule Ball. Cho Chang (played by Katie Leung) went with the other Hogwarts champion, Cedric Diggory, to The Yule Ball. Cho wore a beautiful, silver robe that shows fantastic Chinese influence. 

From L to R: Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley, Afshan Azad as Padma Patil, Shefali Chowdhury as Parvati Patil, Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter. Photos Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

In conclusion, the costumes designed for The Yule Ball are some of the most stunning costumes seen on the big screen. Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire will always be one of my holiday favorites. I want to give a big thank you to the legendary costume designer, Jany Temime, for taking the time to speak with me. More so, I want to thank her for her work as a costume designer, one who brought to life so many of my favorite characters and stories that shaped the early parts of my life.  Now, would it be too much for someone to ask me to the ball?

Happy Holidays Everyone!

20 Costumes to Rule Them All: The Return of The King

We have reached the conclusion of our journey! The fiery cliffs of Mount Doom are upon us, and the final piece in this costume series is here. Thank you all for reading parts one and two! If you missed them, you can catch up by following this link.

Last week, we covered the second film of the trilogy, The Two Towers. Which brings us to the next and final film, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. In comparison to the other two films, this is drama entry. We go through a lot of emotions, tears of joy, and tears of sorrow. Emotion plays a big part in developing the costumes in this film. I am so excited, let’s get to it! Behold part three of 20 Costumes to Rule Them All: The Costumes of Middle-Earth.

15. Peregrin (Pippin) Took – The Return of the King

In one of the more tragic, but beautiful scenes of the trilogy, an unlikely hero takes center stage. Peregrin Took (played by Billy Boyd), also known as Pippin, volunteered to serve the Steward of Gondor, Denethor II. He does so because he foolishly responsibility for Boromir’s death early on in the story. *cue Gandalf’s eyeroll* Denethor is a mad man and demands Faramir lead a battalion of soldiers to attack the orcs that recaptured Osgiliath. Everyone knows this is a suicide mission, but Denethor does not care. While Faramir’s battalion is slaughtered, Denethor is having himself a feast and demands Pippin sings a song.

This is where the focus on the costume of Pippin comes into play. Pippin is dressed in all black. He is obviously in the mourning, for those that are being killed and those that will. You could also say Pippin is singing in mourning of the Kingdom of Gondor. His armor bears the insignia of Gondor, The White Tree. Therefore, you can tell from the costume that we are witnessing the defeat of Gondor, even if you were watching without audio. It’s a truly beautiful, powerful scene that I think so many of us can relate to, that sinking feeling that clings on when your anxieties take hold. That feeling you get in your gut when you know something is wrong, and there is nothing you can do about it.

16. Éowyn – The Return of the King

Now we have come to one of the biggest “hell-yeah” moments of the trilogy. Remember last week when we talked about Éowyn’s character (played by Miranda Otto), growing outside of the misogynistic control of her costumes? Well, it all leads to this grand moment where Éowyn takes her life into her own control . Éowyn, despite her King’s command to avoid the battle, disguises herself in armor and goes to war. A prophecy of Middle-Earth said, that The Witch-King of Angmar would not die “by the hand of man”. Éowyn approaches the Witch-King costumed in a man’s armor. Éowyn has spent her life abiding by the rules of men, but not today. She rips off her helmet as though she is ripping away a life of being told how to dress, how to feel, and how to serve, and calmly says, “I am no man!”. After diving her sword directly into the head of the Witch-King, Eowyn single handedly destroys a monster responsible for the destruction of countless civilizations, an accomplishment made by no man. Amazing.

This is just the most perfect, full-circle moment. Though she wears what is considered a man’s armor, Éowyn shows that it doesn’t matter who fights underneath the armor. It is just armor after all. Regardless of your gender identity, race, sexuality, we are all warriors and have the power to make real change in this world, and Middle-Earth.

17. Aragorn – The Return of the King

In a dramatic transformation from when we first met Aragorn (played by Viggo Mortensen) , he is now leading the allied forces into the lands of Mordor. This costume in particular really says a lot about Aragorn’s own character development. Think about when we first saw him, cloaked and hidden from both forces of good and evil. Now, as our “knight in shining armor” wearing the insignia of Gondor, the Kingdom he is the rightful heir to, stands alone against the forces of evil. The light of the Eye of Sauron reflects upon his armor, sort of giving us the mirage of light at the end of the tunnel. It’s such beautiful imagery and a really beautiful costume.

18. Frodo and Sam – The Return of the King

We are coming to an end here, wrapping up with where we began, Frodo and Sam (played by Elijah Wood and Sean Astin). Earlier we talked about how Sam was dressed as though he was a hard worker, and Frodo was dressed as he came from a life of privilege. I think it’s really quite interesting that by the time we get to the end, their costumes have now evened out. It’s like the costume designer is saying that through his journey, Frodo learned the real trials of life and the value of hard work. Sam on the other hand, though he looks pretty beat up, Sam was already aware of the value in hard work. Sam literally carried Frodo up Mount Doom. Therefore I don’t see a whole late of change in Sam’s costume, with the exception of more dirt. It’s a proud moment, and the costumes show real transformation for both of these characters.

19. Aragorn – The Return of the King

This is the last Aragorn costume I wanted to highlight! At the conclusion of the series, we see Aragorn now being crowned King. This costume is pretty on the nose in terms of significance, essentially serves as a beautiful bow wrapping up this incredible story. The armor is incredible. Most of all, I love the crown as it looks as though there are beams of light branching out from behind the White Tree of Gondor. I think it is also important to note that some of the suspected historical and literary inspirations for Aragorn’s character are, for example, King Oswald of Northumbria, King Alfred the Great, and the figure of Christ the King. Aragorn is emerging as the savior of Middle-Earth. He didn’t do it alone, but he sure as hell led the charge.

20. Arwen – The Return of the King

The first conflict of the film is resolved by Arwen (played by Liv Tyler), and it’s only fitting that she signals the end of the story as well. At Aragorn’s coronation, Arwen steps out from behind a white banner looking as what can only be described as an angel. At this moment, Arwen is the most beautiful woman, elf, being in existence. She wears a very pale green gown, with billowing sleeves and a stunning jeweled headpiece that has the shape of a crown. Her presence means hope, not just to the characters, but to the audience that the powers of good will always overcome evil. This land can now heal. Arwen is about to become queen, but in this costume, I say she revealed herself as a goddess.

There we have it, everyone. As you can see, costume design is integral to the story of The Lord of the Rings. Almost every costume in this series holds much significance and symbolism- detailing every character, scene, and theme.

I can’t even begin to thank costume designer Ngila Dickson for her incredible work on these films. Ngila is a hero of mine and helped shape the very story that continues to inspire my life. Her work was beautiful, extravagant, and convincing. She made Middle-Earth feel real. Even when a costume was under-stated, it still had a lot to say. Her costumes told the story, and that is the true power of costume design.

Thank you for reading! I’ve been anxiously looking forward to the publishing of this three pieces and it was such a great experience. Please feel free to leave a comment, and share with your friends. Let me know what you thought, and which costumes are your favorites!

“So do all who live to see such times but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world Frodo besides evil.

Gandalf – The Fellowship of the ring

20 Costumes to Rule Them All: The Two Towers

Thank you to everyone who took the time to read part one of this exciting series! I received so many kind messages and comments about the first part, so thank you. As you can see, I am a huge nerd for The Lord of the Rings so this series really does mean a lot to me! If you missed part one, follow this link and catch up!

Last week, we covered the first film of the trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring. Which brings us to the next film, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. I am not shy when it comes to my clear favoritism towards the second film. It’s so good! We meet some new characters, new lands, comedic orcs, and one of the greatest war scenes in all of film, Battle of the Hornburg. I am so excited, let’s get to it! Behold part two of 20 Costumes to Rule Them All: The Costumes of Middle-Earth.

9. Saruman The White

Saruman (Played by Christopher Lee)  is an interesting character whose costume has a lot to say. The Lord of the Rings uses color a lot in this story to speak to the character and where they stand in the fight of good versus evil. White is traditionally a color that resembles purity, goodness, and hope. Take, for example, Gandalf the White, Galadriel, Arwen, or even that white mithril shirt that Bilbo passes down to Frodo. So, then why does Saruman wear white, when he is such an evil character? Saruman deceives the characters and the audience as someone who first presents as a force of good, but then takes a hard shift toward the dark side. When you first see Saruman in costume, you think “Oh, another friendly wizard type, just like Gandalf”. That is the genius of this costume. Plus, I don’t necessarily think that Saruman considers himself a “bad guy”, I think he sees himself MAYBE doing the right thing by aligning himself with the dark lord, Sauron. So the white robe still holds up to this idea of good, even if a character is conflicted.

10. Éowyn – The Two Towers

I’ve been excited to talk about the costumes of Éowyn (played by Miranda Otto)! I’ve seen people point to Éowyn as an example of wearing lackluster costumes. Are you kidding me? 

Let’s get this story straight. When we meet Éowyn, she is struggling to try to keep things running in the Kingdom of Rohan. Her uncle, King Théoden, has fallen very ill at the hands of Saruman. Throughout the film, Éowyn is trying to do everything she can to protect her people, by using her voice with an obvious willingness to lend her sword. But because she is a woman, she is severely looked down upon – which is a big contrast to the other leading ladies of the films such as Arwen and Galadriel.

To Rohan, Éowyn is a noblewoman, niece to the King, so I believe there is this expectation that she dress as though she is a part of the royalty. I think people expect to see her in long flowy, feminine dresses. Perhaps there is not a lot of flair to her dresses, because Éowyn doesn’t care about wearing the fanciest dress. Rohan is at war, villages are being slaughtered, her uncle is sick, and society expects her to sit down and just be a noblewoman of the court. Get real! Éowyn finds these expectations to be ridiculous and her costumes reflect that, and that is why I love her costumes so much. Éowyn has one of the greatest arcs of the story, her costume story progresses along with her character, so we will be revisiting Éowyn in part three. I just got chills thinking about it, I can’t wait! 

11. Gandalf The White – The Two Towers

As the story unfolds, Gandalf the Grey (played by Sir Ian McKellen) dies in his battle to defeat the Balrog during the fellowship’s journey into the Mines of Moria. It’s a devastating blow to the characters and the audience. It still gets me every time, even though I have seen these movies more times than I care to share with you. Thankfully, Gandalf is sent back to Middle-Earth in the second film, as Gandalf the White.

This new costume says so much of the story, and who this new form of Gandalf is. Obviously, Gandalf the White is wearing… all white. He is a clean, pure, bright version of the character he once was. So what does this new look mean? Well, it is said that author J. R. R. Tolkien once called Gandalf the White an “angel incarnate”.  There you go, Gandalf the White comes to us now, to finish his work on Middle-Earth and see to it that the forces of evil are defeated, and peace is brought to Middle-Earth once again.

Another fascinating fact, it is said that this character is actually in part inspired by the Norse-God, Odin. 

it was specific attributes that Gandalf and Odin share that suggested a link between the wizard and the god. They saw that the most distinctive features of Gandalf — his hat, beard, staff, and penchant for wandering — were, as well, the key characteristics that Odin displays when he leaves Asgard and travels in disguise through the plane of human existence, the middle-earth of Norse mythology. During these earthly journeys, Odin does not appear as a stern and forbidding deity or a bloodthirsty god of battle — but rather as a grey-bearded old man who carries a staff and wears a hood or a cloak (usually blue) and a wide-brimmed, floppy hat.

Verlyn Flieger, and Carl E. Hostetter, eds., Tolkien’s Legendarium Essays on the History of Middle-Earth

12. Gríma Wormtongue- The Two Towers

Originally I was not going to include Gríma Wormtongue (played by Brad Dourif) because who really cares about this guy. For lack of a better word, he sucks! But as I started analyzing costumes, I realized that his character and costumes serve as a bigger metaphor and deserve a mention. Gríma is poison. His costume is as dark as can be, almost as though he is a vampire. His costume wields a black fur and a long black cape. His long black hair almost blends into the costume, showing he is quite literally dripping in darkness. Gríma’s costume tells me he is a physical, human embodiment of a shadow. That same type of darkness that eats away at your mind, body, and soul. A shadow that many of us are unfortunately very familiar with… Depression, anxiety, PTSD. It’s an incredible use of costume, combined with a decaying King Théoden who sits next to Grima in a ratted costume, drained of all color. 

13. King Théoden – The Two Towers

King Théoden (played by Bernard Hill) had some of the grandest costumes once he recovered from his sickness. I wouldn’t characterize his costumes as pivotal to the story, but I do find them quite beautiful. They are very typical of a king, wearing rich textiles, draped in colors of red and gold. I do think that his costumes are also practical though. Rohan is known as a kingdom of horsemen, so the costumes cannot be too on the nose for a king. Meaning you won’t see any big furs or long trains that trailed down flights of golden stairs. The king had to constantly hop onto a horse, and you can tell costume designer, Ngila Dickson kept that in mind.

14. Faramir – The Two Towers

We have another compare and contrast costume on our hands! Faramir (played by David Wenham) has a pretty cool costume and one of my personal favorites. We discussed earlier in part one, that Aragorn and Boromir’s costumes were designed to be opposites to each other. I believe that same concept works here for Faramir and his brother, Boromir (played by Sean Bean). Unlike Boromir, Faramir has a quiet, under the radar, Robin Hood type look to his costume. He wields a dark green cloak and earthy toned leathers to camouflage himself in the woods. Faramir is a man of duty and loyalty to the realm. He wants to do what he can to protect the people of his kingdom, and I feel his practical costume lends to that notion. Faramir prefers not to be seen, and his armor and costume would therefore be similar to those of the men that follow him.

Boromir on the other hand had a more flashy costume. He was a great warrior and did care for his kingdom, but the glory of being Gondor’s favorite hero mattered to him just as much and that led to his eventual downfall. Faramir is also grossly looked down upon by his father, who favorites Boromir. In the end, Faramir survives the war and is known as one of the great heroes of the story, proving that dedication and putting others before yourself leads to a greater, more fulfilling life.

Join me again next week as we come to an end of this journey with more costumes from

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King


–  Verlyn Flieger, and Carl E. Hostetter, eds., Tolkien’s Legendarium Essays on the History of Middle-Earth (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2000) 220, Questia, Web, 2 Mar. 2012.