1200px-Ruth_E._Carter_by_Gage_SkidmoreBy Erin Caine

Lifestyle Editor

It’s no simple task stitching together a compelling story for the screen.

Though its an underappreciated part of filmmaking, costuming plays an essential role as something that helps inform the audience about everything from a character’s personality to the hidden meaning of a scene.

The Costume Designers Guild recently announced their 2019 nominees for their annual awards ceremony, which includes “A Star Is Born,” “Aquaman,” and several other fan-favorite flicks from last year.

The CDG also recognizes memorable costume designs from television, commercials, and music videos—the latter two combined into a “short form” category.

Many are hopeful that Ruth E. Carter’s extensively researched work on the smash hit “Black Panther” will take home the prize for the “Excellence in Sci-Fi/Fantasy Film” category.

For her detailed and distinct Afrofuturistic designs, Carter drew inspiration from a number of different real-life cultures throughout Africa. Angela Bassett’s character, for instance, wears a crown with a cylindrical shape based on traditional Zulu headwear.

For the added futuristic element, Carter teamed up with Julia Koerner, who specializes in 3D-printed wearable art, to create intricate patterns.

In an interview with the New York Times, Carter explained that the raised-triangle motif on the eponymous hero’s suit represents “the sacred geometry of Africa.”

“It makes him not only a superhero, but a king,” she said, “an African king.”

The detail, though small, is a key symbol of T’Challa’s narrative arc: returning to his birthplace and proving his worth as Wakanda’s new leader.

Another standout film from the 2019 nominee list, in the “Period Film” category, is “The Favourite,” which centers on Queen Anne’s turbulent reign in 18th century Britain.

The striking monochromatic outfits were designed by Sandy Powell, a three-time Oscar winner.

Perhaps the most memorable outfits of the film are those donned by Rachel Weisz’s character, who frequently appears in sporting clothes or riding gear.

According to Vulture’s Jordan Crucchiola, Powell said that her intention “wasn’t really to make [Weisz] look like a man or to make her look masculine. It was just freedom of movement, and a kind of strong, bold look.”

As the queen’s chief advisor, the real-life historical figure Weisz portrayed, Sarah Churchill, was indeed in a position of incredible political power and social mobility.

History remembers Churchill as a “strong-willed woman” who got into several high-profile disagreements throughout her lifetime.

What these films and others of last year have proven is that costume design isn’t just about looking good; it’s about dressing for the part.

The Elm

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