The Biggest Influencers of the Pandemic May Not Be Who You Assume

When Ruth E. When Carter received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame last month, she became the first costume designer in more than 60 years to receive the honor. Anyone who had spent the final year stared at their screens, it seemed to be about time.

Not just because Ms. Carter became the first black costume designer to win an Oscar in 2019, when she took home the statue for “Black Panther”. Or because, for the sequel “2 coming to America, “She mastered nearly 800 different appearances, created a stunning pan-border style universe and showcased her own designs using not only her platform, but also to elevate the work of about 30 other designers for.

But because, as we have kept indoors, lively through story lines, consuming streaming services like water, the onscreen characters have taken on more and more importance. They have become companions, distraction, entertainers.

Role models for what else to wear.

As usual signs for dressing have faded into the distance – street life and office life; Peer groups and parties – The onscreen we’ve seen has gone to zero.

“You can’t go shopping at the store,” said Salvador Perez, president of the Costume Designers Guild and the man behind the clothes on “The Mindy Show” and “Never Have Ever I”. “Then you shop the screen.”

Why we were so thrilled with Beth Harmon’s 1960s silhouetteQueen’s throne“? 1980s Pie-Crust Collar and Power Suiting Princess Diana “in The Crown“? Coat’s Nicole Kidman’s Wardrobe in “The Undoing”? Ankara textile and royalty meet- “2 coming to America” ​​Puma’s clothes?

They became public conversation points the way street style and the red carpet once were. As we began to identify with the characters, their jobs and family situations, we also wanted to dress like them.

It makes sense. Clothes, after all, are simply costumes we play ourselves in everyday life.

And that meant that the costume designers behind them were suddenly being considered … as good, as impressive. Or fashion designer. This may have been true for extinction in the past, but rarely has it been so clear.

“When everyone was stuck at home, they really started paying attention to what was happening onscreen for the first time,” said Nancy Steiner, “the costume designer behind it”Promising young lady, “A film about sexual harassment and revenge in which Kerry Mulligan swings in pastels with a fresh-faced young woman in a (pretend) drunk suit and skint dress.

Certainly, Ms. Steiner said, she never received such attention in her 34-year career, despite working on popular films such as “The Virgin Suicides” and “Lost in Translation” this year.

So the question is, as the epidemic ends and we begin to emerge in the light, are the dress designers finally going to get the respect they deserve? Not only as the creative brains behind the characters in our favorite movies, but as the triggers for trends we really wear?

The problem, Arian Phillips said, is the costume designer behind “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and, thanks to his work with Madonna, a rare name beyond the studio, that costume designer rarely becomes a brand. As a result, she said, “they have not been accepted for their influence on culture.”

Once, this was not the case. Once in the late 1920s, Gilbert Adrian was considered a great American fashion designer, responsible for grooming Hollywood stars such as Rita Hayworth both onscreen and off.

Later, Edith Head, along with many others such as Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly and Barbara Stanwyck, took the role even further, touring the country at a “Hollywood fashion show”, writing books (including “Dress for Success”) Did, even designed a teenager. fashion line. She also made guest appearances on TV, recommending the dress to the eight million women attending the “House Party,” Art Linkletter’s CBS Afternoon Show, “written by Bronwyn Kosraway”made for each other,“A book about fashion and the Oscars.

So what happened?

It began when Hubert de Givenchy began Ms. Head’s relationship with Audrey Hepburn, and the official fashion world began creating opportunities in Hollywood. As the spotlight began to change according to him, Giorgio Armani set up his Los Angeles outpost, making the red carpet an extension of his runway, and things only got branded from there. Product placement deals and the allure of celebrity “ambassadors” were in the backdrop of costume designer, a freelance work-for-hire studios, until Calvin Klein teamed up with Gwyneth Paltrow for “Great Expectations”. .

There were, of course, exceptions, often associated with period pieces, when the ostensibly artistry of the clothing – which looked like nothing in store – broke through. For example names like Sandy Powell (“Shakespeare in Love,” “The Aviator”) and Jenny Bryant (“Mad Men”). And Ms. Carter.

Yet for the most part, the costumes exist in the shadow of the designer cinema they serve. And even when the fashion and film worlds were interwoven forever, and films provided the raw material that inspired the collection after collection, the designer came up with the name “Blade Runner 2049” as a name. Will examine, instead of Renee April, the costume designer who helped craft the dystopian fashion of that release. The public, in turn, became trained to ignore the person behind the clothes.

It reached a point when a costume designer occasionally worked with a runway designer, as Paolo Nieddu did with Prada on “The United States vs. Billy Holiday”, with Prada’s focus on the lion’s share Finished, although only nine of the many appear in the fashion house film, and each one of those nine was actually chosen by Mr. Niddoo.

It does not help that the Academy Awards remain stuck in period mode. Also this year, almost any film that shaped fashion interaction was (literally) nominated for Best Costume Design. Instead, the five nominees included “Mulan” (set in Imperial China), “Munk” (1930s and 40s) and “Ma Rainey Black Bottom” (1927). There is no question that the clothes in those films were bland, but they did not change what the public wanted to wear to get milk, or to wear on weekends. (This has given rise to renewed debate about whether a “contemporary” category should be created for the Oscars, so that the balance can be corrected.)

Given the associated brightness, studios have little incentive to share the spotlight. He works as a costume designer. So while movies are so influential that they promote retail collaboration (see the Banana Republic “Mad Men” collection), studios often cut costume designers – even if the result doesn’t work particularly well.

“They all want glory,” Ms. Carter said.

And yet, at a time when appropriation is a hot button theme in itself, the appropriation of the work of costume designers is largely ignored. (Where) Diet provider when you need it?)

To that end, Mr. Perez of the Costume Designers Guild is pushing his members to speak about their work on social media, claiming the credit they deserve and creating a power base and profile that Can proceed beyond their specific projects. There is also a marketing committee to help him.

“The public wants what we’re doing,” said Mr. Perez, who recently designed a “fantasy prom” for “Never Have Ever” that he hopes will set new trends as we celebrate. Emerging from the sidelines with a desire to persuade. “They just don’t fully know it.”

It is not that the costume design community wants to be a fashion designer. (“I personally am not interested in going on the fashion road”, said Ms. Carter, who has dubbed in collaboration with fast fashion brands, but said she is limiting them.) But they totally Want to be recognized for what they are: delicious. .

This famous monologue of “The Devil Wears Prada” of how Serelian became blue could easily come from the mouth of a costume designer. He certainly has more power than the editor of any magazine.

They are, after all, the creators of the work which, as Ms. Carter said, “always filters down.”

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