Hillary Atkin

Costume Designers, Bringing TV Characters to Life. And Winning Awards for Doing So

Feb 24, 2011

The “Boardwalk” continues to sweep up awards left and right this season–the latest being a coveted Costume Designers Guild Award for outstanding period/fantasy television series. Designers John Dunn and Lisa Padovani picked up their trophy during gala ceremonies Tuesday night, Feb. 22, 2011, at the Beverly Hilton.

In the 1920s-era freshman HBO series “Boardwalk Empire,” set in and around Atlantic City’s boardwalk, they dress everyone from gangsters and their molls to rum runners, law enforcement officers and suffragettes. The beautifully tailored and often brightly colored men’s suits and overcoats worn by characters based on real people including Nucky Thompson and gangster Arnold Rothstein have drawn the attention of major men’s fashion magazines. The women’s clothing is even further spotlighted in a shop on the boardwalk run by a French woman who imports the latest fashions from Paris, often shown off on Nucky’s girlfriend, or his former consort.

HBO’s acclaimed “Temple Grandin” took the award in the outstanding TV movie or miniseries category for designer Cindy Evans.

In the category for outstanding design in contemporary television series, it was a tough race among "Dancing With the Stars," "Glee," "Modern Family" and "Treme.”

A “Glee-ful” cheer went up as costume designer Lou Eyrich took home the prize, as he she did last year, at the 13th annual edition of the guild’s event, hosted by actress Kristin Davis, who wore a flowing full-length white gown with large black polka dots for the occasion. The awards honor the best costume design in television, film and commercials.

If there was a night to show up in fashionable attire, this was certainly it, and other presenters, including Samuel L. Jackson, Kellan Lutz, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, Robert Duvall and Diane Lane, didn’t disappoint. Billy Bob Thornton joked he’d left all his Helmut Lang shirts at the cleaners, but most in the well-dressed crowd would agree he looked pretty dapper on stage, even if his tie was admittedly a little off center.

The costume designers for "Black Swan," "The King’s Speech" and "Alice in Wonderland” took home the awards for costume design excellence in the three motion picture categories for period, fantasy and contemporary film.

Isaiah Mustafa, better known as the Old Spice guy, fittingly presented the award for best design in a commercial. It went to Aude Bronson Howard for the spot “Chanel, Bleu de Chanel.”

Director Joel Schumacher, who began his career as a costume designer, was presented the Distinguished Collaborator award by Bill Maher. Schumacher reflected on his early days pulling pieces at Western Costume, the famous costume house that was lauded throughout the evening.

The late Michael Dennison, known for his work on the television biopic “Georgia O’Keeffe” and films including “World Trade Center” and “W.,” was honored with the Hall of Fame Award.

The Disaranno Career Achievement in Film and Television award went to Julie Weiss, a woman with a larger than life personality who has dressed everyone from Brad Pitt in “Twelve Monkeys,” for which she received an Oscar nomination, to Diane Lane in last year’s “Secretariat.” Lane was among the high-wattage group that included Moore and Kutcher, Duvall and Thornton–all of whom she’s dressed–on stage to honor Weiss’s illustrious career.

Halle Berry–in a stunning Elie Saab partially see-through red gown of chiffon and lace–was honored with the Lacoste Spotlight Award. The crowd was treated to a montage of her costumes throughout 20 years on screen, including her roles as Storm, Catwoman, the Bond girl in the hot orange bikini and some of her early films, such as “Jungle Fever.” In one role, she sported a gold tooth, suggested, she said, by the costume designer.

In a rousing speech, Berry closed by saying, “Stylists are not costume designers. Not to belittle them, but there’s a huge difference. A stylist helped me pick this dress, but she’s not a designer. Costume designers help bring characters to life.”


  1. A “Glee-ful” cheer went up as costume designer Lou Eyrich took home the prize, as he did last year, at the 13th annual edition of the guild’s event”
    Lou Eyrich is a SHE!

  2. Great article. I didn’t know there were awards for best costumes. Thanks for writing.

Leave a Reply to Jodi Cancel Reply

Email (will not be published)