Varieties of Costume Design in the Movies

The variety of costumes created for movies is a varied as the types of movies themselves. From science fiction to historical romance and everything in between, costume designers play an important role in creating the overall feel and experience of a movie.

In the most recent Oscars, the film “True Grit” was nominated for Best Picture. But for those interested in the field of costume design, it was the actors’ wardrobe that was the highlight of the movie. Designer Mary Zophres did a wonderful job recreating clothing that would have been worn in the American west more than 100 years ago.

To create successful costumes for an historical film, a designer must study the fashions of the given time period. For “True Grit,” Zophres understood that the costumes had to reflect the simplistic durability of the fashions of the time – simple lines, warm fabrics and comfortable cuts were important then, and were therefore important to the development of the film.

For contrast, compare the costumes in “True Grit” to those in the most recent adaptation of “Alice in Wonderland.” Here, fantastical designs rule the day. Costume designer Colleen Atwood bolstered the success of the film by dressing the stars, especially Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, in outrageous style fitting the fantasy film. One must believe that Atwood worked closely with the set designer for the costumes and sets to blend as beautifully as they did.

There is no limit to the creativity a costume designer can express in film throughout the course of his or her career.