2021 Emmys Roundtable – Outstanding Contemporary Costumes

Spencer: Hey Team! Thank you so much for being here. There is SO much excellent costume design in the Outstanding Contemporary Costumes category this year. I honestly have no idea which way the award will go; everyone here is so deserving! Before I start blabbing on, let’s go around and talk about your favorites and why! Let’s start with Jada!

Jada: Hi everybody! I’m so excited to be here. I agree; despite the obstacles faced this past year, contemporary costume design has flourished! I’m not sure who’s going to win either, but there were so many that caught my eye. 

One of my favorites would be bBlack-ish! I love this show and have always resonated with the costumes because they are so colorful and lively, similar to my personal style. I’m also a huge pop culture fan, and costume designer Michelle Cole does a great job portraying those references in her work!  

I also adored Analucia McGorty’s work on Pose. Similar to black-ish, the costumes are exuberant. They tell a story and are full of character and personality. From angel wings and roses to fringes and feathers, it’s impossible not to love them! 

Euphoria is excellent as always. Heidi Bivens captures Gen Z perfectly and manages to stay on top of trends and set new ones simultaneously. 

And lastly, The Politician stood out to me because of its unique take on business-wear. Business attire in the political climate can be monotonous, but Claire Parkinson introduced pastels, neons, and bold patterns.   

Spencer: Jada, you and I tend to favorite the same shows and today was no exception. Now I would love to hear from Candice. You are quite a fan of contemporary costuming! What were some of your favorites this year?

Candice: I am excited about this category because they are all great and different. Michelle Cole is brilliant, and I still stand by what I said last year; I wish I were as cool as her and the characters she designs. I  also loved The Politician and how their costumes and the evolution from season 1 to 2.  

Hacks was also great. I loved the patterns, sparkle, and Kathleen Felix-Hager’s take on luxury leisure. The costumes throughout could have easily stolen the scenes, but instead, they added additional layers to the character Deborah, played by Jean Smart

I would say, though, that I am particularly excited about Meghan Kasperlik’s costumes in Mare of Easttown (which also stars Jean Smart). I think costumes in shows like Mare of Easttown are often overlooked when it comes to awards for costumes.

Spencer: All brilliant choices!  I have to say, this is such a strong category. I have so many favorites. Quite difficult, really! However, I am a big fan of Analucia McGorty and her work on Pose. Pose was such a monumental, groundbreaking show and Analucia understood the assignment. Every costume was so detailed and fully realized. She brought the 80’s/90s ballroom scene to life, giving this story such color and vibrancy – while also delivering on a very important message that ever human on Earth should hear.

At the same time, I just love Michelle Cole. Her work on black-ish has been remarkable, and the episode “Our Wedding Dre” was just so beautiful. I would love to see her take the Emmy! It’s long overdue!

A surprise to me was Mare of Easttown. At first sight, the costumes might seem a bit drab. But once I started to watch the show, I realized how brilliant a storyteller costume designer Meghan Kasperlik was. She brought such a feeling of authenticity to these characters and this setting. I was so impressed and it reminded how much power contemporary costume design really has in terms of storytelling. Brilliant work!

Spencer: Thank you both for joining me. Before you leave, any tv show recommendations?

Jada: Thank you for having us. I enjoyed this discussion! On top of these brilliant shows, there are a few I’d love to share. If you’re into drama, I’d recommend watching A Million Little Things, This Is Us, and Rebel. A Million Little Things is incredibly heartwarming as it follows a group of friends while they deal with life after losing their friend. This Is Us is beautifully written and it centers around the Pearson family as they deal with the loss of their father.  And Rebel, even though it was unfortunately canceled, served as a symbol of women’s empowerment and inspired so many people, including me, to stand up for others and fight for justice. 

Of course, if you like romance and/or reality television, I highly suggest watching the Bachelor Franchise, including The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, and the Bachelor in Paradise. They’re all filled with drama, never-ending surprises, and unforgettable moments. And you can join Bachelor Nation on Twitter as we share memes and tweet all night long when the episodes air!

Candice: I agree with Jada; I loved the Rebel. I watched too much TV and could probably talk for hours about recommendations, but Cruel Summer was a stand out. Costume Designer Taneia Lednicky’s 90s costumes were terrific. The story covers three different summers and how the characters changed from 93, 94, and 95. Those transitions appear effortless in every episode. 

While I am still upset that The Bold Type completed its final season, I recommend it for anyone who hasn’t watched. However, I couldn’t imagine a more perfect Costume Designer, Mandi Line, to complete the final season. I am also a huge fan of Salvador Perez, so season 2 of Never Have I Ever is also on my recommendation list. 

Spencer: Well Ill be honest, my favorite show right now is Naked and Afraid XL… so I guess there aren’t a lot of costumes. Thank you all for joining me!

Vote For Your Favorite Contemporary Costumes Below!

The 2021 Emmy Nominations – Outstanding Costumes

I am so beyond excited to share with you all the complete 2021 Emmy Nominations – Outstanding Costumes list. There is so much talent within this list, including many great friends of The Art of Costume! Congratulations to all of the talented costume designers, assistant costume designers, costume supervisors, and the countless crewmembers worldwide that helped bring these brilliant projects come to life.

Tune in Sunday, September 19 for the 73rd Emmy Awards hosted by Cedric the Entertainer on CBS and Paramount+.

2021 Emmy Nominations – Outstanding Costumes

Outstanding Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes

The Handmaid’s Tale • Nightshade • Hulu • Hulu, MGM, Daniel Wilson Productions, The Littlefield Company, White Oak

Debra Hanson, Costume Designer
Jane Flanders, Costume Supervisor
Darci Cheyne, Assistant Costume Designer

Lovecraft Country • I Am. • HBO • HBO in association with afemme, Monkeypaw, Bad Robot, and Warner Bros. Television

Dayna Pink, Costume Designer
Zachary Sheets, Costume Supervisor
Terry Anderson, Assistant Costume Designer

The Mandalorian • Chapter 13: The Jedi • Disney+ • Lucasfilm Ltd.

Shawna Trpcic, Costume Designer
Julie Robar, Costume Supervisor
Sara Fox, Assistant Costume Designer

The Umbrella Academy • The Frankel Footage • Netflix • UCP for Netflix

Christopher Hargadon, Costume Designer
Heather Crepp, Assistant Costume Designer William Ng, Assistant Costume Designer
Jane Fieber, Costume Supervisor

WandaVision • Filmed Before A Live Studio Audience • Disney+ • Marvel Studios

Mayes C. Rubeo, Costume Designer
Joseph Feltus, Assistant Costume Designer
Daniel Selon, Assistant Costume Designer
Virginia Burton, Costume Supervisor

Outstanding Contemporary Costumes

black-ish • Our Wedding Dre • ABC • ABC Signature

Michelle R. Cole, Costume Designer
Juliann M. Smith DeVito, Costume Supervisor

Euphoria • F**k Anyone Who’s Not A Sea Blob • HBO • HBO in association with Reasonable Bunch, A24, Little Lamb, Dreamcrew, ADD Content Agency | HOT | Tedy Productions

Heidi Bivens, Costume Designer
Devon Patterson, Costume Supervisor
Angelina Vitto, Assistant Costume Designer

Hacks • There Is No Line (Pilot) • HBO Max • Universal Television in association with Paulilu, First Thought Productions,
Fremulon Productions, 3 Arts Entertainment

Kathleen Felix-Hager, Costume Designer
Karen Bellamy, Costume Supervisor

I May Destroy You • Social Media Is A Great Way To Connect • HBO • HBO in association with BBC, Various Artists Limited, FALKNA

Lynsey Moore, Costume Designer
Rosie Lack, Assistant Costume Designer
Debbie Roberts, Costume Supervisor

Mare Of Easttown • Miss Lady Hawk Herself • HBO • HBO in association with wiip Studios, The Low Dweller Productions,
Juggle Productions, Mayhem and Zobot Projects

Meghan Kasperlik, Costume Designer
Francisco Stoll, Costume Supervisor
Taylor Smith, Costume Supervisor
Laura Downing, Costume Supervisor
Jennifer Hryniw, Assistant Costume Designer

The Politician • New York State Of Mind • Netflix • A Fox21 Television Studios Production for Netflix

Claire Parkinson, Costume Designer
Lily Parkinson, Assistant Costume Designer
James Hammer, Assistant Costume Designer
Laura Steinmann, Costume Supervisor

Pose • Series Finale • FX Networks • FX Productions in association with 20th Century Television

Analucia McGorty, Costume Designer
Michelle Roy, Assistant Costume Designer
Linda Giammarese, Costume Supervisor

Bridgerton • Diamond Of The First Water • Netflix • A Netflix Original Series in association with shondalandmedia

Ellen Mirojnick, Costume Designer
John W. Glaser III, Costume Designer
Sanaz Missaghian, Costume Supervisor
Kenny Crouch, Costume Supervisor

The Crown • Terra Nullius • Netflix • Left Bank Pictures in association with Sony Pictures Television for Netflix

Amy Roberts, Costume Designer
Sidonie Roberts, Assistant Costume Designer
Giles Gale, Costume Supervisor

Halston • Versailles • Netflix • A Netflix Original Series

Jeriana San Juan, Costume Designer
Catherine Crabtree, Assistant Costume Designer
Cailey Breneman, Assistant Costume Designer
Anne Newton-Harding, Costume Supervisor

The Queen’s Gambit • End Game • Netflix • Netflix

Gabriele Binder, Costume Designer
Gina Krauss, Assistant Costume Designer
Katrin Hoffmann, Assistant Costume Designer
Nanrose Buchmann, Assistant Costume Designer
Sparka Lee Hall, Costume Supervisor

Ratched • Pilot • Netflix • A Fox21 Television Studios Production for Netflix

Lou Eyrich, Costume Designer
Rebecca Guzzi, Costume Designer
Allison Agler, Assistant Costume Designer
Betsy Glick, Costume Supervisor

Oh Those Halloween Nights: A Love Letter to Movies and Euphoria

This year, not many of us will be enjoying Halloween parties like we used to. I thought it might be a good reminder of a better world to pay tribute to the most stylish Halloween party of last year’s television: “The Next Episode,” episode six of HBO’s Euphoria. Speaking of, we should also congratulate the amazing makeup team of Euphoria, Zendaya, and Labrinth for their Emmy wins!

Now I would like to shift our focus toward Heidi Bivens’ incredible costumes, inspired by many iconic films. On many occasions, watching Euphoria felt like a love letter to cinema. In this vein, this article is my love letter toward this brilliant show and its masterful production. Let’s take a deep dive then into the “costume-ception” analysis of “The Next Episode.” Be aware, spoilers will follow.

While watching the characters live through this magically vivid Halloween party, we might wonder about their costume choices. They don’t draw inspiration from the mainstream. They don’t derive from memes, current celebrities, social media but from specific films, their generation might not even recognize. Costume and dressing, in general, are a way of nonverbal communication. Every choice we make, every choice a character makes in a story holds some meaning. Not making a choice is also a choice. This is why I am passionate about costume design and I sometimes say that being a costume designer is a lot like being a psychoanalyst for fictional people. You must get into their mindset, make the choices they would make. Costume design is all about intimate storytelling, a meticulous work despite the fact the audience might only have a glance to grasp our story. With this article, I aim to interpret these choices of Euphoria, tell you the story I got out of it. Of course, my understanding might be incorrect, but hey, a healthy discussion will never hurt! What do these costumes mean to you?

“Costumes embody the psychological, social and emotional condition of the character at a particular moment in the script.” (Yvonne Blake)

Timing in costume is essential. In 2019 why would these teenagers choose highly specific costumes no one might recognize at a party? What do these characters want to express to the world? Is this self-reflection? And if it is, what does it say about them and their relationships?


Kat’s choice is a 1981 exploitation thriller by Abel Ferrara, Ms .45. She summarizes it, recommends it, we can even glance at the film’s poster on her phone as a wallpaper. The effort she puts into the costume, too, implies a strong emotional attachment to her film choice. Her emotional journey throughout the series resembles that of Ms .45’s main character, Thana. Kat is introduced as a movie buff, someone who admires and wants to become a strong female character taking over the world, but there was a side of her who watched men in movies in search of romance. Her perspective, however, drastically changes when she comes to the following conclusion:

“That no matter how cool or sexy or smart you think a guy is, they’re actually just fucking pathetic.” (Episode 5: ’03 Bonnie and Clyde)

She starts to own her sexuality. She embraces the person she has been becoming, which is quite the theme in Ms .45. We can draw a parallel between Kat and Thana at the beginning of the series and the film, both characters dress quite plainly. They even have the same haircut. They don’t want to take up much space.

After Kat’s sex video gets exposed without her permission—or even knowledge of this video’s existence—she first panics, then decides to take advantage of it, just like Thana. After Thana gets raped twice and kills her attacker, she goes on a vengeful killing spree against men. At first, she just wants to get rid of the body of her attacker, then makes the killings her mission.

The empowerment comes in the color red: the lipstick, the clothes. Something changed in both characters.

We all have seen witches or vampires at Halloween parties or dressed up as one when we ran out of options or time. Like Heidi Bivens said in an interview with Variety about Ethan

“(…) putting on some vampire teeth, because there is always those people, that person at a party that doesn’t really make much of an effort (…)”

But unlike Ethan, Kat embodied her costume. She had a message. Showrunner Sam Levinson most probably chose Ethan to be a low effort vampire, recreating a scene from Ms .45 (as seen below on the image) with a different ending. Kat’s latex veil, instead of the regular nun veil, and she opened top with the elaborately strapped bra underneath reflects her new “dominatrix” persona. We can even notice a black ribbon on her thigh that evokes Thana’s holster without the gun. Kat’s now-iconic makeup (that inspired thousands of Instagram posts) also gives an extra layer to Kat’s liberation. It is loud, provocative, bold—something new. As Kat’s says in episode five—and I couldn’t agree more:

“There’s nothing more powerful than a fat girl who doesn’t give a fuck.”


Another meticulously detailed costume of the Halloween party is Maddy’s choice. She dresses as Iris, the 12-year-old prostitute from the legendary film Taxi Driver (1976), directed by Martin Scorsese. Her liking of Scorsese’s films is established in episode 5 when Nate presents her the coat from Casino. By the Halloween episode, we know Maddy’s character quite well, although the costume might still seem odd.  Only when I rewatched Taxi Driver did I come to understand this choice. In the scene when Iris wears pink shorts, a cowboy hat, and a rosy light blouse, she says the following about her abusive pimp:

“I can leave whenever I want to (….) Look, I was stoned. That’s why they stopped me. Because when I’m not stoned, I got no place else to go, so they just protect me from myself.

The Halloween episode takes place right after Nate is released from all charges for the attack on Maddy. When wearing this costume, she is more mature, her makeup is more elaborate than Iris’. She wants to establish—maybe only to herself—that she could leave the relationship if she wanted to. Although Nate’s costume wasn’t inspired by movies, I would say the choice was quite daring at the least.


Cassie’s choice from the 1993 film True Romance reflects her naïve, slightly messed up conception of what true love is. I found it peculiar she chose an outfit that only shows up for a few seconds in the film. She wants to imitate the few passing moments of happiness and romantic excitement that the protagonists of True Romance experience. Cassie’s color scheme throughout the series revolves around pale pastels and baby blue, just like Alabama Worley’s dresses with excessive cleavages. No matter how innocent and kind of a person she is, she always emphasizes one thing about herself, her beauty, even if she has a lot more to offer. I can see how much Cassie could identify with the prostitute who starves for love and finally gets it. It breaks my heart even to think about her oncoming tragic conversation with “Ted Bundy:”

“You are so fucking boring. Hey. I’m gonna be honest with you, because no one else will. Any guy who says he’s interested in you beyond just fucking you, is full of shit.” (Episode 6: The Next Episode)


Rue’s choice imitates Marlene Dietrich’s androgynous look from the 1930 film Morocco. When I first saw the episode, I was wondering why she would choose this particular outfit. Even though its significance in film history is immense, the choice wouldn’t make sense to the Rue I thought I knew at first glance. But after watching the series for a second time, I realized Rue was probably watching old movies with her father while he was sick in bed and her current happiness with Jules reminded her of that comfort and uncertainty. Although there might be another aspect to consider: She wanted to impress Jules. Rue actually put effort into her outfit (which was something she didn’t do often in the series), even if she opted for a little boy’s tuxedo. Jules is high culture, unique, so Rue tried to become all that for Halloween night—a person Jules would like. Cultured and sober, someone who doesn’t belong in that “fucking boring” town, someone who embraces who she is—someone like Jules. This becomes quite visible when they are apart in episode 7, and Rue becomes her old comfortable self in her own comfortable clothes.

“The truth is, I don’t want good TV. I don’t want a novel, or some slow burn, or anything that feels like work. That’s why I love reality TV. It’s funny, it’s dramatic and I can focus on it. It’s pure, effortless entertainment.” (Episode 7, The Trials and Tribulations of Trying to Pee While Depressed)

Rue regresses to her depression and old habits, justifying her decisions.


Jules’ choice was from the 1996 adaptation of Romeo and Juliet by Baz Luhrmann. The film choice captures her personality’s essence with the vintage white dress and exact replica of the wings. She wants more, something different but with the same core values as in the tale as old as the time of true passionate love and expression. Her makeup also seems to be inspired by the Capulet parents of the 1996 film (the gold on the cheeks of the father and teary gold on the mother). Jules is unique, with complicated background and emotions, just like the modern interpretation of Romeo and Juliet.

The makers of Euphoria also recreated the pool scene from Romeo and Juliet, although as Rue is not dressed as Romeo, we feel that Jules is missing something. Especially when Rue doesn’t recognize when she is quoting from Romeo and Juliet and tells her to stop the nonsense.  The choice of Jules becoming Juliet predicts their relationship’s inevitable change. As Jules puts it—or rather hallucinates it,

“I know this isn’t going to end well.” (Episode 7, The Trials and Tribulations of Trying to Pee While Depressed)

All in All

It was my absolute pleasure to revisit Euphoria and the films that inspired its creation instead of working on my own Halloween costume. I wish everyone a spooky but safe Halloween, and even though this year we have the pandemic going on, at least we can have the time to binge on some incredible works of art.