At long last, The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will open its doors to the public on Thursday, September 30, 2021. Located in Los Angeles, this exciting new museum is the largest in North America devoted to exploring films and film culture. This brilliant new museum also emphasizes the importance of costume design and costume designers’ essential roles in the film industry. I was honored by The Academy Museum with an invitation to tour the exhibitions before the public, and I’ll just say, it was worth the wait!
It felt like a dream walking through the halls of The Academy Museum, full of costume surprises around every corner. Though I walked in with an idea of what I would see, I constantly came across acquisitions that made the hair stand up on my arms.
We first moved into a large gallery containing a chronological walk-through of Academy Awards history from 1929 to the present, an overview of the origins of the Oscars and the Academy, memorable wins and infamous snubs, Oscars fashion, and wraparound screens showcasing significant acceptance speeches.
The moment I knew I was in for quite the magical evening was when I came across the infamous 1986 Bob Mackie ensemble Cher wore to present an award at the Oscars. I was standing in the presence of one of the most famous outfits to grace a red carpet! Me being a Cher super-fan, I felt like I could have passed out. Luckily for me, Assistant Curator J. Raúl Guzmán (and my brilliant guide for the evening) was there to catch my fall.
We then proceeded on to The Identity gallery. The Identity gallery was the museum’s shining North Star for those who love and respect costume design art. Within this gallery, there are more than forty costumes and costume design sketches on view representing a wide swath of film history from the last century, including Lady Sings The Blues (1972), The Wiz (1978), Frida (2002), Us (2019), and Rocketman (2019). In addition, there is a display highlighting a single costume designer, which opens with costumes designed byMary Zophres. And yes, you will see The Dude’s bathrobe ensemble worn by Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowski (1998).
There was one costume; however, I could not take my eyes off. Honestly, I never imagined myself stepping into the presence of the famous May Queen gown designed byAndrea Flesch worn by Florence Pugh in Midsommar (2019). Honestly, images don’t even do this gown justice, and I would say just seeing this gown is worth the price of admission.
The fun continued as we made our way through The Academy Museum and into The Encounters gallery, full of unique costume design. This gallery looks at the artistry that brings the worlds of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror to life, featuring original set pieces, costumes, and iconic characters, including C-3PO, E.T., and R2-D2. There were some showstopping costumes in this exhibit that I have always wanted to see, such as the iconic Edward Scissorhands costume by Colleen Atwood. Of course, no exhibit would be complete without the famed Dora Milaje armor worn by Okoye (Danai Gurira) in Black Panther by Academy Award-winning costume designerRuth Carter.
One of the most magical moments within The Academy Museum took place in The Encounters gallery as I approached a costume that still sends chills down my spine. Why it was none other than one of the infamous gowns worn by Gary Oldman in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. What else is there to say? It was powerful and actually brought me to quiet tears. I was happy I snuck away from Assistant Curator J. Raúl Guzmán for a moment so that he couldn’t see me quietly having an emotional moment.
The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures dedicates quite a lot of space to the legendary costume designer, Eiko Ishioka. On my tour, I got to see Ishioka’s Oscar she won for her costume design work on Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the envelope and card to announce her well-deserved win, and even the Japanese poster for Francis Coppola’s 1979 film Apocalypse Now, designed by Eiko Ishioka.
Aside from all of the fantastic costumes I have shared with you, the seven-story, 300,000-square-foot museum will open with:
the 30,000-square-foot core exhibition Stories of Cinema, offering celebratory, critical, and personal perspectives on the disciplines and impact of moviemaking, past, and present
the temporary exhibition Hayao Miyazaki, the first museum retrospective in North America of the work of the acclaimed filmmaker and Studio Ghibli
The Path to Cinema: Highlights from the Richard Balzer Collection, with selections from the world’s foremost holdings of pre-cinematic optical toys and devices
Backdrop: An Invisible Art, a double-height installation that presents the painting of Mount Rushmore used in North by Northwest (USA, 1959)
And The Oscars® Experience presented in the East West Bank Gallery, an immersive simulation that lets visitors imaginatively step onto the stage of the Dolby Theatre to accept an Academy Award®.
I cannot recommend this experience enough. I could have spent all day in this museum. Actually, I kind of did spend all day, and I still don’t think I saw everything I wanted to. This museum recognizes the importance of costume designers and gives proper credit to the incredible designers around the world, past and present, for their imperative contributions to film. Tickets are available now, so please head to the website for The Academy Museum and reserve your spot today!
Thank you to The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures for inviting me to experience this brand new museum, and thank you to Assistant Curator J. Raúl Guzmán for sharing your infinite knowledge with me as we explored this one-of-a-kind experience.
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 byGabriele 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!
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.
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 byJeriana 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’sPersephone – 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.
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!
Spencer: Hey Team! Thank you so much for being here. There is SO much great costume design in the Outstanding Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes category this year. On a personal note, this is always my favorite category, so I am just beyond excited. Let’s go around and talk about your favorites, and why! Let’s start with Candice!
Candice: I loved Lovecraft Country. Dayna Pink’s costumes are genius. It was the only reason I paid for an HBO subscription.
WandaVision was another favorite of mine. I usually am not a fan of the ’70s, but I am obsessed with Geraldine’s 70’s ensemble from episode 3. However, I loved it even more after listening toSpencer and Elizabeth’s podcast. I never noticed the subtle hints through costume when I watched it each week. I had many “Oh My, how did I miss that” moments when listening to the podcast.
Umbrella Academyis a top favorite of mine. The oddball characters were brilliantly executed. I need every costume designed for Kate Walsh, the Handler, in my closet now. Christopher Hargadondid a great job!
Spencer: Candice, I couldn’t agree more. All of your picks were so fun! Now I would love to hear from Elizabeth. You and I share a great love for Fantasy/Sci-Fi! What were some of your favorites this year?
Elizabeth: Hey everyone! My personal favorite this year has to be WandaVision. While it’s not a classic Sci-Fi show in visual terms, the costumes in WandaVision help tell a complex story of how we process grief. In its nominated episode, Filmed Before a Live Studio Audience, Wanda is in the denial stage of her grief and is creating her idealized version of the perfect 1950’s sitcom. The costumes are soft with full fluffy skirts, frilly aprons, and feathery lingerie create a cocoon for Wanda, sheltering her from her grief. Mayes C. Rubeo truly turns emotions into costume and I love that about WandaVsion.
Spencer: Such a great point Elizabeth. WandaVision was filled with so much symbolism.
For me, I am a HUGE fan of Dayna Pink and her work on Lovecraft Country. This was by far one of my favorite shows of the year, and I thought Dayna did such an incredible job. Dayna not only mastered the 1950’s period costume, but she also had to work with lots of time traveling – exploring the 1920’s, The Korean War, The Kingdom of Dahomey, and the future! Not to mention all of the horror elements that led to much aging and dyeing of costumes. I would personally love to see Dayna win this year’s award.
Spencer: Thank you both for joining me! Before you go, do you have any good sci-fi /fantasy shows or films to recommend?
Candice: I recommend and loved The Nevers. It is period mixed with SciFi. The Victorian-inspired costumes and setting are as intriguing as the storyline. I want to rewatch The Witcher before the premiere of Season 2. I love Motherland: Fort Salem on Free Form. The story of witches is told from a different angle, witch militia, working with the military and against other witches. Stranger Things season 1-3 if you haven’t watched it and have to wait an eternity like the rest of us for the next season. I am currently watching and enjoying Fantasy Island. Each guest who visits the island learns the fantasy they want is different than what they need.
Elizabeth: I can not recommend Doom Patrol enough! It’s SciFi and superheroes dialed to a hundred with a great balance of comedy and drama. Also, the costumes are diverse and interesting in every episode. Spencer: If you are not watching What We Do In The Shadows, you are seriously missing out. The new season is out, and costume designer Laura Montgomery is doing a fabulous job! Check it out!
Vote For Your Favorite Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes Below!
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 KathleenFelix-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 abig 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 DesignerTaneia 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!
These days, everyone could use some color and positivity in their life. Luckily for us, the hit Netflix series Julie and the Phantoms delivered just that! I felt so inspired by the vibrancy of the costumes in this show, I just had to talk with the Emmy Award-Winning costume designer behind the show, Soyon An. Soyon’s previous work includes Jem and the Holograms, So You Think You Can Dance, and Step Up All In. Excitingly, Soyon was just awarded her third Emmy win due to her brilliant work on Julie and the Phantoms! I am so grateful for the opportunity to have interviewed Soyon, and I hope you will enjoy.
Spencer: Soyon! I am so excited to talk to you finally. You are famous over here at The Art of Costume! We are big fans.
Soyon: Thank you so much! Happy to be here!
Spencer: Before we get started, congratulations are in order! Because of your brilliant work on Julie and the Phantoms, you just celebrated your third Emmy win! I am so happy for you as it is so well deserved! What does this award mean to you?
Soyon: Thank you! This award means a lot to me, especially coming out of this past year of COVID, which has put many things into perspective. Specifically for Julie and the Phantoms to result in an Emmy win is so special and meaningful knowing that I intentionally left reality and variety shows because I wanted to focus on more script-driven and narrative projects. Julie was my first scripted episodic and for it to result in an Emmy really solidifies the whole reason I took this job and made this move. It’s so exciting to know that I can try new things even at this stage of my career and continue to grow. I’m so grateful.
Spencer:I am excited to talk more about Julie and the Phantoms, but first, I find your journey to be quite fascinating. I would love to hear a little about how you got your start in costume design?
Soyon: Since high school, I have loved fashion and art. I always creatively expressed myself through clothing, but at the time, I didn’t know that this could be a career choice. During my senior year of high school, I had to decide what college to attend. I decided to pursue my passion for art and apply for the Otis College of Art and Design. I focused my portfolio on design for fashion, and I got a scholarship. And this is where I discovered my love for fashion design.
Jumping to when I was 24 years old and working in the industry, I was the costume designer for the SYTYCD Tour and then, at 26, the show, which was my first big network show plus my first department head credit. My work on this resulted in my first Emmy at 27. Thinking about it now, my first ever TV show and department head credit and I won! It’s such a full-circle moment when thinking of Julie and the Phantoms as my first episodic project and now having my third Emmy win. It’s wild to think of this.
And it all stems from my love for art. I’ve always considered myself an artist, and I love to bring art into fashion; now, I get to bring art into costume design.
Spencer:I absolutely loved this show. I have had the soundtrack on repeat in preparation for this interview. I loved it all, the music, the characters, and above all the costumes! It felt like you just had so much fun with it. Because of that, the audience had so much fun. Each character had their unique style, and I loved watching those styles move throughout the series. Let’s start by diving into what inspired Julie, the main character’s, style?
Soyon: The main thing that inspired Julie’s style was her journey and her character growth throughout the show.
The whole premise of her character was that she was a student in an art school, and she lived in Los Feliz, so I had to really embrace what a teenager would dress like in this environment. Julie already expressed herself through art, so figuring out how that would translate into her everyday style choices was a fun, creative part of my work. She truly marches to the beat of her own drum, and you can see that in everything she wears, all the way down to the doodles on her sneakers and jeans. She is an artist and creative.
I also made sure to embrace her character having a Latinx heritage. I threw in nuances of her roots, so you see this in her jewelry and more prominently in her daydream during ‘I Got the Music’ with the marching band cape that features a custom embroidered, hand-crystaled Virgin Mary.
Another large part of Julie and her journey is the intimate feelings she has in the remembrance of her mom, so this was also a big part of creating her character. This is seen when she incorporates a lot of her mom’s hand-me-downs and the Dahlia flowers, a symbol for her mom.
Spencer:By the end of the series, Julie has gone through quite the metamorphosis (literally, she was wearing a dress covered in butterflies at one point). What was your thought process in creating Julie’s final looks compared to when we first meet her?
Soyon: Julie’s costumes at the end of the series — with her free-flowing hair, her bouncy skirt, and the vibrant colors of her dress — reflect her embrace of her mom’s passing, as well as the passing of her new friends Luke, Alex, and Reggie. I love this scene because we see Julie growing up by accepting all the transitions of her life. She is more confident in who she is and has this newfound confidence in her creative expression, singing, and songwriting. It was really a full-circle moment in costume storytelling by the time we get to the final episode.
I wanted her to exude this confidence for the final look, so she is wearing a dress her mom made her and her mom’s vintage jacket. I had actually already established Sunset Curve’s colors with Alex primarily having pink, Reggie in a rock ‘n’ roll red, and Luke in this classic blue; so the color choice for Julie naturally had to also represent rock ‘n’ roll since they are playing this awesome music venue as a band. That deep purple was the perfect color to connect them all beautifully.
Spencer:I’ll admit, I became a bit of a fangirl for Sunset Curve, a rock band from the 90s. When it came to the costuming of the guys in the band, it was actually quite hilarious to me because this 90s fashion is now back in style today in 2021! What fashion trends from that decade did you incorporate into their characters and costume design?
Soyon: For Luke, I incorporated the rock ‘n’ roll tees, the black rock ‘n’ roll skinny jeans, the vans, and obviously the muscle tee cut (you’re welcome!!). I wanted to bring in some vintage 70s and 80s style as a nod to the 90s style, so we added a trench to his wardrobe. I made it Luke’s own by making it a denim tie-dye, more rock ‘n’ roll, and LA surfer boy since that is who he is.
For Reggie, I wanted to keep that timeless classic rock style. My inspiration was James Dean and Marlon Brando because even in the 90s, that was your classic rock look. The elements I brought into his wardrobe were the flannel tied around the waist, shredded knee denim, and a pointed-toe leather boot.
For Alex, I wanted to keep him very athleisure, which was very much the 90s street style! I did this with his hoodies, cargo pants, and of course, his Nike Air Max. His socks had to be statements, which is a trend we all saw back in the 90s. And who could forget his fanny pack! For this accessory, I wanted Alex to be more of a trendsetter. He wears it across his body, which is now totally in.
Spencer: Dirty Candi, the girl group, now those were some fun costumes! They were full of color and different textures. I was reminded of your work on Jem and The Holograms when I saw the group perform! How did you approach costuming Dirty Candi?
Soyon: With Dirty Candi, I absolutely played off of Kenny Ortega’s fantastic direction. The way he described Dirty Candi visually was as if ‘a sucker or lollipop that you are enjoying, fell on the ground and picked up all this dirt. What would that look like?’ I loved it so much and ran with it! This is why I incorporated many bright colors with sparkles and crystals to represent the rocks in dirt.
Another significant aspect of my creative conversations with Kenny was that since Carrie is a girl who has a lot of money, she would totally be the person to hire Katy Perry’s stylist. Good thing I have actually worked with Katy before! So I had to think about what would she be wearing? She would have all her performance outfits custom-made and creatively extra. Dirty Candi’s looks were completely designed and built from scratch. Carrie wouldn’t want anything off the rack!
It’s also really fun that you mentioned Jem because I wanted the girls to be bright and colorful for that film. But for Dirty Candi, there were five girls, and I wanted each girl to be a color of the rainbow. My inspiration was K-pop girl groups and Jolly Ranchers, which are literally see-through candy. I thought of this for the types of fabrics I wanted to use. I used vinyl and organza for this inspiration, and all the crystals are the “dirty” of Dirty Candi.
Spencer:Julie and the Phantoms prompted a reunion between you and Kenny Ortega, now having worked on multiple projects together. What is the collaborative process like between the two of you?
Soyon: The collaboration between Kenny and I is always super fun! Kenny is a director that is full of life and vibrancy. He is pure magic. The way he illustrates his vision makes my job so easy; I can see the colors and the costumes immediately in my mind as he speaks. When I work with him, there is always a lot of fun banter and collaboration because we just get each other. For Julie specifically, I loved working with him because the ideas kept evolving and got better and better; I’m so happy with what we created together for the show.
Spencer:Was there a costume that you found more challenging? Which costume are you the proudest of?
Soyon: I don’t have a favorite because I love them all; they are like my children, you can’t pick a favorite!
There were two challenging costumes. The first was Julie’s finale dress because I had to factor in a lot of different parameters, such as Julie’s body type, how to elongate her on the stage while keeping her the sneakerhead that she is, keeping it youthful, finding the right color, not making it too sexy, keeping the skirt a certain length, and making sure she can breathe and perform, plus have duplicates for her body doubles.
I also had Netflix’s restrictions of it being a family show, so I couldn’t make the skirt too short. To problem solve this, I threw in the 90s biker shorts. I ended up coming up with the high-low skirt and kept the back long and the front short to help elongate her legs while also showcasing her teeny waist. I wanted it to have a quinceañera vibe, which traditionally is always a cupcake or ball gown type of silhouette. The jacket was originally a vintage Balmaindress that I took apart to use as fabric to make into a cropped bomber. It was a huge task because we needed to hand-sew all the beading down; it took months, but it was worth it.
The second most challenging costumes were for ‘The Other Side of Hollywood’ Hollywood Ghost Club scene. This was because we ended up moving up the shoot date because of location availability. When I thought I had two months to design and build these costumes, I ended up having only two weeks! It was a lot of hands-on and a ton of sleepless nights.
Spencer: Soyon, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me! I had so much. Congratulations again on the success of the show and your well-deserved Emmy win! I can’t wait to see what’s next.
Soyon: Thank you again, Spencer! This was fun! I’ll be sure to let you know what I’m working on right now when I can; it is next-level!
This year, audiences were blessed with a real Netflix treasure, Halston. Netflix’s Halston is a masterpiece, strengthened by the performances, sets, music, but most of all, the costumes. Costume designer Jeriana San Juan is nominated for a 2021 Emmy, and wow, talking about well deserved! Let’s dive into the costumes of Halston and why I think the costumes by Jeriana San Juan are some of the best I’ve ever seen. Included are some quotes from my interview with Jeriana, which can be heard in the YouTube video below or by listening to The Art of Costume Blogcast through Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you like to listen!
Jeriana San Juan was the costume designer on this project, but she also worked as a consultant, a real inspiration to actor Ewan McGregor. You see, Ewan had to become Halston in every way possible, meaning he had to know what it’s like to be a fashion designer. “We worked together on how to pull fabric off the roll, how to manipulate a model wearing clothes,” Jeriana told me in an interview on The Art of Costume Blogcast. Jeriana continues by saying she also showed Ewan “those little details like how a designer works, where your eye goes to and when, how you reflect in the mirror for the whole image.” I love this story because it highlights the magic and worth of fashion and costume designers.
One of my favorite parts of this show had to be Krysta Rodriguez’s interpretation of Liza Minnelli. Who doesn’t love Liza with a Z, not Lisa with an S? Krysta’s performance was perfect, but then paired with the brilliant costuming of Jeriana San Juan…a match made in heaven. I loved every look from the “Liza With a Z” performance to Liza’s rehearsal outfit in France. Honestly, I could do an entire show on Liza’s costumes alone. Don’t tempt me with a good time!
Halston was known for his tie-dye silk chiffon caftans, which served as a real breakthrough in the designer’s career. Jeriana approached this “unique challenge” by immersing herself in the research, gathering photos, and even visiting archives. “There are three that are authentic pieces; one was a very special piece,” Jeriana told me, explaining that one of the caftans was actually a garment of the real Halston collection.
My favorite episode of television this year has to be “Versailles.” The Battle of Versailles Fashion Show is one of the more legendary fashion events in our history, taking place on November 28, 1973, in hopes of raising money for The Palace of Versailles restoration. The show pitted French designers Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin, Emanuel Ungaro, Marc Bohan, and Hubert de Givenchy against American designers Oscar de la Renta, Stephen Burrows, and Bill Blass. Anne Klein, and of course, Halston!
“We had these moments in the script that felt almost mythological,” said Jeriana. “When I initially even took on this project, I just always thought in the back of my mind we would never get to really do Versailles. We just wouldn’t; it’s too massive!” Not only was Jeriana responsible for the costumes of Halston and all of the American designers, French designers, and everyone in the crowd. This episode could have been its own mini-series! Jeriana had to find the voices of each of these designers in small little segments, piecing together books and images of the show from photographers such as Bill Cunningham and Andy Warhol. This episode also gave Jeriana a chance to do more dance costumes, as Liza performed “Bonjour Paris” at the fashion show. “I LOVE dance costumes,” Jeriana excitedly told me, mentioning her use of the Halston signature clear sequins for these costumes.
The time has come for us to visit Studio 54! Wow, what a dream! Jeriana was charged with recreating some iconic regulars visiting Studio 54, such as Bianca Jagger, Steve Rubell in his infamous Norma Kamali sleeping bag coat, Divine, and of course, Liza Minnelli. The masterful costume design combined with the colorful sets brought the audience into a world that felt like it could have been the real Studio 54. I remain blown away. The scenes might have been short, but they left a long lasting impression.
When working with the crowds of Studio 54, Jeriana focused on color and playing with textures. “Studio 54 was a real celebration of sequin, beads, denim, t-shirts, and disco heels. There was a combination of textures there that I just appreciate,” said Jeriana. “I really had just too much fun.”
I absolutely loved this show. Each of these episodes was its own work of art that can be binged or seen on its own. However, a large amount of credit goes to costume designer Jeriana San Juan, who gave a masterclass in costume design. Her work told Halston’s story through all of the highs and lows of his life. She used fabric, color, and textures as her weapon and delivered a show that I will always go back to for years to come.
When the opportunity came to me to interviewSpace Jam: A New Legacy costume designer, Melissa Bruning, I immediately said yes! Look, I grew up on the first Space Jam. I remember often camping out in the backyard as a kid. My father would always wheel out the tiniest tv with a VHS player, leaving it up to my brother and me on what movies we would watch. My choices were always The Fifth Element (one of the greatest films of all time) or the original SpaceJam with Michael Jordan! So obviously, when Space Jam: A New Legacy came out, I was stoked!
I get it; when you think of Space Jam, costume design probably wasn’t the first thing to cross your mind. Rabbit season, duck season, basketball, Martians, Tweety Bird… what role could costume design really play in this film? In this week’s episode of The Art of Costume Blogcast, Elizabeth Joy Glassand I sat down with costume designer Melissa Bruning to talk about her work on Space Jam: A New Legacy.
Melissa told us her immediate response to the initial outreach over being costume designer of Space Jam: A New Legacy was “hell yes!” Imagine the opportunity! While she was, of course, excited, there was a task ahead. This task would be pretty daunting for any costume designer, giving the “Toon Squad” basketball uniforms a modern redesign. I asked Melissa about this task and her relationship with the animators. “They were my best buddies,” says Melissa and continued to say the main concern was that “not only would the uniform [have to] look good on Lebron, it had to look good on the toons.”
Melissa had to take a lot of things into consideration when creating the concept. While “Daffy Duck could pretty much wear anything, same with Granny,” not all of the Looney Tunes look great in whites or orange. Remember, the Looney Tunes play basketball in the crazy, video-game-like world of the Serververse… so it is very dark with bright neon accents. With that being said, Melissa and the team settled on the blue color with a new, modern twist of the classic Warner Bros. circle. The new uniforms incorporate all of the same elements of the traditional uniforms while breathing a new modern life into them.
Images of Tune Squad uniforms.. Illustration by Christain Cordella. Photos Courtesy of Melissa Bruning
There were many fun costumes we saw on screen, such as Lebron James appearing in the crazy world of “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “The Matrix,” and the 1942 film “Casablanca.”
Costume Concept Illustrations for the various looks of LeBron James by artist, Christain Cordella
There were costumes made for so many other of our favorite movies and television shows. But one that got away still hurts my heart! Elizabeth and I thought to ourselves, wouldn’t it be cool if we saw Lebron James as a Game of Thrones character? Turns out, the costume was made, but it didn’t make it on screen. My heart! “It was a replica we had made of The Hound from Game of Thrones. It was amazing. We did three fittings in it, and it was heavy as hell,” said Melissa Bruning. Elizabeth and I both screamed, “OH MY GOD!”.
LeBron James in armor inspired by Game of Thrones. Illustration by Christain Cordella. Photo Courtesy of Melissa Bruning
Imagine reading on the script as a costume designer, ‘all of the Warner Bros. villains show up to watch the game’. Where do you even start? Melissa told us she “tried to clear about 250 different categories”. If you look closely, you’ll see Batman villains, Lord Voldemort, The Wicked Witch of The East, Baby Jane Hudson, and Pennywise the Clown from “It.” I could write an entire article on all of the characters seen in this film. “I had one separate costume shop and one separate assistant who, for about 15 weeks, was just making background,” said Melissa Bruning.
The wonderful Don Cheadle played Al-G, a rogue A.I. The costumes on Don’s character were some of the more fun costumes we saw; Elizabeth even mentioned they were her favorite! While you might think costuming Looney Tunes would be the more difficult part of the job, Melissa had a different idea. “I think that the Al-G clothes were the hardest of the movie. What does an algorithm wear?” Melissa decided to focus on things that would make Al-G “shiny,” concentrate on circuitry and sparkle, like the sparkly tracksuit. But also, Al-G adapted to the different personalities relevant to the situation, such as a studio head or a Hall of Fame coach. “He would do whatever was the most pleasing for whoever was looking at him,” said Melissa.
The costume design process behind Space Jam: A New Legacy was incredibly fascinating. For more behind-the-scenes details about the film, please enjoy our interview with costume designer Melissa Bruning. She goes into detail on her ideas behind the uniforms, working with Lebron James, and all of the crazy cameos that took place! That’s all folks!
When it comes to contemporary costume design, people quickly think of a business consisting of nothing but shopping and pulling together rolling racks of clothes from everyday stores. While these elements are, of course, a part of the process, contemporary costume design has every motive to be a strong proponent of storytelling. The HBO limited seriesMare of Easttown with costumes designed by 2021 Emmy-Nominee Meghan Kasperlik is proof of the vast potential of storytelling through contemporary costume design. I had the chance to dive into the process of costuming Easttown in a interview with Mare of Easttown costume designer Meghan Kasperlik – now live on The Art of Costume Blogcast.
Featured Image: Kate Winslet as Detective Mare Sheehan – Photo Credit: Michele K. Short /HBO
“This one is extra special to me because I am really excited that people are seeing the storytelling of costume, and it’s not just about having a fashion moment in a contemporary costume. It’s actually the authenticity of the characters and costumes that really elevated the storytelling. It’s really exciting that people recognize that!”
Meghan Kasperlik – The Art of Costume Blogcast
The costumes seen in Mare of Easttown are rightfully gaining a lot of praise for their authenticity and loyalty to the genuine natures of small-town Pennsylvania. While these costumes are nominated within the Outstanding Contemporary Costumes, they still have the transportive energy of any period or fantasy costume. Any lover of costume and fashion would see the dedication and thought costume designer Meghan Kasperlik put into each costume. It was evident Meghan took many traits of these characters into consideration, such as who these characters are, their jobs, and their roles in this town each day.
“It was very important that all of the costumes really looked authentic, and that they looked lived in, and that maybe this person picked it off the floor and smelled it and thought, “Oh, it’s fine today, I can wear it one more time!” Meghan continues to say, “This specific show was really meant to be, who are these characters, what happens in a day to these people, and they don’t change their clothes. It was really about how lived in we can make these characters.”
Meghan Kasperlik – The Art of Costume Blogcast
Part of Meghan Kasperlik’s research process included visiting a Wawa, a convenience store and gas station commonly located along the East Coast of the United States. She observed locals and noted what they were wearing, what they brought with them, what they bought, and how they bought it.
Then, of course, it came down to the ultimate task, costuming the main character of the series, Mare Sheehan. The brilliant Kate Winslet played Mare. One might ask, how can you go about transforming one of the most famous, well-loved actresses on the planet, known for their beauty and charismatic energy. Fortunately for Meghan, Kate was all in when it came to the transformation, accepting the wig, laying in eyebrows, and of course, Mare’s wardrobe.
Everything about Mare’s wardrobe was intentional, from the muted colors to the layers of clothes Mare hid under. It was imperative to Meghan that Mare’s wardrobe portrayed “a woman who would maybe buy new clothes when she felt it was necessary, but otherwise it would be a jeans and a t-shirt situation.” Mare often wore a Filson jacket, which Meghan referred to as Mare’s “suit of armor.” Adamant that Mare would never be seen with a handbag, Meghan designed Mare’s wardrobe to be about layering.
The attention to detail by Meghan Kasperlik and her crew was beyond impressive. I loved the color palettes, aging and dying, the layering, and of course, the use of graphic tees and local band t-shirts. We talked about the authenticity of the costuming, designing Mare’s wardrobe, and the costumes for some of our favorite characters such as Detective Colin Zabel, Siobhan Sheehan, and of course Helen Fahey, played by Jean Smart! What is not to love? I could talk about Meghan Kasperlik and costuming Easttown forever, but why listen to me when you could just hear from the designer herself? Fortunately, Meghan joined me on a special bonus episode of The Art of Costume Blogcast.
For the full interview with Mare of Easttown costume designer Meghan Kasperlik –Listen below or head to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you like to listen!
In the interview, Spencer asked Analucia why she thought costume design was necessary. In response, Analucia talked about why she felt the role of the costume designer is so valuable and should be recognized.
“Costume design is storytelling. A lot of actors and directors talk about not really seeing the story or the character until they see the actor in their full wardrobe, hair, and makeup. We are the ones who help create that space. It’s not just words. It’s not just emotion. It’s not just lighting or camera work… it’s how the person looks in the environment. What we do is important, and we should be valued as artists..”
Costumes in the Heroes Section of the MoPOP’s newest exhibition, Heroes and Villains: The Art of the Disney Costume
I am beyond excited to share with you all an exciting new exhibition of fabulous costuming to visit this summer! Previously, only Disney’s D23 Expo attendees were given a chance to see the Heroes & Villains: The Art of the Disney Costume exhibition. Now, you too have an opportunity to immerse yourself in this brilliant collection of more than 70 original pieces spanning more than 6,000 square feet of museum space!
In Seattle, Washington, The Museum of Pop Culture, in collaboration with the Walt Disney Archives, is currently hosting the new exhibition, Heroes & Villains: The Art of the Disney Costume, open now to the public until April 17, 2022.
I was granted the opportunity to visit the exhibition this month, and I was absolutely thrilled. The exhibition walks you through a magical world of costumes, highlighting some costumes seen on some of our most favorite heroes, and villains too! Some pieces you will see are fresher in memory, such as pieces from 2019’s Dumbo, designed by Colleen Atwood. Other costumes are a brilliant blast from the past, such as the oldest costume on display, Mary Poppins’ traveling dress designed by Bill Thomas and worn by Julie Andrews in the 1964 film. Stepping up to each platform was a real thrill as there was no telling which costume you would encounter next.
“Costuming is an essential element of storytelling, and Heroes & Villains exemplifies the richness of character we hope our films portray. It has been thrilling to collaborate with MoPOP’s curators to bring a selection of the stunning pieces we have at the Walt Disney Archives to Seattle.”
Becky Cline, director of the Walt Disney Archives.
Some of the first costumes you meet upon entry that instantly took my breath away belonged to Brandy and Whitney Houston. That’s right, we are talking about costumes from the film Cinderella, with costumes designed by Ellen Mirojnick. I mean, what a moment! We all know and love the costumes, but there is something magical about seeing Whitney Houston’s Fairy Godmother dress in person!
As I made my way through the exhibit, I was stunned to come face to face with The Sanderson Sisters. Well, not flesh and blood, but their costumes were there for all to see! The three witches’ dresses from Hocus Pocus (1993) worn by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy — all designed by Mary Vogt — plus the vacuum! This, to me, is worth the price of admission alone!
I was extremely pleased to come into contact with one of my all-time favorite costumes—the legendary Queen Narissa dress from Enchanted worn by Susan Sarandon, designed by my friend, Mona May. Honestly, I felt a bit emotional once I realized this dress was here. Somebody, please pinch me! There is SO much detail in this piece; I am not sure I can explain the beauty – you must see it for yourself. The colors and dragon scale textures are a sight to behold.
Look, I don’t want to give away all the surprises, but as a community, we have been talking a lot about the brilliant costumes of 2021’s Cruella, designed by Jenny Beavan. So I was blown away when I realized that costumes worn by THE Glenn Close in 101 Dalmatians and 102 Dalmatians were there! If you are sharing in the Cruella de Vil love right now, then you are going to be excited to see multiple costumes of past Cruellas.
As much as I would love to talk about every single costume (you know I would) with you all, part of the magic of this exhibit is rediscovering some of your favorite Disney costumes you have come to love over the years. Every color, textile, and sketch filled me with such joy and loving memories that only can be tapped by the power of Disney. So please, lovers of costume and Disney, take me up on this advice and run, don’t walk to the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, Washington, to see Heroes & Villains: The Art of the Disney Costume exhibition.