Who are you carrying? For costume designers, the reply could also be ‘me.’

Written by Anna Grace Lee

Last 12 months, their work transported audiences to Paris and to Graceland, to an underwater kingdom, to parallel dimensions with googly-eyed rocks and scorching canine fingers — and to the decadent depths of Twenties Hollywood.

Throughout their careers, the 5 nominees for this 12 months’s Oscar for costume design have dressed dozens of film stars and whole armies of extras, collectively selecting up eight Academy Awards alongside the way in which. So what occurs once they flip their professional eyes inward and turn into the principle characters for a night?

“There’s a decision that we have to make: whether or not we go outside to a big fashion designer,” mentioned Ruth E. Carter, talking from Los Angeles a couple of days earlier than the ceremony. “Or we say: We have the resources. We have the know-how. We have the ability to make beautiful fashions that we can actually adorn ourselves in and be comfortable in, and represent ourselves. So that’s what I’m doing. I’m representing myself.”

In 2019, Carter grew to become the primary Black designer to win the Oscar for costume design, taking residence the award for “Black Panther.” This 12 months, she is nominated for her work on the sequel, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” Carter mentioned she deliberate to put on two outfits Sunday night time, and that certainly one of her appears to be like — a white-toned gown with beadwork — was a tribute to Chadwick Boseman, the star of “Black Panther” who died from cancer in 2020.

“If I were to be thematic about who I am on the red carpet, I feel like I’m somebody real that represents Afro-future because of who I am,” she mentioned. To understand her imaginative and prescient, she enlisted cutters Tamara Cobus and Rory Cunningham. (In the movie world, a cutter makes patterns and cuts, matches and constructs clothes based mostly on a fancy dress designer’s sketches.)

Jenny Beavan — who received the Oscar final 12 months, for “Cruella” — and Mary Zophres went the same route with their Oscars outfits, working with trade associates and collaborators to deliver their very own visions to life, dressing themselves as they could gown a personality.

For Beavan, that meant utilizing her Oscars ensemble to pay homage to the title character of her movie, “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris,” and assuming an awards-season uniform of kinds. In the movie, Mrs. Harris is a London home cleaner whose ardour for a Dior gown takes her on a journey to Paris to purchase a designer robe of her personal. Beavan’s deliberate Oscars outfit, which she additionally wore to the BAFTAs and the Costume Designers Guild Awards, is “a homage to a cleaning lady” with a “nod to Dior,” she mentioned, and was made by a pal, cutter Tim Perkins. It incorporates a polka-dot pinafore and headband in addition to a feather duster, which she “thought would be a fun accessory, to go around sort of dusting people down.”

Zophres, who’s nominated for her work on “Babylon,” mentioned that she deliberate to put on a gown of her personal design, reduce by José Bello. “This way, you’re never going to be wearing something that someone else is going to be on the carpet in,” Zophres mentioned. She described her Oscars gown as a fuchsia pink, in a shade much like that of a two-piece swimsuit she wore to the nominees luncheon final month. “It’s a fun dress,” she mentioned, including that it was “danceable and energized.”

Shirley Kurata and Catherine Martin went in a special course with their Oscars appears to be like, ceding the reins to style designers.

In an e mail, Kurata mentioned she deliberate to put on customized Rodarte. In learning Oscars appears to be like by means of the years, she was particularly drawn to a sequined Arnold Scaasi outfit that Barbra Streisand wore in 1969, and took that as inspiration for her personal gown. Kurata added that her gown was hand-sewn and purple, to nod to a “dominant color” in her movie, “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”

“It is also a color in the Chinese culture that symbolizes luck, joy and happiness, which also mirror the feelings I have about the movie and my Oscar look,” she wrote.

In an interview, Martin mentioned that she and her husband, director Baz Luhrmann, would put on Prada on Sunday. Martin, who’s nominated for her work on “Elvis,” mentioned that she cherished the sensation of, “on a special occasion, not having to make my own outfit.”

“That feels like a treat, not work,” she mentioned.

“As I’ve gotten older, I’ve got more and more comfortable with being part of the celebration and being happy to be at the dance with everyone else and less self-conscious — less feeling like I’m a backstage person and should just be wearing a black pantsuit,” Martin mentioned. She added that she deliberate to put on two appears to be like for the night: an embellished print gown for the ceremony and a sequined pajama for the after-party.

“My theory about costumes is they’re all clothes,” she mentioned. “However fanciful or removed from reality an outfit is, even in a movie, it still needs to be clothes. I think that costumes are clothes and clothes are costumes, and in a sense, we costume ourselves every day.”

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