Award Winning Costumes That Brought Films To Life

There’s so much that goes into making a memorable, eye-catching film, including what the actors are wearing on screen. It’s up to costume designers to create looks that will truly bring the stories to life, whether that means creating designs that look otherworldly or crafting the perfect period pieces that are accurate to the time the movie was set in.

These award-winning costumes are deeply unforgettable, to audiences and the actors who wore them alike. After seeing these costumes, there’s no doubt that the designers behind them deserve to be recognized. What would our favorite movies be without them?

The Great Gatsby Costumes Were Gorgeous

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In 2014, costume designer Catherine Martin won an Oscar for her work in The Great Gatsby, and the movie was a total family affair since her husband, Baz Luhrmann, just so happened to be the director. In order to bring F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic story to life, Martin designed some of the costumes herself from scratch, while others were altered versions of Prada dresses. “I had a workshop of about 90 people,” she told Entertainment Weekly. “I designed and had made all of the principal women’s costumes within that workshop, and a lot of the incidental male costumes.”

Alice In Wonderland‘s Costumes Gave A Different View Of Wonderland

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In 2011, it was Alice In Wonderland‘s turn to score an Oscar for costumes, thanks to the talent behind the movie: Colleen Atwood. Originally, Tim Burton created the concept art for the movie, including drawings of costumes, and then it was up to Atwood to make his visions a reality. Fortunately, she was able to accomplish what Burton dreamed up, giving the classic Disney movie a darker, fresh twist. She had a unique challenge when they decided that Alice’s dress wouldn’t shrink with her, leaving her to imagine how Alice would keep it on her body in Wonderland. We’d say she did pretty well, huh?

Marie Antoinette Was Pure Fun

Marie Antoinette Was Pure Fun

It’s never easy to bring a historical figure to life, but Sofia Coppola’s take on Marie Antoinette gave us a look at a very human, very relatable side of the queen — and the movie’s gorgeous and colorful costumes made it unforgettable. Milena Canonero is the mastermind behind the movie’s wardrobe, and since she’d worked on movies in the same time period before, she reused some of those while still trying to bring a more modern twist to highlight the fact that Marie Antoinette was a true teenager — and that went incredibly well with the modern music that was also used in the movie’s soundtrack.

Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them Delved Back Into The Wizarding World

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Fans thought the world of Harry Potter was gone from the big screen forever, until J.K. Rowling’s companion piece to the series, Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them, was adapted into a movie with some of the most impressive costumes ever. Costume designer Colleen Atwood won an Oscar for this one — and yep, this is the same Colleen Atwood who also happened to win the same award for Alice in Wonderland. Atwood said the trick to bringing Newt Scamander to life was adding wizardly touches to period clothing that would be accurate to the time the movie was set in. Seems like she definitely pulled that goal off.

The Duchess‘ Costumes Were Simply Breathtaking

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In this Keira Knightley flick about — you guessed it — a duchess in the 18th century when she marries the Duke of Devonshire, costume designer Michael O’Connor wanted the gowns that Knightley wore to reflect the time period while also saying something about her character, Georgiana. He drew from the Georgian period but also separated her wardrobe by the phases of her life and what she was feeling during those times, describing her as a woman who knew she was on display so of course, she would dress like people were watching her every move. In the end, it helped create a movie that felt fully complete and cohesive.

La La Land Was So Easy To Fall In Love With

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So many people fell in love with La La Land the first time they saw it, and just by looking at the costumes for the movie, it’s easy to see why it won a Costume Designer’s Guild award. Since designer Mary Zophres wanted the movie to have a retro feel while also remaining rooted in the present day, she researched musicals and fashion from all different time periods and worked closely with the production designer and the set director to make sure they were all on the same page about the way the movie would look. Considering the fact that Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone both look stunning in the movie, we’d say it was a job well done.

Skyfall Was Dripping With Class

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This James Bond movie is known for so much more than just the Adele theme song of the same name. For example, the costumes, which scored a CDG award of their own. In a 2012 interview with Vogue, a costume designer Janey Tamime talked about dressing Bond girl Severine (played by Berenice Marlohe) in her very complicated, very expensive gown, which features 60,000 Swarovski crystals. “We had to make six different versions of the body, so that Berenice could change twice a day during filming. Each time she changed we had to sew the body onto the main part of the dress while she was wearing it — it was so delicate,” she said.

Black Swan‘s Costumes Were Unforgettable

Black Swan‘s Costumes Were Unforgettable

When talking to Clothes On Film, the designer for Black Swan, Amy Westcott, revealed she had to do with a bit of controversy when Rodarte tried to take credit for the work she’d put into the film — even though they did partially contribute to the designs for the movie. However, it sounds like Amy is still proud of the work that earned her a CDG award of her own… and that work was complicated at times, since she needed to make sure the ballet costumes were rooted in the real world of dance. “It was important to keep the film grounded in reality so the fantasy aspect could be accepted. Keep its feet on the ground, so to speak,” she said.

Blades of Glory Was Hilarious Thanks To The Costumes

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The movies that have been honored for costume design aren’t just limited to dramas, fantasy films, and period pieces — some of them are straight up comedies like Blades of Glory, which won a CDG for its wardrobe. Designer Julie Weiss said in 2011 that designing for a movie like this one was “what you beg for as a costume designer.” Of course, making the wardrobe just right for Blades of Glory demanded tons of hot glue… and relying on stars like Jon Heder, Amy Poehler, and Will Ferrell to make the costumes their own so they help bring their characters to life. All in all, it sounds like this movie was a blast to work on, and the work definitely paid off.

Slumdog Millionaire Swept Up So Many Awards

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When Slumdog Millionaire hit theaters in 2008, it was all anyone could talk about, and the award show buzz was unreal, including where costumes were concerned. According to designer Suttirat Lalarb, everything worn in the movie was made from scratch, and she spent days visiting shop after shop in India to make sure she could find exactly what she needed to make her visions come to life. “I know it’s irresponsible to turn down work, but, after Slumdog, I haven’t found many movies that could be, on every level, so fulfilling. At this point, I just can’t see myself dressing up a bunch of sorority girls,” she told The Daily Beast.

Hidden Figures Was An Awesome Slice Of The ’60s

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Hidden Figures is another period piece, but this time, that period was a whole lot closer to present day than some of the other award-winning movies. Bringing the true story of Katherine Goble’s work at NASA to life, costume designer Renee Erlich Kalfus was presented with a unique challenge in that the real Katherine sewed all her own clothes to fit NASA’s dress code — something that Taraji P. Henson loved. “She was restricted in her clothes, she was in heels, she was in stockings — in the whole thing — and she did [the running scenes]. That was one of the real tensions and she didn’t really want anything to help with that discomfort. She really wanted to feel it. That was a combination of Taraji wanting to do it real and we just didn’t make any [costume] allowances for it,” Renee said in an interview with Fashionista.

Into The Woods Had A Fairytale Twist

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In Disney’s big screen version of the musical that puts several fairy tale characters together in the same universe, costume designer Colleen Atwood found herself yet another success. Into The Woods won a CDG award and scored an Oscar nomination for Atwood’s designs — no surprise there — and she said that the textures and colors of nature had a lot to do with the way she designed the movie’s wardrobe. She had to adjust Cinderella’s dress to fit this version of the princess, and she had to dress the legendary Meryl Streep as The Witch, which Atwood called “a great collaborative process.” We’ll say!

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Had Costumes With Special Effects

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The Hunger Games movies all come with incredible, memorable costumes, but Catching Fire was such a big one that it’s no wonder it was also the installment of the series that swept up that CDG award. After all, Katniss’ dress in the parade of all the districts is what established her in the books and the movies as The Girl On Fire, which was such a huge moment for her character. Costume designer Trish Summerville, who also won for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, hit it out of the park once again with this one. Who wouldn’t want Katniss’ gorgeous District 12 gown?

The Dark Knight Made The Joker So Real

The Dark Knight Made The Joker So Real

No one will ever forget Heath Ledger as The Joker, and so much of that had to do with the way his character was imagined and dressed in The Dark Knight. Costume designer Lindy Hemming took the Joker’s personality and his possible backstory into account when she put this look together. “Whatever it is that’s wrong with him — made him be like this — means he doesn’t care about himself at all, really,” she told Empire. “He’s very sweaty and he probably doesn’t have a proper home. We were trying to make him sort of a… I don’t want to say, vagrant… But a back-story for him that he really doesn’t look after himself.”

The Grand Budapest Hotel‘s Costumes Were Unreal

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Considering all of the critical acclaim and attention The Grand Budapest Hotel swept up when it was released in 2014, is anyone actually surprised that it won both the CDG award and the Oscar for Best Costume Design? According to designer Milena Canonero, coming up with just the right looks required drawing from all kinds of different research and inspiration, including going back to the time period of the 1920s. “One also is stimulated by looking not only at the real people of that time but also at other images and literature that are unrelated to the period and the setting of the story. The look of each actor has to have its raison d’être,” Canonero told Vanity Fair.

Anna Karenina Gave An Old Classic New Life

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The retelling of the classic story, Anna Karenina, was another movie that won both a CDG and an Oscar in the year of its release. Designer Jacqueline Durran combined fashion from a few different eras to create the gorgeous looks seen in the movie (especially where Keira Knightley, who played the title role, is concerned). “The ’50s combined stark architectural elements with a point of elegance and that feeds into Anna — she’s kind of the essence of those two things,” Durran explained in a 2012 interview with Fashionista. And it wasn’t just Knightley whose look was breathtaking — it was everyone in the entire film.

Mad Max: Fury Road Totally Deserved The Win

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When costume designer Jenny Beaven took the Oscars stage to receive her award for Mad Max: Fury Road, no one clapped for her because they thought she was underdressed for the ceremony. But when it came to the CDG awards, Beaven told The Hollywood Reporter her reception was totally different. “I think what they were pleased about was that Mad Max was so different from what is perceived as my normal body of work [on period films]. And it is. This is why I was so thrilled to get this recognition, because I had done a breakout at this point in my career and in a way it was something I had always wanted to do. What a brilliant project to do it on,” she said.

The Artist Impressed Even In Black & White

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Mark Bridges is the costume designer behind The Artist, a movie that not only swept the 2011 awards season but also scored the Oscar for its costumes that year. Working on a film shot in black and white definitely brought its own challenges, but obviously, Bridges killed it. And in order to make the costumes accurate to the silent film era, a lot of research was involved. “I watched as many silent films that I could. I wanted to see how clothes were worn, the hemline lengths and accessories and observe the subtle changes in fashion from year to year,” Bridges said in an interview with Clothes On Film.

Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 Was The Best Costuming Of The Entire Series

Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 Was The Best Costuming Of The Entire Series

Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them wasn’t the first movie in the Harry Potter franchise to earn a nod for costume design. Nope, that honor goes to Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 2 and designer Jany Temime, who also designed for most of the franchise’s movies. While talking to Hello Giggles in June 2017, Jany actually admitted that her favorite costume she designed for the series was actually Professor Snape’s… and she loved it so much that when she took over design responsibilities starting with Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban, she decided she didn’t want to change a thing about it.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo Wowed Everyone

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According to Trish Summerville, the costume designer behind The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, dressing the actors for this movie was quite a challenge, especially when it came to the ’60s flashbacks — and making sure that the main character, Lisbeth Salander (played by Rooney Mara) had her own personal punk style accurately captured. That meant using some vintage clothing, and a little bit of making new clothes look old and worn. “It was important for all her clothing to seem very authentic, nothing brand new. Like she could disappear into the shadows and didn’t call attention to herself,” Summerville said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.