Film Costuming for the Oscars 001: The Artist

I'm basically obsessed with film costumes. I cannot go to the pictures any more without becoming so distracted by what the characters are wearing that I forget to pay attention to the story (no, really!). Keeping track of the actual movie becomes exponentially harder for me in any film that features hand knits (almost every movie now), high-end fashions (think, Sex & The City), or couture work (frequently seen in sci-fi films and period pieces). My love for this type of clothing manifests itself in my own work through pieces like Lady Sybil and my Sexy Jumpsuit.

 Lady Sybil, inspired by Downton Abbey

Sexy Jumpsuit, created for Vogue's Magic of Mohair contest

Next year, I plan to do more work like this, with the intention of moving into full-time couture work sometime in the next couple of years. It's long been a dream of mine to be able to work in film costuming, and even though that dream is somewhat of a long shot, I thought I would start by educating myself about the costumes Hollywood loves. Enter this new blog series, which I'm going to title "Film Costuming for the Oscars". See, I've decided to make it my goal to watch every movie nominated for an Academy Award in Best Costuming in the last ten years. I thought I would go in reverse chronological order, which means that up first is 2011's Academy Award Winner for Best Costuming (along with a whole bunch of other things, including Best Picture), The Artist. If you have Netflix, it's currently available to watch that way, at least for now. While I don't intend this column to be a movie review, I will say that I found this movie fairly interesting, from an artistic point of view. Filming a silent movie in black and white (okay, it was actually filmed in color and then translated into black & white later on) in the 21st century? That takes gumption.

Okay, on to the good stuff!


Film: The Artist

Costume Director: Mark Bridges.

Of Note:
  • This film was costumed in just eight weeks - fairly typical timing for a Hollywood production.
  • Many of Peppy's costumes were newly sewn from vintage dresses used as patterns.
  • George's costumes were a mix of newly made and altered, existing suits.
  • Extras were clothed in authentic vintage pieces that contained wear or damage typically found in antique garments.
  • The coat that Peppy dances with in George's dressing room was altered for the scene; a large gusset was added under the arm to accommodate for Peppy's movements.
  • Although the final film was black and white, some of the costumes were made in colors because of the variation of greyscale on screen.
  • LeLuxe Clothing, which provided a few of Peppy's costumes for this film, will also be providing some costumes for the upcoming The Great Gatsby (and if that film doesn't take the Oscar for Best Costuming next year, I'll eat one of Peppy's hats).

Additional reading: From Sketch to Still: Lush Costumes and Art-Deco Set of The Artist (Vanity Fair); Interview with Mark Bridges (Clothes on Film); Movies: The 20's Roaring Again (LA Times)

Favorites From the Film:

This appears to be silk chiffon (my alltime favorite). It is simplicity in itself, but I love the shape and movement of it!
 This piece was purchased from an online retailer (which means you can buy your own) and modified by Mark for the film. I love the idea of modifying existing garments, and have been doing a lot of that myself this year.

 This was onscreen for mere seconds, but was too fantastic not to mention. Look at that SKIRT! Look at the BEADING!


 The millinery in this film was incredible. I felt like I was pausing the screen every 3 minutes to stare at another gorgeous hat!

This coat caught my eye. The detail on the back is particularly creative!

It's worth mentioning that the men's costumes in this film were just as outstanding as the women's, and there were a LOT of men to costume.

Another great headpiece! Also, I'm thinking of cutting my hair like this.

Looking for the winners of Hunter Hammersen's giveaway? Random.org tells me that the winner of The Knitter's Curiosity Cabinet is IrishSapphire, and the winner of Rabble Rousers is schwip! Congrats, you two! You have until December 8th to email me (sarah AT sexyknitter.com) or send me a Ravelry message (TheSexyKnitter) to claim your prize. If I haven't heard from you by then, I'll have to draw a new winner!

Picks of the Day:

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  1. Lovely! And best of luck achieving your dreams. Couture knitwear sounds like the right thing to inject "new" life into the knitting industry.

  2. Awesome! Make sure to read up on the hand-knitter currently on staff for the Hobbit—apparently, there's a lot of hand-knitting in that movie!

  3. This is a great idea for a blog series! As a lover of movies (lived in LA for 5 years -- it's pretty much required :) ), fashion, and particularly the Oscars, I loved this post and am very excited to read/ see more! And I can think of no one better than you to pursue a career in couture knitwear and film costuming -- you can totally do it!