Pret-a-Reporter

Oscars: Where Costume Designers Found Classic 'Jackie' and Over-the-Top 'Florence Foster Jenkins' Clothes

7:00 AM 2/10/2017

by Booth Moore

From Burbank vintage stores to London haberdashers, there's a just-right source for every shoe, gown, bauble and bonnet as the five nominated wardrobe pros studied history and conjured fantasy in their creations.

Paramount Pictures/Photofest; Courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
  • 'La La Land'

    Mary Zophres

    Lionsgate

    To create the clothes for a retro-realistic Los Angeles, Zophres started in her own backyard. Director Damien Chazelle cut together a montage of romantic musicals and films for visual reference, including The Band Wagon (1953), Singin' in the Rain (1952) and Strictly Ballroom (1992). "I went to Vidiots [in Santa Monica] and started renting all the films and printed up freeze-frame images," says Zophres. For Ryan Gosling's character-defining two-tone dance shoes, she hit Worldtone dance store in L.A.'s Westwood. (The style is the Nueva Epoca Buenos Aires.) "Ryan loved them, and they are so right for [Sebastian]." Emma Stone, as Mia, had a matching pair. Zophres designed everything Stone dances in from scratch. "She has such a graceful line, and that influenced the silhouette," she says. "The yellow dress even has matching underwear." For Mia's daytime clothes, "we didn't want them to be so high-end that it didn't look like she'd buy them as a struggling actress." Zophres shopped at her favorite local store, Playclothes Vintage in Burbank, for pieces, including a pink A-line skirt she paired with a $5 H&M top. The navy halter dress Stone wears at the end is by designer Jason Wu, whose gowns Michelle Obama wore to both of her husband's inaugural balls.

  • 'Allied'

    Johanna Johnson

    Paramount Pictures

    To create the glamorous look of this 1940s wartime drama, Johnson took cues from the wardrobes of Barbara Stanwyck, Katharine Hepburn, Gary Cooper and other icons. For Brad Pitt's elegant suits and brogues, she hired tailor Michael Sloan (Lincoln and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) and sought out London suppliers, including Mackintosh and century-old English shoemakers Crockett & Jones. For the crowd scenes, including one set in the stylish Rivoli nightclub, Johnson looked to vintage purveyors, including a favorite resource of hers, the Portobello Road Market. For Marion Cotillard's character, Johnson was inspired by such old-fashioned, high-style films as Casablanca and Now, Voyager.

  • 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them'

    Colleen Atwood

    Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

    With her 12th Oscar nomination, Atwood — who has three wins, for ChicagoMemoirs of a Geisha and Alice in Wonderland — ties Sandy Powell as one of the most honored in the craft (however, they both trail grand dame Edith Head, who is untouchable with 35 noms). Atwood built 1,000 costumes for this Harry Potter spinoff and rented an additional 3,000 to create the 1920s fantasy world of the film. Her research spanned the decades, starting at the Museum of the City of New York — with Berenice Abbott's black-and-white photographs that capture "the character and spirit of the street," she says — and reaching back as far as the Salem witch trials, which influenced the "severe plainclothes," Puritanical collars and bonnets of the film's crusading New Salemers. As Newt Scamander, Eddie Redmayne wore a signature tailcoat dyed petrol blue "to pull him in with his magical creatures but set him apart from the New York streets." For the embroidered gown and turban worn by President Seraphina Picquery (Carmen Ejogo) and spunky beaded flapper dress worn by Porpetina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), Atwood looked to the art deco period for inspiration. Other resources? The Helen Larson collection at L.A.'s Western Costume and Tirelli Costumi in Rome.

  • 'Jackie'

    Madeline Fontaine

    Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

    To tell the story of a bereaved Jacqueline Kennedy's determination to bring prestige and grace to the presidency, the White House and the nation, Fontaine meticulously re-created the first lady's influential 1960s looks. The most iconic piece, the blood-spattered pink suit worn on the day of her husband's 1963 assassination, has been preserved in the National Archives at the family's request, though "we were not able to see the original — no one is," says Fontaine, who instead consulted historical photos and TV footage. "For the suit, we hand-dyed the fabric until we found the right pink for the camera, and then we made five [versions]. Chanel gave us the buttons, the chain for the inside of the jacket (a couture detail to weight the hem) and a Chanel label in case the jacket fell on the floor." The red dress the first lady wore for the 1962 TV special, during which she leads CBS correspondent Charles Collingwood on a tour of the White House, originally was from Dior. "We found the fabric and determined the right color using camera tests," says Fontaine. "We even had to make a pink version for the black-and-white shots to match the footage of the White House tour because the red one was too dark."

  • 'Florence Foster Jenkins'

    Consolata Boyle

    Paramount Pictures/Photofest

    There was no shortage of primary source material for Boyle to draw on when researching Jenkins, the titular real-life 1940s socialite (and world's worst opera singer) played by Meryl Streep. "[Jenkins] loved to get her picture taken," says the costume designer, who consulted the Library of Congress, The New York Times archives and society magazine coverage of ladies clubs. Boyle dyed, inspected and rejected fabric swatches dozens of times to settle on the film's saturated pastel palette, setting the tone for "a childlike quality and unreality." She made all of Streep's over-the-top looks (worn with generous padding to plump up her figure), sourcing fabric and trimmings from the U.S. and Europe. "Everything was over-decorated and busy, with lots of moving parts, flower corsages and feathers," says Boyle. For Streep's headpieces, angel wings and other performance props, including the starry "Queen of the Night" tiara, Boyle's go-to was London-based Robert Allsopp, who has worked on everything from Gladiator to X-Men.

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