Since we have just passed the craziness of the Oscars and I am currently taking a Film class, I thought that it would be fun to talk about costumes, and some of my favourite movies for costumes.
This is nowhere near close to a complete list of fantastic costume designers, since there are so many that I missed or did not include either because they didn't fit properly into a category or because they have had so much coverage already.
So lets talk movies!
10) Musicals - Monte Carlo
My first category is musicals. I have never been a huge fan of musicals, but some of them have pretty incredible costumes. West Side Story has some of the prettiest 1950's prom style dresses, My Fair Lady has the iconic black and white dress with the massive white hat (this is one of my favourite musicals, and the first one that I saw), and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes has that fabulous, strapless pink gown for Marilyn Monroe, and the matching sparkly red dresses for Marilyn and Jane Russell. Grease is pretty hard to forget, although I never fully agreed with Sandy completely changing her style to be with Danny (whats wrong with a cute pink cardigan and an A-line skirt?). And I could never forget The Sound of Music's curtain play outfits or Liesl's pink dancing dress. Colleen Atwood designed some fabulous costumes for Sweeney Todd, all done in a very specific colour scheme.
Despite all of these amazing films, I chose Monte Carlo by Ernst Lubitsch for my favourite costumes in a Musical. The film, which was made in 1930, stars Jeanette MacDonald and Jack Buchanan. It's a fun little story about a bankrupt Countess who is looking for a rich husband, but falls in love with her hairdresser. Little does she know that her hairdresser is actually a Count. The costumes were all designed by Travis Banton, and they show the best of Hollywood fashion in the 1930s. Jeanette McDonald's costumes are fun and feminine, with layers of tulle and fur and every other luxurious trimming that could be used in the era. She also wears some lovely negligees and even a pair of lounge pants. In addition, this film is not very well known, which is why I chose it for this category.
9) Contemporary Films - Crazy Rich Asians
This category is less about actually designing the clothes and more about choosing them, but that doesn't make it any less important. I considered the cute, vintage styled outfits in The F Word (also known as What If), or To All the Boys I've Loved Before. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days has the stunning yellow evening dress that she wore near the end, and Cameron Diaz has some pretty fantastic outfits in The Holiday. We don't take Rom Coms very seriously, but they put as much effort into choosing the wardrobe as any other movie.
I had almost no choice but to say that Crazy Rich Asians has the best current wardrobe in a Rom Com. Mary E. Vogt did an incredible job finding gowns that walk the fine line between gorgeous and ridiculous, exactly as I imagined them to be in the book. Obviously Constance Wu's Marchesa dress that she wore to the wedding was incredible, but I especially loved Gemma Chan's elegant wardrobe throughout the film.
8) Classics - The Big Sleep
The obvious choice for best costumes in a Classic would be pretty much anything that Audrey Hepburn has starred in or something that has Edith Head as the costume designer. Audrey Hepburn was costumed almost entirely by Givenchy, and Edith Head was responsible for some of the most iconic looks in Old Hollywood, such as the gowns in White Christmas and Vertigo. Most of Marilyn Monroe's costumes are also unforgettable, and have left a lasting impression on fashion such as the white dress in Some Like it Hot.
To be honest, I am in love with nearly every costume in every Classic Hollywood film. The men's suits are always impeccable, the women's day outfits are elegant and strong, and their evening attire is always jaw-dropping.
The Big Sleep might be a bit of an unusual choice for this category, but it is not as well known as the other films that I've mentioned, and it has left just as lasting an impact. Released in 1946 with costumes designed by Leah Rhodes, this movie introduced the genre of film noir. Lauren Bacall is mysterious and cool throughout the movie in perfect suits and slinky evening dresses. The version of 1940's fashion that we see in our heads was practically invented by Leah Rhodes in this movie, and you can see how it has inspired thousands of high fashion collections ever since.
7) Sci Fi and Dystopian - Blade Runner
It was a bit difficult to find options for this because tons of dystopian movie costumes aren't supposed to be beautiful. The Hunger Games costumes were well thought out with 1930's, Great Depression era styled costumes for those living in the districts and couture, ridiculously over the top dresses for those living in the Capital. Divergent separates each Faction with clothing, and Ex Machina focuses on how important clothes are to Ava. Mortal Engines has a great steampunk look with a few references to The Matrix with leather jackets and thin sunglasses.
Blade Runner was an easy choice for this, with the 1940's film noir look. I like the costumes best in the 1982 Blade Runner, done by Charles Knode (the strong shoulders, dark eyes and lips, and hair styles are iconic), but the costumes worn by Ana de Armas in Blade Runner 2049 are fantastic as well.
6) Fantasy - The Fall
Fantasy is such a fun genre for costume design because absolutely everything can be used. No fabric is too crazy, no country or era of inspiration is too unrealistic, no headpiece is too big. Lord of the Rings is one of the best known fantasy films, and it obviously has some lovely pieces. However, some of my favourites are Mirror Mirror with it's bright colours and huge gowns, Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (not loved by all, but I will always remember the brilliant red dress in the first film and the military inspired pant outfit in the second), and the steampunk designs of Hugo. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has a fun, fabulous spin on the 1920's, and Big Fish gives a dreamlike quality to the film with the circus inspired looks.
If you have followed my blog for a while, you will probably know that The Fall, directed by Tarsem Singh, is one of my all time favourite movies. Every single thing about this movie is stunning and thought provoking. It helps that the costumes were designed by the amazing, wonderful, distinctive Eiko Ishioka. Her colour choices are bold and bright in this movie, which fits in perfectly with the locations. She is known for her sculptural designs, and we get a good helping of those throughout the film with her delicate hats and head pieces. If you are ever in the mood for a beautiful, wistful, bittersweet film, this is the one for you.
5) Foreign Films - In the Mood for Love
Some of the best costumes come from foreign films. I will never forget the time that I first saw Amelie with her iconic hair and retro dresses, or Hero with it's monochromatic look. The Curse of the Golden Flower is one of the best examples of historical Chinese dress, and Belle de Jour has stunning 1960's fashion. Breathless gives us the most iconic of French fashion, and it did not have a costume designer - the outfits worn by Jean Seberg were all her own clothes that she brought for filming. Generation War (Unsere Mütter, Unsere Väter) has some gorgeous 1940's fashion worn by Katharina Schüttler.
Once again, if you have read by blog for a length of time, you will have heard about In the Mood for Love, directed by Wong Kar-wai. So far I have made two dresses inspired by the ones that Maggie Cheung wears in the film, and I have brought the movie up on other occasions just to gush about how stunning it is. I'm even writing an essay about it for my film class. William Chang designed the cheongsam's that Maggie Cheung wears, all of them in stunning fabrics that both blend in and stand out in every scene. The saturated colours that she wears are right at home in the world that she lives in, probably because William Chang was also in charge of the set design.
4) Films set in the 20th Century - An Education
Anything set in the 20th century is right up my alley, and gives me most of the inspiration for the dresses that I make. It is impossible to forget the Green Dress from Atonement (designed by Jacqueline Durran, who also designed the dresses in Little Women, Anna Karenina, 2005 Pride and Prejudice, and Beauty and the Beast), or any of the quirky looks from Wes Anderson's movies. Some of my personal favourites are Cheerful Weather for the Wedding (the best of 1930's fashion), The Bookshop, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and The Great Gatsby.
Designers taking on 20th century can have a ton of fun because so much changed so quickly. Every 10 years there were new, majorly different trends that had popped up, and the later you get in the century the more options people had for style.
Women had much more freedom when it came to style in the 1960's, and one of my favourite examples of the era is An Education, directed by Lone Scherfig and costumes designed by Odile Dicks-Mireaux. The movie starts with innocent, schoolgirl fashion with plated plaid skirts and sweater sets, then moves on to expensive, high end fashion from the 1960's. Both Rosamund Pike and Carey Mulligan's costumes are to die for, with outfits that are a mix of elegant and extravagant.
3) Period Films - Bright Star
As can be expected, I absolutely love period films. I grew up on Jane Austen, and good period dramas are what have been getting me through midterms. This is no small genre- there are so many costume designers that specialize in period dramas. The Duchess and A Royal Affair are both excellent examples of 18th century fashion, and Marie Antoinette has a fun view of the same era. Gone with the Wind is still a popular period drama, and the curtain costume has been remade time and time again. Tulip Fever is a beautiful look at a unique era- the 1600's, which isn't shown nearly often enough. I also enjoyed the costumes in the newest version of Little Women, which ended up winning the Oscar for costume design this year!
My absolute favourite example of historical costumes is from Bright Star, directed by Jane Campion and costume design by Janet Patterson. The early 1800's are often stylized because it is an unusual look for the modern eye. I think that Janet Patterson took the most interesting, most unique and bizarre styles of the era and made them gorgeous even to the modern eye. Abbie Cornish got the best looks with her huge bonnets, pelisses (the long coat like she is wearing in the top photo) and spencers (a short jacket), and interesting evening gowns. It also helps that the character Abbie Cornish plays sews her own gowns.
2) Period a Bit to the Left - Anna Karenina
I didn't want to count these movies under Period Films because although they are all set in a historical era, the costume designers didn't intend for the costumes to be accurate to the time. A fantastic example of this is Moulin Rouge, with the 1800's/1900's flavoured ensembles with a twist. I also love Crimson Peak, with the natural form era gowns with morbid little details. The Sherlock Holmes movies by Guy Ritchie are a steampunk version of the bustle era.
My absolute favourite movie like this is Anna Karenina, directed by Joe Wright and costumes by Jacqueline Durran. Durran flawlessly mixed 1850's fashion with 1950's couture. I love the styles of both of these era's, and the end result is a theatrical, almost magical look. These costumes also work perfectly with how choreographed the movie is.
1) Films About Design - Phantom Thread
I couldn't help but include this as one last category. Films that focus on fashion or designers always have some of the best costumes in them, and I love seeing the things that I do on a daily basis up on the big screen. Some of the best movies about fashion are Coco Before Chanel, Oceans 8 (I loved the Zac Posen gown that Rihanna's character wore to the Met Gala), and The Devil Wears Prada.
My favourite movie that I have ever seen about a designer just has to be Phantom Thread, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and costumes by Mark Bridges. Not only does this movie do a great job at showing what designing, pattern drafting, and sewing actually looks like, it also has some pretty fabulous 1950's gowns.
What would you chose for each category? Do you have any recommendations?
I was lucky enough to get a message about collaborating from LAL Couture, a company that makes custom sized and handmade lingerie. It was very difficult to chose which sets I wanted (all of them are stunning, and have such a vintage vibe to them!), and I am so thrilled with the two that I picked.
The first set that I got is the Diane Pajama Set, and the second set is the Susan Lingerie Set
It was so exciting to get these in the mail, and they are so beautifully made! The materials that were used are high quality and feel amazing on the skin.
I also had so much fun getting photos of them, since they both have such a retro look to them.
As anyone who has been following my blog for a while will know, I absolutely love movies. I watch a ton of them while I work on my sewing, and they directly influence most of the things that I make (which is why most of my dresses are named after certain characters). I have been sewing non stop lately, which means that I have also been watching A Lot of movies. While there are a million more that I could talk about, I thought that I would share 6 movies that maybe didn't get as much attention as I thought that they should. This is a completely random array of movies, so they go from historical, to rom coms, to very dark and gritty.
Enjoy, and let me know if you have any movies that you would add to my list!
And if you prefer period dramas or costume movies, I have another post with those here
The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Based on a book by Emily M. Danforth, this movie is set in 1993 about a girl who is caught with the prom queen at prom. She's sent away to a 'treatment center' called Gods Promise that uses questionable gay conversion therapies.
I read this book a few months ago and finally got to watch the movie recently, and both were beautifully done. The cast and soundtrack are fantastic, and the subject is respectfully handled.
Starring Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan, this film is based off of a true story. Set in 1942 in Prague, it's about the 2 Czech soldiers who are sent back to their home country to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich. Heydrich is a high ranking Nazi officer who was the main architect of the Holocaust. This mission (which was called Operation Anthropoid) was the only government-sponsored assassination of a senior Nazi officer during the second world war. The history behind this movie is incredible and filled with courage, I would very much so recommend doing a little research on it.
The Red Riding Trilogy
These 3 films are set in 1974, 1980, and 1983 and follow a series of violent crimes in Yorkshire. The films are based off of the books by David Peace and allude to some real-life crimes, though the movies are not by any account documentaries.
These movies were surprisingly good (I hadn't heard much about them before watching them), but very dark, so I wouldn't recommend them for anyone who may be sensitive with these kind of themes. Plus, the costumes (especially in the 1974 one) are fantastic and very fun to watch.
However, if you liked the TV series Ripper Street or Broadchurch, you might like these movies since they have a similar feeling.
The Song of Sway Lake
The Song of Sway Lake is a recently released Indie film directed by Ari Gold. I have seen some mixed reviews about this one, but I absolutely loved it.
"After his father's suicide, a young record collector and his friend go to his family's lake house to claim a valuable jazz recording. While he is there, encounters with his estranged grandmother and a neighbor dredge up years of family suffering."
The cinematography is really beautiful in this one, and the soundtrack is so great- I've been listening to it while I work for the past few weeks since I watched it. The movie has a very nostalgic feeling to it that is just enhanced by the music. (Listen to one of the songs they recorder for it here)
The F Word/What If
If the other movies that I have recommended so far are a little depressing for you (I know, a lot of these are not for the faint of heart), this is my favourite Rom Com. Starring Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan, this movie is sweet and funny and quirky all at once. And yes, this one has a really great soundtrack too (anyone listen to Patrick Watson's music? Because they have a few of his songs in this film). This movie never fails to make me smile.
Please Stand By
For my last recommendation, here is another sweet movie. This is a coming of age movie starring Dakota Fanning about a girl with Autism. She escapes her caregiver to submit a 500 page script about Star Trek to a screenwriting competition.
I thought that Dakota Fanning did a fantastic job of portraying an Autistic person, and the end of the movie actually made me cry a few happy tears.
These are just a few of the movies that I've seen and enjoyed so far this summer. I also have found a couple really great TV shows that I thought I would bring up here as well.
Fortitude (murder mystery set in the Arctic Circle. So good but so creepy)
Love/Hate (Contemporary Irish mafia. You can watch this series on Youtube for free, since it's pretty hard to find anywhere else)
Derry Girls (This is a comedy on Netflix set during the 1990s in Northern Ireland)
Big Little Lies (this show is crazy popular, but since Season 2 just started I thought that I would bring it up. It's great, please watch it if you haven't already)
I am a Huge Fan of Wes Anderson. From the first time that I saw Grand Budapest Hotel, I was completely hooked. I enjoy his deadpan sense of humour, the pastel colours, retro vibes, and quirky cinematography. I started watching the movies when I was about 14, and they have hugely influenced the way I dress and my sense of humour. I am a lover of the colours mustard and dusty rose, and every time I see any piece of clothing in a store that could be worn in one of his movies, I am sold. That also means that I am the proud owner of three of his movies (my three favourites: Grand Budapest, Darjeeling Limited, and Moonrise Kingdom), the record of the Darjeeling Limited Soundtrack, and both of the coffee table books that are available through Indigo.
Because of this obsession (yes, I am aware that it is a slight obsession), I thought that a Moonrise Kingdom inspired photo shoot would be amazingly fun to set up. I was right! We gathered up my est retro props, drove into Calgary, and found an adorable green shop to get photos in front of. It was actually pretty freezing, but I loved all of the photos, so this post will be very long!
The dress is made out of a coral cotton with white top stitching. I started this dress almost a year ago, but with so many things happening in a pretty short amount of time, it got put to the side for a few months. It has been incredibly close to being complete for a few months now, with just the hem left to do! I finally finished the hem last week while watching (you guessed it!) a Wes Anderson film. We have been planning this photo shoot for months now, and it felt so good to get to do it!
Wes Anderson films are definitely my comfort movies. When I was in grade 10 and our house was broken into (something that was extremely upsetting to me, for some reason), I watched The Grand Budapest Hotel. At this point, I have seen every single one except for the first (Bottle Rocket). I love the quotes especially, and the reoccurring actors! It is so satisfying to know that Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman are going to be in the movie that you are about to watch. I am insanely excited for The French Dispatch to come out as well.
The area of Calgary where we got these photos is very close to Peters Drive In, and if you know the area, you will know that it is the best burger joint in the area. So, after getting all of the photos, we Had to pick up a burger. This was a fantastic way to spend a Sunday!
The props that I brought with me are from various sources- the beautiful vintage suitcase was a Christmas gift, and we got it from Iron Crow Antiques. The Nancy Drew novels are both original editions, and the camera was a gift from a friend quite a few years ago. I am very lucky to have all of these things just sitting around the house.
Are you a Wes Anderson fan as well? Which movie is your favourite?
I always find it interesting about who everyones favourite characters are as well, since so many people have such different reasons for their favourites!
Thank you for reading,
Edit: I caved and also bought the coffee table book for Isle of Dogs... expect to see more Wes Anderson inspired quirky things in the near future.
In my Looking Back at 2018 post, I talked a little bit about some things that I wanted to do in the new year. I thought that it would be fun for me to write about some of the things I want to do, and some of the things that I am excited for in 2019!
The goal that I mentioned in that post was finishing some of the projects that I started last year- the biggest of those being a few historical costumes! I have the posts written for them, and I have large chunks of each project done, I just lost the enthusiasm to actually finish it... I am hoping to finish off these ones this summer (I am giving myself some slack during school, since I drop most hobbies during the semester).
Another goal of mine is to read more! I have been reading a lot more recently, but I went through a bit of a hump last summer when I wasn't really interested in anything. I am hoping to keep up my fascination with everything this year and learn lots of new things and read lots of new books.
I also am hoping to take a few classes outside of my college courses. As much as I enjoy sewing, sometimes doing it all day every day can lead to a bit of a burn out. I have decided that learning something different might help break things up a bit, and I have never regret taking more classes before!
Other than my goals for the year, I also have a few things that I am getting very excited about that will be happening this year. The first (and most exciting for me) is that I am looking into going to Greece with a friend this summer! After going to Mexico and Germany in the past few years, I have definitely caught the travel bug, and there are so many places that I want to go. Greece has always been close to the top of my list, so I can't wait to cross it out.
I am also getting quite excited about my training goals. I started working out during the first semester, and it has helped me manage my stress. My goal is to get stronger (especially my very weak upper body), and I have had a friend help me out with this goal! I am very excited to see some progress, and it has been fun to be a Brand Ambassador for Just Strong as well, to help me keep determined.
The last thing that I am very excited for this year is how far I will get in my program through the college! I am currently taking a 2 year Costume Cutting and Construction major through Olds College, and by the end of the year I will be 3/4 of the way done! I can't believe how fast the first semester went, and how much I learned in such a short amount of time. I think this year will fly by.
My mom has always had a word of the year that she tries to follow throughout the year. I don't normally join her, but I decided to chose a word for the coming up year. After looking through the thesaurus for quite a while, I decided on the word Fortitude. I love that it sounds strong, but its more than that. It is about not giving up, keeping your determination.
Do you chose a word of the year? What is yours this year?
PS= The shirt I am wearing in these photos are from Just Strong, the company that I recently became a Brand Ambassador for! You can purchase anything off of the website with my code, FUNKKATH10 and get 10% off. I do get a small commission with purchases with my code, and that money will go toward my college. Thank you so much for your support!
Most of my vintage-styled outfits are me-made. While I love wearing clothing that I have made, and I enjoy trying out true vintage and repro patterns, I know that many people don't have the time, materials, or the interest to make their own clothing.
I love the idea of wearing true vintage, but I feel like I am too clumsy of a person to regularly wear vintage clothing. It would break my heart to stain and tear a vintage dress, so I stay mostly away from them. At the same time, I don't want to make every piece (especially knits and t-shirts). I know there are tons of fabulous repro brands in the world, such as What Katie Did, Stop Staring, Emmy Design, Mod Cloth, and many others. I haven't tried any repro brands, since many of them are from either the States or Britain, and with shipping costs I can't afford the pieces. I have discovered that you can find some really great things from stores in outlet malls, as long as you look hard enough.
Sometimes it can take a bit of searching, but so far I have found tons of vintage-inspired pieces that I have been able to add into my wardrobe. For the outfit that I am wearing in these photos, the dress is from Hot Topic (every once in a while, they get very cute 1950's styled clothes. This one is cotton, which I would recommend over poly satins and other fabrics that can look tacky instead of vintage. However, in the end it just depends on what you like the best!). The shoes are from Rockport. They have tons of vintage styled heels and sandals, and they are some of my most comfortable pairs! My purse is from Calvin Klein, and it is one of my favourite ones for summer. The cordigan is from the Gap. If you would prefer a shorter sweater, Aritzia and Lands End have some beautiful ones, or you can easily shorten a cardigan like this one using a serger or a zig zag stitch. Here is a great tutorial if you are interested.
The biggest thing about finding vintage styles in every day stores is patience! Sometimes I don't find anything for months, and other times there is vintage inspiration everywhere.
This is the first post that I have not worn anything that I have made- what do you think of a different type of post like this?
I would love to show some of my other vintage inspired on a budget finds, let me know if you want to see them in the comments!
These photos were taken in The Core in downtown Calgary.