Anne Hathaway had the crowd going when she dramatically announced, "We should all take a moment of silence …," took a long pause, and then continued, "for the more than 100 disco balls that died for the sake of my dress."
It was a comment that may have missed its mark comedically -- Hathaway, a recent "Saturday Night Live" host, bowed to the greater expertise of Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph there -- but her comment was perfectly appropriate within the context of the 15th Annual Costume Designers Guild Awards.
Actor and comedian Joel McHale hosted the gala, held Tuesday, Feb. 19, in the Beverly Hilton’s International Ballroom.
Awards season regulars call it the most fun and loose of the guild presentations, which, with the exception of the Screen Actors Guild ceremony, are not televised, and therefore foster a much wider swath of freedom of speech.
The Costume Designers Guild hands out awards for costume design excellence in seven categories in film, television and commercials, as well as four honorary statues.
Hathaway was honored with the LACOSTE Spotlight Award, which was presented by her “Les Miserables” co-star, Russell Crowe, in a rare public appearance.
"I did a lot of research on Anne. She originally wanted to be a nun, but ditched that idea because she wouldn't be part of an organization that couldn't love her gay brother," Crowe said.
"She measures everything with her heart,” he said in introducing a clip reel that showcased the costumes she wore in films ranging from "The Princess Diaries" to "The Devil Wears Prada," “Brokeback Mountain” to "The Dark Knight Rises" and her latest and much acclaimed outing as Fantine in “Les Miz.”
"I have always wanted a crystal crocodile," Hathaway said in accepting the award.
Earlier in the evening, Rudolph, Poehler, “30 Rock” and “SNL” costume designer Tom Broecker and Steve Martin had lauded producer Lorne Michaels for receiving the Distinguished Collaborator Award. Rudolph reflected on her days at "SNL" when her costume changes went from Beyonce to Maya Angelou in the space of a commercial break.
"Lorne Michaels is a legend," Martin said. "Lorne Michaels does it all. He produces …" (insert audience laughter here) “... and I'm glad were not giving him a plaque, and that it's a trophy. Not one man in Hollywood wants a plaque wife. He wants a trophy wife."
Another honorary award went to Eduardo Castro, for career achievement in television, spanning 25 years of his work on shows including "Miami Vice," “Ugly Betty" and "Once Upon a Time."
Castro gave a lengthy acceptance speech that highlighted anecdotes from his career, beginning as a student at Carnegie Mellon and moving on to an apprenticeship at Western Costume before touching on other stories from his years as a costume designer -- a protracted speech that had McHale proclaiming “holy shit” when it finally ended.
Molly Maginnis kept her acceptance nice and tight when she took the prize for costume design in a contemporary television series for NBC’s “Smash.”
“Downton Abbey’s” Caroline McCall won the trophy for period/fantasy television series and Lou Eyrich got the award for made-for-TV movie or miniseries with "American Horror Story: Asylum, Season 2."
Judianna Makovsky took the stage twice, once for winning for commercial design with “Captain Morgan Black" and again in receiving the career achievement award in film for her work in pictures including "The Cotton Club," "Dick Tracy," "Big," "Lolita," "The Devil's Advocate," "Reversal of Fortune,” “Seabiscuit,” "Great Expectations” and "The Hunger Games."
Another highlight of the evening, presenter Shirley MacLaine, who called costume designers "intricate people who mess with your body" and "people who make the past live."
They also apparently get to keep whatever is left in the pockets of their costumes. Said McHale, “Edith Head made a fortune from black tar heroin she found."