The Addams Family 30th Anniversary: Costume Legacy

The Addams Family started as a cartoon created in 1938 by Charles Addams. Later on, the family starred in a live-action television show for ABC from 1964 to 1966, and after a couple more productions in the ‘70s, the family hit the silver screen in 1991. For the 30th anniversary of Barry Sonnenfeld’s adaptation, we are looking back on the creative minds who brought these spooky, hilarious, and freaky characters to life and The Addams Family costume design!

Left to right: The Addams Family by Charles Addams (1938), The Addams Family (1966)Photo: © ABC


Since its origin, Morticia’s black tight-fitting dress and Wednesday’s black dress with a white collar have been staples that have only gotten stronger with time. The impeccable legacy and aesthetic of the family, we owe it mainly to the incredible costume designer, Ruth Myers. She based her designs on the original illustrations by Charles Addams. By bringing together his aesthetic and combining it with stunning textiles and silhouettes, Ruth created the looks for the characters that have stayed with us for three decades. She also received an Oscar nomination for her outstanding work.

The designer thought the family of being their own kind of aristocracy with an inclination towards Eastern European fashions. Their wealth, taste, manners, and culture made them stand out from the rest and gave them these mysterious but respectable looks. The costumes incorporate Edwardian and Victorian details. Each character has a particular silhouette and texture that make them unique but at the same time look like a group. Ruth used a lot of vintage fabrics, mainly because she didn’t want the family to look contemporary. In addition, many of the pieces were built for the film, which allowed Ruth to achieve her exact designs.

Anjelica Huston as Morticia Addams, The Addams Family (1991) Photo: © Paramount Pictures

Morticia’s black tight-fitting trumpet dress covered with semi-precious stones has undoubtedly become a staple, in addition to having the outstanding Anjelica Hudson play this character. Her costume included a corset, which was necessary to achieve the desired silhouette. It restrained her movement a little bit, but Huston used this in her favor for the character’s movements. Ruth ended up designing over 20 dresses for Morticia. Her costumes include jet trimmings and intricate embroidery that make her look elegant and exclusive. 

“I always had this fantasy that Morticia…would have a day dress, [a] dress for the afternoon, and a dress for dinner. It was always the same silhouette, but there were slightly more subdued ones for the morning. By the afternoon, she was getting more exotic and by the evening, she was a peacock encrusted in jet and beautiful lace.”

Costume Designer Ruth Myers shared with ELLE magazine

In addition to her dresses, her jewelry and shoes were carefully designed and picked for her. The velvet cloak she wears also resembles a coronation cloak used in the Edwardian period in Russia. It was an impeccable design that made her look absolutely stunning. 

Anjelica Huston as Morticia Addams, Raul Julia as Gomez Addams, The Addams Family (1991) Photo: © Paramount Pictures

On the other hand, Gomez has a very lavish and eccentric wardrobe. He has the most colorful costumes from the entire family and always mixes different patterns and textures. His elegance and fun details give the character the complete appearance of the wealthy leader of the crew. Ruth incorporated tunics, suits, robes as well as velvet, striped and floral patterns. Gomez, played by Raul Julia, balances Morticia’s black wardrobe, and together they have become a timeless couple.

Raul Julia as Gomez Addams, The Addams Family (1991) Photo: © Paramount Pictures

“Women are beautiful props all the time. Quirky teenagers, all the time. But to have men … with that sort of male elegance, it was a very fun job.”

Costume Designer, Ruth Myers. The Rogue Runway.

Wednesday Addams, played by Christina Ricci, has indeed bewitched us all with her unique obsession for death and darkness. It is impossible not to feel the empowerment of this little girl and love her outfits. She also had different designs that she would wear throughout the day, all allusive to the same silhouette of a black patterned dress with a Barrymore collar. 

Christina Ricci as Wednesday Addams, The Addams Family (1991) Photo: © Paramount Pictures

The pattern of her dress gave Wednesday her own identity. Ruth didn’t want to put her in all black mainly because she was still a little girl and because there was so much black in the other characters. The only time Wednesday is wearing all black is at the ball, where she wears a mini version of Morticia’s gown. Pugsley has his own identity, too: his black and white striped t-shirt. Even though it is a relatively simple piece, we immediately recognize Jimmy Workman as Pugsley Addams when paired up with his shorts. Both the kids balance each other and undoubtedly have their unique identities.

Christina Ricci as Wednesday Addams, Jimmy Workman as Pugsley Addams, The Addams Family (1991) Photo: © Paramount Pictures

Lastly, we have Uncle Fester and Granny. Both characters have a broad silhouette which is rather simple but complemented with a unique hairstyle look. Uncle Fester, played by Christopher Lloyd, is characterized by his black, long sleeve, collared velvet coat, and bald head. As he was playing around to pretend to be Fester, his costume is working more as a disguise. He doesn’t have many textures, or details except for the costume he wear on the ball scene: Mumushka!

Grandmama, Judith Malina, has a long black dress with tons of bits and pieces hanging from her. Since she is all the time cooking or searching for something, she certainly needed somewhere to hide it or hang it. Her dress looks hundreds of years old and with time she has added more interesting pieces that complement the costume. Finally, Lurch the sinister Butler, portrayed by Carel Struycken is always wearing a too small suit. The odd way in which the suit was fitted and styled gives him a much more weird appearance.

Left to right: Christopher Lloyd as Uncle Fester, Carel Struycken as Lurch the Butler, Judith Malina as Grandmama, The Addams Family (1991) Photo: © Paramount Pictures

With the use of dark colors and timeless pieces, Ruth Myers created icons. Each costume is so well thought and tailored that it flawlessly contributes to the story and brings this freaky family to life. The costume legacy of The Addams Family has undoubtedly pushed the boundaries of time and has become a classic.  


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The Queen’s Wardrobe: A Glimpse Into Beth Harmon’s Costumes and The Queen’s Gambit

The Queen’s Gambit brought to our screens an inspiring, emotional and intimate story about a female chess prodigy. It takes place in the late 1950’s and early to mid 1960’s in The United States and around many other countries.

It has received 18 nominations, not only for the outstanding performance of Anya Taylor-Joy, as Elizabeth Harmon, but also for its production and cinematography. The costumes, of course, have not been left behind. Costume Designer Gabriele Binder won a Costume Designers Guild Award for “Excellence in Period Television” and recently won an Emmy Award in the Outstanding Period Costumes Category. With an extraordinary attention to colour, detail, silhouette and building around 80% of the costumes for the series, Gabriele portrayed this decade in a flawless way through Beth Harmon’s costumes.

The Netflix miniseries tells the story of Beth and her journey from becoming an orphan with a tragic past to a chess grandmaster. Along the series, Beth gains courage and confidence to beat anyone that comes in her way. However, she struggles with loneliness, addiction, as well as with power and love. All of this is expressed through the costumes and brings Beth Harmon to life.

Right: Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon. The Queen’s Gambit. Photo: © Netflix

At the show’s beginning, Beth is given a uniform at the orphanage and is forced to wear it for many years. This uniform, a dull grey/brown jumper dress, off-white Peter Pan collared shirt, white socks, and shoes, was a standard uniform during the 1950s. The Peter Pan collar was very popular during this period, and Gabriele used it accurately on many occasions.

Left to right: 1. Isla Johnston as Beth Harmon and Christiane Seidel as Miss Deardoff. The Queen’s Gambit. Photo: © Netflix 2. Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon. The Queen’s Gambit. Photo: © Netflix

Later on, in 1963, Beth wins her first chess competition, and with the cash prize, she buys herself a much more stylish plaid pinafore dress. She pairs it with a 3/4 sleeve collared shirt, white bobby socks, and black and white saddle shoes. This is the first time that Beth connects deeply with fashion and actually picks what she wants to wear. Going forward, her outfits and addiction to fashion just get better, making her look confident and empowered.

At this moment, we witness a glimpse of Beth’s wardrobe’s connection to the chessboard: checks, plaids, and geometrical or linear prints. These patterns were also a trend during the 1960s, known as op-art. In most scenes, the background characters’ costumes also include a subtle checkered or plaid pattern—a brilliant and accurate detail from Gabriele that works perfectly for storytelling purposes.

Left to right: 1. Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon wearing plaid pinafore dress. The Queen’s Gambit. Photo: © Netflix 2. Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon wearing checkered dress, Jacob Fortune-Lloyd as Townes. The Queen’s Gambit. Photo: © Netflix

“Beth Harmon should have felt more confident in a checkered outfit. The contrast of the check print also mirrors the nuances of the game itself—it’s decisive, it’s win or lose” -Gabriele Binder, Costume Designer.

As Beth starts gaining confidence in her life and in chess, she starts to experiment with fashion and discovers her real style. In Mexico City, 1966, the costumes are just astonishing. She is using warmer colours and often has an A line silhouette that allures more to the 1950’s fashions. As a teenage girl that comes from a small town in USA, this is what was available to her. So, not only her costumes are cohesive with time period and geography, but also make her look secure and professional.

One really interesting point about Beth’s costumes is Gabriele’s attention to detail in necklines and torso. Since Beth is most of the time sitting at the chessboard, she needed to look elegant, interesting and professional. Without the use of any cleavage or jewellery because that could cause distraction. The use of Peter Pan collars (right photo) and checkered details, the buttons on her dress (left photo), are still clever and work perfectly.

Left to right: 1. Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon wearing dress with checkered buttons. The Queen’s Gambit. Photo: © Netflix 2. Mathew Dennis-Lewis as Matt, Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon, Russell Dennis-Lewis as Mike. The Queen’s Gambit. Photo: © Netflix

By 1967, Beth goes to Ohio and New York City before heading to Paris. Her costumes are slowly jumping to the ‘60s, with more interesting prints and mini skirts, making her look more confident and comfortable in her environment. One of the designer’s favorite looks is a casual white and black t-shirt flared jeans. This outfit is a rather repetitive look through the episodes, and it’s what she wears when feeling comfortable. Her headbands add an interesting touch to her feminine looks and make her hair look amazing.

“We wanted Beth Harmon’s late 1950s, early 1960s look to be a little bit backwards on purpose—that way we could clearly show the moment when she catches up with the modern day in New York where she discovers how young people in her generation are living.” -Gabriele Binder, Costume Designer shares with Vogue

In three pictures: Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon. The Queen’s Gambit. Photo: © Netflix

In Paris, Beth’s love for fashion becomes more evident. Being now in the world’s Fashion Capital, her looks are more elegant, structural, and linear. The so popular 1960’s minidress, which we first see on Cleo, makes her look older and like a true fashion icon. For these episodes, Costume Designer Gabriele Binder incorporated references from Pierre Cardin. The mint green bow dress (the one she wore on her match with Borgov) resembled the pill colors and was made from a light crepe. The colors and fabric contributed to show how unstable and fragile she was at this particular moment, which at the same time symbolized the way she was slowly destroying herself with her addictions.

Left to right: Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon wearing Pierre Cardin inspiration dress. The Queen’s Gambit. Photo: © Netflix. Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon wearing her “pill” dress. The Queen’s Gambit. Photo: © Netflix.

When Beth encounters total loneliness and failure, she jumps into a self-destructive spiral. She feels lost and insecure, which transforms her appearance entirely, and we see her for the first time wearing pastel colors. The choice of this pink cardigan and baby blue camisole can be a way of grieving her late Mother, Alma, because these were colors she (Alma) ordinarily worn. In addition to this, we see her copying the style and makeup of a singer that she sees on TV. Impeccable detail in this costume is her hat. This is the first time we see Beth wearing a hat, probably trying to hide her red hair, which has always made her stand out from the crowd.

Left to right: Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon wearing her pastel look. The Queen’s Gambit. Photo: © Netflix. Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon wearing her rebel look. The Queen’s Gambit. Photo: © Netflix.

Gabriele’s attention to color was a huge point during the creation of these costumes. Beth’s costumes centered on one particular color, pale green. This color is the one she is wearing in Episode 1 when she first arrives at the orphanage. It symbolized “home” but made her look weak and fragile. By the end of the show, at her final match with Borvog, Beth is wearing a wool collared dress in the exact same color. It makes her look so strong and sophisticated that we can see how the color transformed with her and how she is once again “home.” Also, it is a color that contrasts but extraordinarily compliments her red hair.

“We wanted to use this colour to show that she finally feels confident and that her mother is with her. At this moment, she is not afraid of the man she has been most afraid of. In the beginning, it’s a colour that makes her really fragile, but in the end, the same colour is a sign of her strength; it is symbolic of a homecoming.” -Gabriele Binder, Costume Designer shares with Vogue

Left to right: 1. Beth’s embroidered dress. The Queen’s Gambit. Photo: © Netflix 2. Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon wearing wool collared dress. The Queen’s Gambit. Photo: © Netflix

Vintage pieces from the decade inspire the final coats that we see her wearing in Moscow. The checkered coat, which Binder called “Beth’s Pride Coat,” is what she wears to leave the tournament in Moscow. “It was a beautiful vintage piece that we found, which I believe was designed by André Courrèges for an American designer as part of a collaboration. This was a very self-confident piece; we wanted the visuals of a strong decision referenced by the checks”. Courrèges was one of the first to use op-art aesthetics in his collections, so it is evident how his stamp was used throughout the whole show as an accurate reference. Also, these final outfits have inspiration from Jaqueline Kennedy and Audrey Hepburn, two icons from the era.

By the end, Beth Harmon is The White Queen of the chess world. She has conquered what she came looking for and has demonstrated how strong, determined, intelligent, and talented she can be. This final look is also referencing the work of André Courrèges. She is wearing a black long-sleeve turtleneck, white straight trousers, white leather ankle boots, knee-length white wool coat with stand collar, white cap, and leather gloves. Her elegance and simplicity make her look absolutely stunning. This final look is the perfect way to finish the story of Beth’s character. It summarizes her whole path, her style, her strength, and her symbolism with chess. 

Left to right: Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon wearing checkered coat. The Queen’s Gambit. Photo: © Netflix. Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon wearing The White Queen outfit. The Queen’s Gambit. Photo: © Netflix

Gabriele Binder and her talented crew brought together an impeccable wardrobe for a Netflix limited series that we will never forget. They were able to bring together pieces from chess, fashion, addiction, empowerment, and the beautiful and iconic ‘50s and 60’s to our screens. They told the story of a strong and out-of-the-ordinary chess player and made her the Beth Harmon that we will never forget. Thank you for reviving this decade and perfectly telling such a good story.

If you would like to hear more about The Queen’s Gambit’s costumes, go and check The Art of Costume Blogcast.


References:

2021 Emmys Roundtable – Outstanding Period Costumes

Spencer: Hey Team! Thank you so much for being here. There is SO much great costume design in the Outstanding Period Costumes category this year. I also think it is safe to say Period Costumes is the favorite here at The Art of Costume, so I know you all have many thoughts! Let’s go around and talk about your favorites and why! Let’s start with Mariana, a big fan of period costumes!

Mariana: Hi everyone! Well, where to begin? I am a fan of period pieces, and this year’s nominees filled my heart with pure joy. One of my favorites will be The Queen’s Gambit, designed by Gabriele Binder. There is so much drama and passion in these costumes, which at the same time are accurate to the time period and work brilliantly for storytelling purposes. I love how Beth’s style transforms through the years and cities she visits and tells us who she really is! 

My second favorite will have to be The Crown, designed by Amy Roberts. Every single costume worn on this TV Show has always been a masterpiece, and this season, with Princess Diana’s stunning wedding dress, was beyond what I imagined! 

Spencer: Two brilliant choices Mariana! Let’s hear from Candice next.

Candice: I will say typically, Regency-era costumes are not my favorite. However, I was hooked on Bridgerton when the first trailer was released. Ellen Mirojnick and John W. Glaser’s take and designs on the era have made me reconsider my previous opinions on the time frame. I am a HUGE fan of the Featherington Family and their costumes in particular. The bright, bold colors and embellishments drew me in. A close second would be the costumes designed for the Queen. 

Speaking of Queens, The Queen’s Gambit’s costumes were beyond words. The subtle nods to chess within the costumes were brilliant while conveying the complicated character’s nuances.

This is such a hard category, Ratched was awe-inspiring, and the show with their costume contest saved Halloween during a pandemic while many were unable to be creative with friends. Halloween is my favorite holiday and the costumes that fans re-created during October last year were a testament to Lou Eyrichs’s talent and storytelling through clothes. 

Spencer: Ah yes, Ratched was such a great show. I need it to come back like now… Elizabeth I would love to hear your picks.

Elizabeth: Hello everyone! There were so many good period pieces this year, but I really loved Bridgeton, and the costumes immediately grabbed my attention. The Regency era is a particular favorite of mine, and I loved how Ellen Mirojnick and John W. Glaser truly brought the costumes to life. While the overall style and silhouettes of the costumes remain faithful to the Regency era, the designers fill them with color and embellishments that bring a modern, energetic flare to Bridgeton. 

A close second favorite this year is The Queen’s Gambit. While not the flashy, attention-grabbing drama Bridgeton is, Gabriele Binder creates a thoughtful, meaningful wardrobe that reflects its heroine’s inner passions and feelings. 

Spencer: Bridgerton and The Queen’s Gambit seem quit popular here! Thank you Elizabeth, now I would love to hear from Csilla!

Csilla: Hey Everyone! It is tough to choose just one from this category; all the shows and their costume designers were terrific! But if I had to choose one, my favorite has to be Ratched. That show had such a brilliant color palette, and the costumes from Lou Eyrich were just stunning. I love the end of the 40s, the beginning of the 50s era, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, so I was excited to see the back story of Nurse Ratched. The aesthetic of the whole show was beautiful but dangerous and scary, and these mixed feelings about the characters were present in every silhouette, even in the uniforms. 

My close second favorite is the Queen’s Gambit. I agree with the rest of the team on that completely. Such wonderful designs from Gabriele Binder. 

Spencer: Thank you so much Csilla. Well, I guess it’s my turn!

My favorite costumes within this category are easily to Netflix’s Halston, with costumes designed by Jeriana San Juan. I fell in love with this show, primarily because of the costuming. She had so much ground to cover, so many decades of research, and brought it all together perfectly. The tie-dye collection, ultra-suede shirt dresses, The Battle of Versailles, Studio 54, Martha Graham’s Persephone – there was so much, and every single costume stood strong. On top of all of the brilliant costuming, Jeriana also worked alongside actor Ewan McGregor to teach him the ways of the designer, coaching him through the process of becoming Halston

Halston – Courtesy of Netflix

This is Jeriana’s year in my opinion, but I am still in love with every other nominated show in this category – literally, all of them were amazing. It’s a tough call!

Thank you all so much for joining me! I can’t wait to see how this all plays out!

Vote For Your Favorite Period Costumes Below!

It’s Cruella’s Costumes, Darling!

Mariana: We are gathered here today to review Cruella’s costumes, darling! More specifically, the costumes of Disney’s most recent film: Cruella. Hello Jada, thank you for joining me in this great piece; I am so glad to review this film together! 

Jada: Hi Mariana! We’re going to have so much fun! I’m excited to be reviewing this with you too.

Mariana: Let’s get started by sharing our overall thoughts on the film. What did you think about the movie?

Jada: I loved the movie! I thought it would be more similar to the original story we saw in older Cruella movies, but then once I really looked into it, I learned that it was supposed to be Cruella’s backstory, so it started to make more sense. But everything from the fashion to the plot to the entire cast. It was just fantastic!

Mariana: Yeah, same here! First of all, I am a huge Disney fan, so as soon as I saw that Disney was making this film, I was like OMG! I was not expecting the plot to turn out like that! And then I saw that Jenny Beavan would be the costume designer: OH MY GOD x 200!! Also, I really enjoyed how they referenced the animated movie, which I love, and the whole production was flawless. Every single character was so well casted, and the way they tell the story through fashion was just fascinating…

Jada: Yes, there were plot twists at every turn!

Mariana: What a great movie. I could watch it again and again! So let’s start our review with Cruella’s costumes; which one was your favorite one?

Jada: There were a few costumes that really stood out to me. This one in particular, which I’m pretty sure is everyone’s favorite, is the dress from the garbage truck scene. It’s so amazing! It’s made with pieces of newspaper articles about her. I thought that was such great detail. And I was reading that the train on the dress is 40 feet long. That’s insane! It was very heavy, of course, so it wasn’t attached to the dress and was added on at the last minute, but I thought it was just so pretty. Her costumes are really out there, and her style is so…in your face!

Mariana: This dress was mind-blowing! It shows the character at its climax: arriving on a garbage truck to a gala, what an entrance! And speaking of the dress itself, the bodice is so perfectly tailored as well, so beautiful! 

Jada: It is beautiful! And I like how they presented a lot of the dresses in this movie. Like with this one, the way that she falls out of the truck was perfect. The dress was revealed as trash, but in reality, it’s the complete opposite. 

Mariana: Yes! The way she appears from under the dresses is so great, so magical. And I would like to add something insane about this creation, the 40 feet long train was actually a patchwork made from one of the Baroness’s old, outdated collections! “One woman’s trash is another’s a treasure.”

Jada: Oh wow, it literally is another woman’s treasure! haha

Mariana: Something similar happened with the red flame dress, which we had a glimpse of in the trailer. It was a Baroness’ old design, but she transformed it and made it 100 times more stunning.

Jada: I also loved how they revealed this dress. It shows how innovative she is. Cruella truly made a statement. I call this next dress the military petal dress. It has a military-style jacket with a long ombre skirt. My favorite part of the costume is the hidden decorations. If you zoom in super close to the coat, you’ll see that on the epaulets (shoulder pieces), there are mini horses and carriage pieces. It’s a very royal look. And even if you look at her hair, it’s styled into a crown. I absolutely love that!

Mariana: Oh my God! I didn’t see that before; I love it! There’s also a lot of punk in her style, and this one is the perfect blend between Punk and Royalty. I really love how Jenny incorporated many John Galliano, Vivienne Westwood, and even Alexander McQueen in Cruella’s costumes. And this is also an extremely long skirt, so dramatic! 

Jada: I couldn’t find the exact length, but I know that it was apparently one of the most challenging looks to make, and it involved so many people. Mariana: It had over 5,000 hand-sewn flowers. Unbelievable and highly fantastic! Can you imagine how much time it took?

“I think at one point I saw 12 people sitting around the table — students and trainees — hand-stitching petals,” says Beavan referring to the “Military Petal Dress

Jada: 5,000 hand-sewn flowers!? That must have taken forever. I wonder how long it took to make next this next look which I absolutely love! It’s the “Dalmatian fur” coat. It’s a high-low asymmetrical coat with faux leather and a “Dalmation fur” print. I loved how this was the only dalmatian look in the movie. It was like an ode to 101 Dalmations while still staying true to the plot of this one.

Mariana: Absolutely, it’s like she’s coming to what we know as Cruella with this stunning coat! And here’s an important quote: “please rest assured: No animals were harmed in or during the making of this movie.”

Jada: Yes! That is very important to note!  And the last costume on my list that really stood out to me also happens to be the very last costume in the film. It was a simple all-black look: A black tweed blazer with pointed shoulder pads and cape sleeves that attach in the back. I LOVE cape sleeves. Anything with cape sleeves on them I’ll fall in love with, haha. The blazer is also paired with black fitted pants and faux leather gloves. I really liked how sleek it was. The costume was significantly toned down compared to her other looks, but something about it was so bold and fierce. I was just so captivated by it.

Left to right: 1. Emma Stone as Cruella De Vil in Disney’s Cruella wearing the Motorcycle outfit. Photo: © Disney. 2. Emma Stone as Cruella De Vil in Disney’s Cruella wearing the Leather Suit. Photo: © Disney. 3. Pictured in centre, the Butterfly Dress in Disney’s Cruella. Photo: © Disney

Mariana: I feel that moment when she’s walking into the mansion with such determination is so powerful, and her costume is just enhancing that. I will just add two more to Cruella’s list, first the motorcycle costume. The leather jacket and sparkly gold pants look from out of this planet! The texture from the leather jacket is imitating the motorcycle tires, kind of going back to the concept with the garbage dress; she can make an outfit out of anything! And also, her broad shoulders presented here definitely give her more authority. It just bothered me that it only appeared on screen for a couple of minutes!

Jada: I wish there were more time to take in all of the costumes. 

Mariana: Yeah! And the last one I liked was the leather skirt and suit. The leather was actually a checkered pattern, which is incredible, and both pieces are so well-tailored. Also, this is her second appearance as Cruella, so without causing too much drama, she looks elegant, powerful but subtle at the same time since I think it has a little bit of Estella. 

Jada: I remember a scene in the movie where she walked down the street with Dalmatians in that outfit, and it was so cool. There was so much power in one scene.

Mariana: And to finish our Cruella’s round, although this is actually an Estella creation: The butterfly dress. What a masterpiece! Imagine the people who made that for the film, such a talented crew. 

Jada: Very talented! I wonder if anyone wore the dress behind the scenes or what it would’ve been like if the Baroness or Cruella would’ve worn it in the movie. Maybe it was just too perfect for anyone to wear it.

Mariana: Too bad they didn’t get to wear it because it destroyed itself! With that, we finish Cruella’s costumes (we mentioned pretty much all of them). I want to add that I also loved Estella’s costumes. They were not as stunning, but Estella’s style is so punk, fashionista, and elegant, it’s brilliant. I love how storytelling and character creation work so well with these costumes.

Jada: Yes, you can really see her transformation from Estella to Cruella. As you said, they definitely did a great job with storytelling.  

Mariana: Let’s dive into the Baroness costumes, shall we?

Jada: Her two-toned black and white dress is stunning! I loved this dress because it reminded me of Cruella’s fake Dalmatian fur coat. It felt like they were paralleling each other where Cruella’s version was more punk and edgy, whereas the Baroness’ was more elegant and classy. And we have to talk about the collar! It was so dramatic. It looked like a sculpture! 

Mariana: A lot of drama! And how clean it looks! Of course, it’s white, but the asymmetric neckline is flawless…. She is wearing it with such elegance, and her eye mask and accessories match perfectly. The next one on my list is her “going to work outfit.” It is a brown dress with a gold jacket, and that jacket has a similar dramatic collar; although it’s more subtle, the shape and the drama are there. This is actually the costume she is wearing when she finds the talented Estella. 

Jada: Yes, that is the look! It’s one of the first times that we see the Baroness other than when Cruella was a child, so the costume establishes her character and personality very well. You can tell that she’s very into high fashion and is well respected in the fashion industry.  And I read that Jenny got a lot of inspiration from Dior, which I can definitely see in this. 

Mariana: Yes! Absolutely!

Jada: The Baroness’ red carpet look is definitely on my list. It’s a cream-colored, side gathered dress with an asymmetrical neckline. And it gave me Alexander McQueen vibes because of the fan-like piece in the back. It was just so abstract. 

Mariana: And the textile they use in that costume is so beautiful and delicate, is it jacquard? 

Jada: It appears so, but unfortunately, I could not get close enough to see the actual print. 

Mariana: It has that beautiful train falling behind her… 

Jada: It does! It creates a dramatic waterfall drape effect.

Mariana: Such a diva! Do you have ANOTHER favorite one? 

Jada: Of course! Haha. This dress was very simple, similar to how Cruella’s last look in the film was. It was an all-black, one-shoulder dress. However, it had a horn-like piece, or as you said, a spiral, attached to it. And I thought it was interesting that, if we think back to the Baroness’ two-toned dress with the asymmetrical collar, it looked like some of the dresses were trying to focus more on her face or aim towards her face rather than the actual dress. You mentioned earlier how we see many of her costumes from the waist up, which may have been their intention. 

Mariana: Emma Thompson’s facial expressions are so great, so I guess they focus a lot on her face and character creation. As much as for Cruella, it was like the long dramatic trains and broad shoulders. For the Baroness, it was more her face, neck, shoulders, and hands. Actually, the next piece that I want to point out is a turban she wears with different outfits, making her look marvelous—also, most of the time accompanied by gloves that give her that final elegant touch.

Jada: She does! That costume looked very professional. Everything about her is so organized. 

Mariana: There are many bold shapes that we don’t expect, and they worked so perfectly for her. Whenever she is not wearing the turban, her hair is made up, so it creates this column effect and gives her authority. They did a brilliant job.

Jada: They did. And this last look was a little different than most of the costumes we’ve seen. It’s a metallic blue and gray dress. It had these long draped sleeves, which I LOVE, and a silver piece on the front, too, resembling an armor plate. It looked like it was inspired by medieval times.  

Mariana: Yes, that’s what I thought! I related a lot to one of Cersei’s costumes in Game of Thrones. As soon as I saw that dress, I said: YES! This is armor because she’s protecting herself! 

Jada: Oh wow, I didn’t even make that connection!

Mariana: Yeah, she has to protect herself somehow. So, she has chains, the metallic piece, and the collar is high, which at the same time can mean that she is choking herself with her actions. There’s a lot of symbolism. Most of her costumes are black, brown, gold, and then this grey is kind of the coolest tone she wears. I think that works well for storytelling purposes because it has the same meaning; at this point, she’s doomed, and there is no way she can get out of here…

Jada: Yeah, that’s true. It’s almost as if the costumes were giving us a warning as to what was coming.

Mariana: I have to say that I think it’s my favorite movie it’s going to be one of my favorite movies for a very long time until someone else or something different 

Jada: Oh yes, that’s what I said as soon as I finished the movie!

Mariana: Both of the characters have such dramatic costumes. The Baroness had a lot of asymmetrical, avant-garde, architectural costumes stylishly. And then Cruella has a lot of out of the ordinary (also avant-garde) but with her own identity and creative vibe.

Jada: They do! I love how opposite they are; it’s almost like they incorporate each other’s personalities and styles into their costumes. For example, they both feature a lot of asymmetry in their outfits which could be seen as more disorderly and Cruella-like, but they also both wear gloves which could be seen as more delicate and the Baroness’ style. So it’s cool to see them use these elements in a unique way that fits their character. 

Mariana: Absolutely! Also, I heard in an interview with Jenny Beavan that her research was picking at her memory because she grew up in London in the seventies. So she was just going back to what was in trend, what she wore, and how people wore things. And also, she mentioned she was surprised she got picked for this film because she doesn’t have a fashion background like other costume designers. Still, since she grew up in London and is extremely talented, everything connected so well and ended up being perfect.

Bluebell the Chihuahua as Wink in Disney’s Cruella, wearing a rat disguise. Photo: © Disney

Jada: Oh wow! I’m so thankful that she was picked for this because she did fantastically! One of the best things about costume design is when you can really take inspiration from your own experiences so that must have been so great for her to do. I remember reading that Jenny’s favorite costume is the rat costume for the dog. It’s just so cute.

Mariana: OMG, that is adorable! Such a great character, that tiny dog, I loved it! I can’t imagine how it was fitting that costume though, haha… We could keep on talking about these costumes forever…

Jada: Did you have any final closing thoughts?

Mariana: I’ll say that this film fulfilled my designer spirit. All the textures, silhouettes and colors are just magical… Everything was perfect, I enjoyed every single piece of it, and I want to thank Jenny Beavan and her entire wardrobe team for giving us such amazing costumes! To be honest, I am still taking in everything that I saw in this movie.

Jada: Exactly! Now I have to go back and watch everything again and study it, haha. I don’t even have anything else to say. The movie speaks for itself! Like everyone just has to go and watch it. It’s perfect in every way!

Mariana: Well, thank you for your time! For sharing your thoughts and passion for costumes with me! I had a great time! 

Jada: Thank you so much for letting me collaborate with you!

Mariana: If we didn’t make this clear already, please go and watch this movie! You can find it on Disney+ with Premiere Access or in the theatres. And, if you are a nerd like us and need more in-depth conversation about the costumes, please go and listen to The Art of Costume Blogcast.


References:

Costume Design at the Emmys – The Art of Costume Roundtable

Spencer: Hi everyone! Thank you for being here. Congratulations on joining The Art of Costume team!  With everything considered, It’s been an excellent year for costume design – specifically in the world of television. The Emmys are right around the corner and there are so many excellent designers nominated within the costume design categories. I know I can speak for all of us when I say each and every one of these designers are incredibly talented and all just as deserving of an Emmy this year. First I would like to hear from each of you why you wanted to join the team and have there been any shows this year that have left an impression on you? Csilla, why don’t you go first?

Csilla: Thank you, Spencer. I am currently studying costume design, and I wanted to join the team to be among other like-minded people and share our love of costume. Euphoria has been on my mind ever since I first watched it. The whole concept and visual world of the series feel very close to my heart. Unorthodox hits on a different emotional level. I spent the first few minutes concentrating just on the costumes of the show. I was uncertain what period this story was taking place in, and it made the whole concept of the isolation so striking. The wedding scene was so beautiful, uncomfortable, and terrifying to watch. I am a huge fan of both of these series. 

Spencer: I totally agree with you Csilla. Especially when it comes to Euphoria-that show was so good I still find myself thinking about the costumes, colors, makeup, music… everything! Elizabeth, how about you?

Elizabeth: I studied costume design in college and I also joined the Art of Costume team to share my love and admiration for costumes with others. This year’s nominees are incredible; there were three that stood out to me, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Carnival Row, and Unorthodox. The costumes brought you into worlds that we don’t typically see or create a new one in Carnival Row’s case. 

Spencer: It’s so good to have you with us Elizabeth. Candice, turning it over to you.

Candice:  I have always loved costume design and used to scrapbook every magazine article about costume designers I would come across. I wanted to join the team to share my love of costume design, like Csilla, with like-minded people. Schitt’s Creek was amazing and as I re-watch the series I fall in love with the costumes even more. Carnival Row was visually stunning and while watching that series, I remember just saying out loud to myself just how much I loved the costumes each episode. The episode from Killing Eve that was nominated was my favorite episode in terms of costumes from the entire season. Of course, I also want to recreate every look from the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Spencer: I couldn’t agree with you more when it comes to Schitt’s Creek, but we will get into that a little later! Last but not least, Jada I would love to hear from you.

Jada: It’s so important to surround yourself with people who can challenge and push you to try new things and be the best that you can be. That is what The Art of Costume does! I’ve learned so much from the team and can’t wait to see what’s in store. My connection to costume design is that it’s been a part of me ever since I was younger. I went from making my own Halloween costumes to being on the theater costume crew. Ironically this has been a great year for television especially since most of us have been quarantining and were able to binge-watch so many series over the last few months. Even though I haven’t seen some of the shows nominated, the costumes from Euphoria, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Pose, and Schitt’s Creek has definitely left me intrigued and wanting to binge all of them! 

Pose, Season 2

Spencer: Thank you Jada, and thank you to all of you for being here. I can’t tell you how happy I am to be having this discussion with each of you. We really have created a great team, and I am so thrilled about our future together. Well, let’s get started then! We are going to go through each of the four costume design award categories. First, let’s talk about the Outstanding Period Costumes category. What a fabulous lineup of shows! The Crown, Hollywood, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Mrs.America, and Pose. Any thoughts?

Elizabeth: I started and finished The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel this year and couldn’t believe I had waited so long to watch it. The story of Midge Maisel trying to shake conventions of the fifties to live her own life is fascinating and engaging, but the costumes bring you into her world. With many period pieces, the costumes can act as props to tell you when and where you are. But with Mrs. Maisel, the costumes are a huge part of what brings you into her world with eye-catching designs and bright colors that tell you everything you need to know about that scene and the characters in it. 

Candice: I loved the Old Hollywood take on the 1940’s costumes in Hollywood. The color palettes and silhouettes of the era that were used made the entire season visually stunning. The attention to detail on recreating as close as possible the historic events that are infused into the story-line as well as designing the fictional narratives still staying true to the era and glamour of that time. The ’70s is usually my least favorite era, but the costumes in Mrs. America have made me reconsider that particular stance. 

Jada: Although I haven’t seen The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel I have read about it, including Candice’s article on the costume design, and must I say that the costumes are absolutely marvelous! The 1950s-1960s era of fashion is hands down my favorite era of all time and Donna Zakowska does a fantastic job of bringing that to this show. I love how the costumes are so vibrant and lively. You can really tell how much thought and creativity goes into each one of the looks.

Spencer: Lots of love for Donna Zakowska and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel in this group. I love it! Personally, I had two favorites this year, The Crown and Pose. I thought the costumes for The Crown this season were just incredible. Amy Roberts did a wonderful job. I can go on and on about the perfection that was the wardrobe for Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret. I think that was the best part of the whole show honestly! Then, of course, I love Pose. Analucia McGorty blew me away once again with the costumes for Pose. They remain true to the NYC Ballroom scene of the early ’90s, yet they always feel new, exciting, couture, and inspiring.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Now it’s time for the Outstanding Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes, my personal favorite. Carnival Row, The Mandalorian, Westworld, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Watchmen. Does anyone have any favorites?

Elizabeth: With Carnival Row, being an original screenplay with no source material to compare it to, costume designer Joanna Eatwell helped create a whole new world. The look is entirely original with rich colors and attention to unique details while still grounded in reality with silhouettes influenced by late-Victorian and Edwardian fashion. 

Candice: I agree with Elizabeth. I loved Carnival Row’s mix of period pieces and fantasy. It did a great job of cohesively blending the designs and species of the characters. When it is a fantasy show, you do not have to be historically accurate in the period pieces used and I love how they incorporated the Edwardian Fashions. The Handmaid’s Tale’s costumes evoke such strong emotions with the colors and design. 

Jada: I spent most of my childhood time playing Stars Wars Battlefront with my cousin. With that being said The Mandalorian would have been one of my top choices, but I’m going to go with The Handmaid’s Tale. I love how iconic the red cape look is. There’s so much research that goes into the costumes in this show to display the character’s emotions. Even the smallest of details add so much meaning.

Spencer: Jada we totally got to link up and play some Star Wars Battlefront sometime. I am the best pilot in Pasadena *laughs*. This category is also another hard one. I am undecided once again, between Westworld and The Handmaid’s Tale. Shay Cunliffe had the incredible task of not only dressing a futuristic, more fashionable world- she also had to turn back time and develop costumes for an entire simulated world based upon Nazi-occupied Italy during World War II. From beginning to end, the costumes for Westworld are just…beyond. Then there is The Handmaid’s Tale, designed by one of my favorites, Natalie Bronfman. The costumes of The Handmaid’s Tale are imperative to the story. I love the costumes for this show so much because they are so symbolic, through their silhouettes, colors, textures. The Handmaid’s Tale serves as a masterclass when it comes to storytelling through costume design.

Westworld, Season 3

Moving on to Outstanding Contemporary Costumes. This is the most packed category of them all in my opinion. Euphoria, black-ish, Grace and Frankie, Schitt’s Creek, Killing Eve, Unorthodox, and The Politician. I mean, there are so many good shows!

Csilla: For me, Euphoria stood out the most. There was an amazing collaboration between the costume and makeup department, they truly created something unique and the whole show played on a different, fresh perspective. The stories of these teenagers were beautifully present through the evolution of their styles. I really enjoyed this stylized version of contemporary fashion. I loved every frame of that show, so fingers crossed for them!

Elizabeth: Every nominee in this category is incredible. However, the costumes of Unorthodox caught my eye immediately. With so much of the story taking place within a New York City Hasidic community where the way of life is vastly different from most viewers. While it could be hard to bring people into that world without exposition; however, Unorthodox manages to do just that. The costume is a huge part of this, with no detail of the community’s stringent dress code or its religious significance overlooked. This accuracy tells you immediately who the people in this community are and what is important to them.   

Candice: This is a hard category for me because I loved the brilliance of Schitt’s Creek and how the costumes truly defined the characters. Unorthodox allowed us to see into a community that we normally would not be allowed access. The details that went into making sure that the Hasidic Jewish community was represented correctly while still working to convey a visually compelling story is a true testament to the costume designer’s talent. I love the character’s costumes in Grace and Frankie and how each one has their own distinct style but they still blend together in this hodge-podge of a group that wouldn’t normally gather together except for their circumstance and family. The Politician truly redefined the “Power Suit”. Black-ish is iconic and whenever I watch the series, it makes me wish I could be as cool as costume designer, Michelle R. Cole, and the characters she designs. 

Jada: This category is so hard because each show brings something new and interesting to the table. Black-ish introduces heavy topics yet always brings comedic relief. Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda’s chemistry in Grace and Frankie is everything I need and more! However, my vote goes to Euphoria. I love the idea that Euphoria challenges societal norms in fashion. The costumes are so aesthetically pleasing with a striking balance between fantasy/illusion and contemporary design. You can’t forget the makeup looks! They’re so bold yet deep and convey messages about each character’s feelings and personalities.

Spencer: Okay I can hardly wait to talk about Schitt’s Creek. Schitt’s Creek is one is of my favorite shows. The costumes play a large role in that choice. Debra Hanson, the costume designer for Schitt’s Creek, has such an eye and really brought these fascinating characters to life. I am such a fan, and I personally would love to see the finale season of this show celebrated at the Emmys. I also want to mention costume designers Claire and Lily Parkinson who served as costume designers for The Politician. I will forever be obsessed with the colorful wardrobe created for this show, specifically for characters Dede Standish and Hadassah Gold (Judith Light and Bette Midler). They deserve awards for those costumes alone! Finally, Euphoria was beyond fantastic. The costume design of Euphoria by Heidi Bivens captured the street style trends of today’s youth so perfectly. Years from now when e are looking back at this time, we will refer to Euphoria to explore fashion trends of the decade and I assume these costumes will be setting trends for the years to come.

Schitt’s Creek

Finally, let’s move into the Outstanding Costumes For A Variety, Nonfiction Or Reality Program. This category includes Dancing With The Stars, Drunk History, The Masked Singer, RuPaul’s Drag Race, and Saturday Night Live.

Jada: I’ve watched Dancing with the Stars and Saturday Night Live ever since I was young. I love how fun, expressive, and representative Rupaul’s Drag Race is. One of the major parts of the show is the costumes, which makes it an even tougher decision. But if I had to choose, I would vote for The Masked Singer. The time and effort put into each and every one of these one-of-a-kind costumes is extraordinary. Plus the ability to make each of the costumes ready to perform in takes a lot of talent. Their hard work has definitely paid off.

Candice: It is truly fascinating, how the Dancing with the Stars’ costume designers can create such beautiful costumes that have to work on a dance / technical level in such a short period of time and how those costumes perfectly convey the contestants’ themes before a note of music or dance step is even performed. However, I did love Drunk History’s episode Fame, as it was one of my favorite episodes. The simplistic design of the unitard costume representing, Masterpiece, the poodle,  worn by Ken Marino, and the Catwoman scene was comedic gold.

Spencer: I always have a special place in my heart for RuPaul’s Drag Race and the work of Zaldy Goco. However, this year I have to agree with Jada on this one. Marina Toybina’s costume design work for The Masked Singer is beyond impressive. So much work goes into these costumes. These characters that Marina has had to make are so creative and innovative, then she takes these unique ideas and turns them into fully functional performance-based costumes. So much technology is infused within them. The textiles are extravagant. Everything about these costumes just brings me such joy. I am in awe and I think it would be so deserving of Marina to take home the Emmy this year.

The Masked Singer

 Well, team, this has been so fun! Thank you again for joining me. I am so blessed to have you all apart of the team, and I look forward to the great work we will do together. Most of all, thank you to the readers for following along with us. We are beyond thrilled for all of these talented costume designers and are cheering on each and every designer nominated this year. See you all at The Emmys!


Thank you to The Art of Costume contributors, Csilla, Elizabeth, Candice, and Jada for joining me. Get to know the extended team by clicking here!