In this weekly feature, InStyle’s Fashion News Director Eric Wilson shares his favorite fashion moment of the week, and explains how it could shape styles to come. Look for it on What’s Right Now every Friday.
The Moment: Best actress and Best Supporting Actress are not the only categories at the Academy Awards that fashion people most anticipate. While Thursday's Oscar nominations offered little surprise in that regard (with Cate Blanchett, Lupita Nyong’o, Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts, Amy Adams, and Jennifer Lawrence among them, the red carpet race will be extra intense this year), it was the nominations for costume design and makeup and hairstyling that raised some eyebrows. Like, why was Blue Jasmine overlooked?
Let’s start with costume design. American Hustle, The Great Gatsby, and 12 Years a Slave were obvious choices for their use of fashion to evoke very specific periods and places. If we’re placing bets, Michael Wilkinson, the first-time nominee for American Hustle, would be my choice for the sheer fun of his late 1970s fashion, which dipped into the jersey wrap dress and halter-heavy archives of Diane von Furstenberg, Halston, and Bob Mackie. And Catherine Martin’s costumes for The Great Gatsby were so compelling, especially those jeweled party gowns made by Miuccia Prada, they practically became characters in the film.
Rounding out the group are, for 12 Years a Slave, the incredible Patricia Norris (previously nominated for five films, including Victor/Victoria and Days of Heaven); Michael O’Connor for The Invisible Woman (dressing Dickens is no easy task) and William Chang Suk Ping for The Grandmaster (black belt goes black tie).
Why It’s a Wow: It’s telling to see just how interested big-name designers have become in opening their archives to filmmakers, recognizing the potential exposure and publicity for their companies. This is also probably welcome news to costume designers, since they are often working with tighter budgets and deadlines. Alas, the dead-on dressing of the 1-percent society in Blue Jasmine, the Chanel jackets and Hermès Birkin bags that were lent by those labels, perhaps did not impress the Academy members.
You can’t argue that they turned up their noses to non-period pieces, anyway, not when the nominees for makeup and hairstyling include both The Lone Ranger and Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa. At least that is in addition to the more artistically acclaimed Dallas Buyers Club.