The Most Iconic Costumes In Oscar History

15 of the Greatest Costumes in Oscar History

Costume has the ability to transport viewers to another place entirely and as esteemed eight time Academy Award winning costume designer Edith Head said ‘What a costume designer does is a cross between magic and camouflage. We create the illusion of changing the actors into what they are not.’ So to celebrate this weekend’s 88th Academy Awards on February 28th Stylight has collated 15 of the most iconic costumes in Oscar history that were worthy of an award in their own right! From historical robes and classic gowns to fantasy costumes and swanky suits we take a look back at the most fashionable moments in film.

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Everything you need to know about the Oscars "Best Costume Design"

The big question of the 88th Academy Awards: Will Leonardo DiCaprio finally win an Oscar with his sixth nomination? In the western epic film “The Revenant” Leo plays an injured trapper that has to survive alone in the wilderness. A real grizzly skin and tattered and dirty clothes help the Hollywood actor in the movie to look authentic. So if Leo should win the Oscar for “Best Actor in a Leading Role” on 28th of February costume designer Jacqueline West would have a big part in this.

What a lot of people don´t know, within the first years of the Academy Awards costume designers were not even awarded. Only with the 21st Awards in 1949 the award “Best Costume Design” was given the first time. The Oscar queen of costume design is without doubt Edith Head, who got breathtaking 35 times Oscar nominated and eight times awarded. Until a merge in 1967 the award was splitted for black-and-white and color films. Since then most of the time it´s the pompous historical and fantasy costumes that get awarded the most. 

The Classics 

A successful historic costume has the power to transport and immerse viewers into another era. However they often require extensive research and a meticulous attention to detail. Just think back to silver screen siren Vivien Leigh’s authentic Southern style dresses in Gone with the Wind or Kate Winslet’s precious looks in Titanic - so much of the movie’s success is down to the costume! 

A World of Fantasy 

Fantasy movies allow designers to get really creative.  They have a lot of freedom to create out-of-the-world, extraordinary designs, since there is no traditional 'rulebook' to follow.  Though costume designer of “Alice in Wonderland” Colleen Atwood actually wanted Johnny Depp to look like a real hat maker from the Edwardian era and dressed him in a playful but still traditional robe.
 

Beauty in Dresses

While some costumes need dirt, blood or tatters to look authentic, there are others that are meant to be simple dreamy. Take Natalie Portman's Black Swan costume. The gorgeous tutu was made out of black tulle and was studded with Swarovski crystals as well as black feathers. Although costume designer Amy Westcott wasn't awarded with this stunning piece, for us, this was one of the most stunning film costumes of all time. Carey Mulligan also looked stunning in her crystal dress in The Great Gatsby which was a collaboration between costume designer Catherine Martin and Italian fashion house, Prada. The beautiful design earned Martin a well-deserved Oscar in 2013.

Nominees 2016

The choice for this years Best Costume Design Oscar will be tough! With strong contenders The Danish Girl (Paco Delgado) Cinderella and Carol (both Sandy Powell) all nominated. All three feature beautiful, period costumes so are likely to be winners but that’s not to say post-apocalyptic epic Mad Max: Fury Road (Jenny Beavan) couldn’t nab the price or of course The Revenant (Jacqueline West) - just remember, 2003 saw The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King take home the oscar for best costumes - probably Frodo’s most fashionable win ever!

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Behind the Scenes – From My Fair Lady to The Revenant

Movie costumes are part of movie history and sometimes become more iconic than the film itself. The famous Ascot dress that Audrey Hepburn wore in My Fair Lady was auctioned for a whopping $3.7 million in 2011! Some actors are even willing to suffer for the perfect film costume: Nicole Kidman was so desperate to have an 18-inch waist on the set of Moulin Rouge that she broke a rib while getting into the corseted costume. Ouch!

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Which is your favorite movie costume of all time?