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Best onscreen outfits from the 2017 Oscars

While Hollywood is still celebrating the Academy Awards, its biggest night of the year, we look at the movies that got everyone talking about costume design

Anastasia Kyle-Langley
Anastasia Kyle-Langley,

From 1939’s Gone with the Wind to The Great Gatsby in 2013, glamorous eras represented on screen have always resulted in major fashion trends. While Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them took the 2017 Academy Award for best costume design, styles from other nominees are likely to find their way into your wardrobe before long. Alongside La La Land, which dominated this year’s Oscars, two other films are set to have a big fashion influence in 2017: the dark and feral Nocturnal Animals, directed by Tom Ford, and Jackie, which saw Natalie Portman nominated for best actress.

Nocturnal Animals
While, disappointingly, this film wasn’t nominated for best costume design Oscar, it is the second successful collaboration between costume designer Arianne Phillips and director Tom Ford. Phillips was nominated for a BAFTA for her costume design on A Single Man, Ford’s directorial debut.

The minimalist costumes she selected for Nocturnal Animals extend the immortal coldness of the artworks surrounding Amy Adams’s Susan, an art dealer and the main character of the film. Supporting the high glamour of the piece, designer and director work beautifully in tandem: the key shots are framed as Ford would have shot his scandalous campaigns from the 2000s, featuring nudity and a hint of perversion. Although none of the film characters wear Tom Ford’s clothes, it’s hard to shake the designer’s presence from the scenes.

The crisp and revealing clothes Susan wears increase the tension in the story, until her world collapses, leaving her in a soft and sensual green dress for the final scenes. Remarkably, it’s her only coloured outfit throughout the film, which adds to the high note of the finale.

La La Land
‘You look so cute in your polyester suit,’ sings Emma Stone, winner of the 2017 Oscar for best actress, to Ryan Gosling in La La Land. The film’s 14 Oscar nominations this year are a record only equalled by All About Eve and Titanic. ‘It’s wool!’ replies the offended Gosling in the sing-off.

The yellow dress that the heroine wears in this scene was inspired by an Atelier Versace dress Emma Stone wore to a premiere in 2014. Mary Zophres, La La Land’s costume designer, focused on the square neckline, accentuated by wide-strapped sleeves and a shorter hem. This worked brilliantly – the descending darkness and blue sky emphasised the dancing couple and brought out the liveliness and energy as the duo fall in love.

The light-heartedness of the film’s plot extends to the costumes, which, like every detail of La La Land, seem just as apposite to the 1930s as to 2017. Three classic Hollywood themes, jazz, a budding film career and an ingénue, are the building blocks for the film’s costume designs. As a struggling actress, Mia, Emma Stone’s character, can’t wear flashy designer clothes, so Zophres had to create a wardrobe full of flattering but simple outfits.

Zophres revisited Hollywood benchmarks such as The Umbrellas of Cherbourg in the search for inspiration for her primary colour palette. However, despite the abundance of brights, Zophres admitted to Entertainment Tonight that her own favourite is a simpler style: the white dress that Stone wears against a Paris backdrop.

Jackie, the biopic about the life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, was not an easy task on any front; convincingly representing an icon is always difficult. However, this was not the first time that costume designer Madeline Fontaine had faced a similar challenge. Having worked on the costume design for the 2014 film Yves Saint Laurent, Fontaine had the knowledge and ability to replicate some of the most iconic fashions of the 20th century.

Fontaine’s key task was to reproduce some of the former First Lady’s best-documented outfits. While the main costumes numbered only 10, they needed to faithfully represent the originals created by major fashion houses from Dior to Chanel. Although relatively few costumes were required, production was spread between the US and Europe; many fabrics and buttons were sourced from the design houses themselves, and there was further assistance from other ateliers and rental houses.

Fontaine had to create five copies of the iconic pink Chanel suit Natalie Portman wears for the assassination scene – and all were used.



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