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!

Netflix’s Rebecca: The Perfect Wardrobe Inspiration

After endless months of being stuck indoors shrouded in comfortable layers, we wish to see the world in our chicest attires. Without a mask when possible! A job that pays to travel, and a European backdrop with the James Dean of our dreams. Netflix’s Rebecca is the perfect wardrobe inspiration.

Photo: Kerry Brown/Courtesy of Netflix

It’s safe to say that we are still dumbfounded by Lily James portrayal in last year’s release, Rebecca, who played the timid yet appealing Mrs. De Winters as she adorned 2020’s most celebrated trends. Her wardrobe breathed cottage-core aesthetics from lacey details to soft hues and fabrics. No shortage of Peter pan collars and puffed sleeves. The audience was basking in the beauty of the French Riviera like an Old-Hollywood style diva.

Photo: Kerry Brown/Courtesy of Netflix

Adapted from the novel of the same name, “Rebecca” by Daphne du Maurier is a chilling story with a scenic visual representation. A lexicon of period-authentic styles, inspired by the style icon of the eras and beachwear photography, as the costume designer of the movie Julian Day explains in an interview with Fashionista, “Even though it’s period correct, it was the idea that anyone literally could go out now and buy the outfit of each character” which is literally the case as we spotted Harry Styles favored knitted cardigan and pearl detailing on Mrs. De Winters, and retro bowling shirt on Mr. De Winters.

Photo: Kerry Brown/Courtesy of Netflix

The story unfolds with a clumsy and awkward Lily in an ill-fitted skirt suit making her way through a lavish interior. In cue to attract the most influential man of the crowd Mr. De Winter; soon enough, Lily’s sartorial choices developed. Her blonde bob hair-do is adorned with variations of berets, raffia, and bucket hats, her wardrobe saw a rich amalgamation of fabrics from tweed to delicate silks and cotton to lightweight knits as she indulged in summer silhouettes.

From cascading blouses to pussy-bow collars and balloon waisted tops with blowing palazzo pants, Julian explains in an interview with WWD “her style develops with the blossoming of the love she has with Maxim, she takes on a romantic silhouette”. Another detail that we connected with was the repetition of outfits. Leads rarely repeat outfits, which made her more into a girl next door further appealing to our likes.

Photo: Kerry Brown/Courtesy of Netflix

As her journey shifts from a plain shy girl to a country lady after setting foot in Manderley as Mrs. De Winters wearing a gray collarless wrap-front coat. Soon enough, her closet hints at the transformation too from regular blouses to more twinsets and feminine silhouettes. You see edgy silhouettes washing off the colors from bright and pastel to dark and subdued. One such fit was that of a tweed pantsuit paired with a turtleneck (a reviving and most donned trend) for which Julian got inspired by the silver screen legends of the era like Katharine Hepburn, Greta Garbo, and Marlene Dietrich who historically gave birth to androgynous fashion by wearing pants in the 30s.

Photo: Kerry Brown/Courtesy of Netflix

Julian explains her look further to Vogue UK by adding, “I studied a lot of Wallis Simpson’s looks, and also Coco Chanel’s, particularly during the period when she was having an affair with the Duke of Westminster and would wear a lot of men’s oversized tweed jackets”. One of the more riveting looks was the Chanel inspired custom-made golden boucle suit. Rebecca proved to be a fashion-forward watch and the perfect wardrobe inspiration. At times it is necessary to bring a book alive and give the audience a visual treat. This was one of those times!

Rebecca is now available to stream on Netflix

Works Cited

Hoo, Fawnia Soo. “The Old Hollywood-Inspired, Period-Authentic Costumes in ‘Rebecca’ Feel Exceptionally Modern.” Fashionista, Fashionista, 21 Oct. 2020, fashionista.com/2020/10/netflix-rebecca-movie-costumes-outfits.

Maitland, Hayley. “Every Symbolic Detail Woven Into The Costumes Of Netflix’s ‘Rebecca’ Adaptation.” British Vogue, British Vogue, 20 Oct. 2020, http://www.vogue.co.uk/arts-and-lifestyle/article/rebecca-netflix-costumes.

Tauer, Kristen. “Costume Designer Julian Day Reimagines the Sartorial Landscape of ‘Rebecca’.” WWD, WWD, 19 Oct. 2020, wwd.com/eye/lifestyle/rebecca-costume-designer-julian-day-netflix-1234638583/.

MADE LIKE MAISEL: Admiring The Marvelous Costumes One Stitch at a Time

Congratulations to the cast and crew of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on their 20 Emmy nominations. Since the highly anticipated first episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel in the Spring of 2017, the Amazon Prime Original series has continued to capture the viewers with the artistry of costume designer, Donna Zakowska’s late 1950s and early 1960s designs.

Photo by Morgan Donner

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is a witty period comedy-drama following the life of Miriam “Midge” Maisel. “In 1958 New York, Midge Maisel’s life is on track – husband, kids, and elegant Yom Kippur dinners in their Upper West Side apartment. But when her life takes a surprising turn, she has to quickly decide what she’s good at – and going from housewife to stand-up comic is a wild choice to everyone but her.” (Amazon Prime)

Zakowska and her team have successfully continued season after season to immerse the viewers in the bygone era where men were dapper and women wore feminine silhouettes that were modest yet form-fitting, demure but celebrated a woman’s figure.

The show’s costumes send the fans into a nostalgic world of yesteryear where Zakowska’s use of bold colors, draping, prints, patterns and beautifully curated matching hats and accessories have even the most novice sewer wishing to recreate the genius that appears on the screen.

Each stitch of a costume, cosplay, history bounding outfit, or exact replica created by the online sewing community is a virtual fan letter to the show’s costume designer. If Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Donna Zakowska and her costume department have an abundance of online adulation from the fans that only continues to grow.

To write that the show resonates with those who watch would be an understatement, one example is the Facebook group WeSewRetro: Sewing Marvelous Mrs. Maisel that was created specifically for those inspired to sew outfits from the Amazon Prime show. It is a supportive group where members discuss the Maisel outfits they are working on, share resources on patterns/techniques, and offer advice to those in need. The group pays homage to the costumes by sharing their Maisel exact replicated looks or an inspired version with each member posting their pictures with pride and the community providing encouragement, help, and tips along the way.

Diane Presley is a member of that Facebook Group who created a self-imposed Maisel-a-Month challenge on Instagram that was featured in The Vintage Women Magazine.  Her challenge was to create a new Maisel inspired garment per month. Presley stated in the article, “This project also started as a way to be stylish as Midge without breaking the bank. …Not all outfits are meant to be exact copies, but rather an inspired version of the original. I hope to show others that these outfits are totally achievable for anyone!” You can follow her journey @shimmyshimmysewsewbog or participate in the challenge using #maiselamonth

Another Instagram challenge inspired by The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is by Sam Green @Minimaedelcreates. She was inspired while watching the show with her husband. She knew the comments of “Woah look at that dress” and “Look at that coat!” would be better appreciated within the sewing community than with her husband who didn’t quite extend the same level of admiration and excitement over every slightest detail noticed on Zakowska’s designs. This is where the idea of the challenge #madelikemaisel was created, recreating a favorite look from the show. While the second year of the challenge was slightly different than the first, those who participated said that it was just what they needed during the chaos of COVID and quarantine. This year’s winner was Tricia from @creative.costume.academy and second place was Diane Presley (noted above) with the previous winners as judges.

Tricia Camacho  is the owner of Creative Costume Academy where she virtually helps creatives and stitchers learn the easy basic pattern principles so that they can start making their own designs. Tricia, previously lived in Las Vegas Nevada, where she had her own costume build shop, specializing in pattern making and difficult builds for acrobatic performers. She has worked on numerous large productions while also creating several patterns making workshops for those interested in learning, including a class on her Maisel make.

Fans who have created costumes replicating the designs by Donna Zakowska, use a myriad of ways to accurately portray their envisioned pieces by finding similar new or vintage patterns, altering patterns they have on hand, or drafting their own. Similar to an archaeologist at a dig site, those seeking to recreate the Marvelous designs will watch the show frame by frame, screenshot the images and note every seam-line, intricate detail, and angle available to assist them in the process. There are many sources online to help with recreating a Maisel inspired garment. Within the Costuming Youtube Community, also referred to as Costube, there are many videos to watch which include historical costuming, embroidery, millinery, and sewing for all levels interested. If you don’t know where to begin or who to follow on Youtube, you can go to @costubeguide on Instagram to see upcoming video releases. However, there are also specific videos on the making of costumes inspired by The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Morgan Donner is one such Costuber. You can view her four sewing parties “dress diary” videos related to the making of her Maisel Red Evening Gown Dress or read about her journey and the costumes that were contenders before deciding on the recreation of the iconic red dress at  MorganDonner.com.

Even the moderator of the WeSewRetro: Sewing Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Shilyn Joy, has several videos on her Youtube channel chronicling all of her Maisel makes in a series posted on the 15th “middle” aka Midge-le of the month.

The viewers are not the only ones who recognize the excellence of Zakowska’s talent. She was recognized by her peers throughout the shows run, winning the Costume Designer’s Guild Award for period television costume the last two years. She won the 2019 Emmy for Outstanding Period Costume for the episode “We’re Going To The Catskills!”, nominated in 2018 and again in 2020. In December of 2019, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History acquired two of the costumes for their national entertainment collection which include the blue peignoir nightgown with pink housecoat from the pilot episode as well as the black satin cocktail dress with bows on the straps worn during her comedy performance on the season 1 finale.

If these costumes have reignited your creative side, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel should be on your quarantine re-watch list. It is a guarantee that you may have missed many things when you originally binged the season. It is not always apparent the magnitude of the costumes any Wardrobe Department has to design, shop, curate, and dress for not only the principal characters but also the extras.  Executive Producer, Dan Palladino, and Creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino, stated in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, that on one day of shooting last year there were 850 extras in one airport hanger. The link to the article was posted in the Facebook Group Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and a few of the extras that were there on that specific day recalled filming and wearing the costumes fondly, even in the excessive heat.

However, if you haven’t watched the show, what have you been waiting for? Don’t fret, there is a slight twinge of jealousy from those who are already addicted knowing the butterflies you will feel when you get to fall in love with the costumes for the very first time.

Congratulations to Donna Zakowska and her hardworking team on the well deserved Emmy nomination for 2020 Best Outstanding Period Costumes.

Follow Donna Zakowska on Instagram @dzakowska

Follow The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s Instagram @Maiseltv


The Beguiled (2017): Costume Review

By Nandini Khetan | Aug 18, 2020

Set in the American Civil War, The Beguiled (2017) revolves around the life of women in a Southern boarding school as they provide refuge and tend to the wounds of a Union Soldier found in the woods. As captivating as the tale sounds the visual depiction is equally beguiling (as the name goes) from the decaying vintage residence to the ethereal yet effortless costumes which present a contemporary take on the women Civil War outfits from the 1860’s. Costume Designer Stacey Battat refashioned the dark and dull mourning color palette from that era to a fresh and lively off-whites and pastels in the movie giving each character a distinct print and texture. Although fashion was of least concern to the women living on their own learning french, mending clothes, plucking mushrooms and humming to their beats while repeating outfits to portray their meager condition the sudden arrival of a male figure in the mysterious mansion changed the air between the women who started ornamenting for the foreign refugee in lace and ribbon trimmings.

Stacey also worked on redefining silhouettes of the 1860’s, an era when women adorned tight-fitted corsets to hoop skirts. Instead she gave the cast billowy fabrics to move around freely during their chores with a pinner apron over their full-long flowy skirts and a Garibaldi blouse (a shared look among the women) matching each character’s traits to their wardrobes. As the head of the house, Miss Martha’s (played by Nicole Kidman) stern and authoritative persona donned shades of ivory buttoned straight collar Civil War dresses with geometric prints accessorizing in a straw-ribbon hat, granny boots & a brooch while her upper silhouette seemed like a man’s vest (which is symbolic of that time frame) indicating she is in charge and her curls tied up in a loose back-bun.

Actress Nicole Kidman as Miss Martha in the movie

The most transformed style after the soldier’s arrival was that of Edwina (played by Kirsten Dunst). Her character glorified as she fell for him from solid white Garibaldi blouses, to a variation of polka dot mesh blouses. Stacey worked with ultra-fine fabrics to give Edwina’s outfits a romantic touch in lace trim collar with a ribbon, to boning blouses,small floral prints all with light hues her hair in a beauteous braided neat bun complementing her appearance.

Actress Kirsten Dunst as Edwina in the movie

While the young Alicia’s (played by Elle Fanning) flirtatious character defined her closet well from lilac to margarine yellow in a variation of Lolita blouses & ruffles being her second skin. From yoke ruffled blouses to ruffle tiered skirts in candy stripes and small floral prints, Alicia’s long open tresses and flushed cheeks worked like a charm in defining her persona.

Actress Elle Fanning as Alicia in the movie

Even the younger girls seemed to enjoy the new company, moving around in pretty outfits from plaid, gingham, and floral adorning peter-pan collars & soft hues. Each character’s distinct wardrobe choices described them and their shared love for an evening gown that they donned at the dinner table for the soldier (twice) unified them as the neckline dropped off-the-shoulder in a Bertha neckline with a folded band of fabric with small flowers & ribbons or lace trimming and different sleeves, from bell to puff or trumpet, each in their core color palette impressing the refugee.

Young Girls of the boarding school in the movie
A still from the movie

As the movie neared its climax, we are given a glimpse of the Victorian nightgown which is indicative of that period. We witnessed the vivid portrayal of the 1860’s through costumes as the tale took over, leaving us beguiled.