There’s one place to soak in the past, present and future of how audiences understand the world through the clothes characters wear in movies and television — the Costume Designers Guild Awards.
The 19th installment of the ceremony at the Beverly Hilton, hosted by “This Is Us” star Mandy Moore, began Tuesday night with a compilation video of the year in costumes, culled from the nominees’ work. Like a history lesson in 60 seconds, the clip cut from the majesty of British royalty to the hallways of NASA to the streets of modern-day Los Angeles and beyond. The message: Costume designers cover a vast stretch of time and place, the imaginary and the real, to help actors bring their characters to life.
Who better to illustrate that potent mix of talent, costume and story than Meryl Streep? Her frequent costume designer, Ann Roth, presented the actress the Distinguished Collaborator award in recognition of the “astonishing array of characters” she’s portrayed in her four-decade career.
Streep confessed that she had once intended to become a costume designer, but said it was her mother who first harbored and acted on the desire. At Halloween, she crafted Streep’s costumes from hat boxes, ice cream signs and even aluminum chicken pot pie tins that served as brassieres.
Jeffrey Kurland flew in from the London production of the Christopher Nolan film “Dunkirk” to receive the career achievement award. Kurland is also the first costume designer to hold an executive position on the Board of Governors at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Legendary costume designer Bob Mackie received the night’s longest standing ovation as he inducted his longtime design partner, Ret Turner, into the Hall of Fame. Turner was the oldest working member of the Costume Designers Guild when he died last year at age 87. Mackie described Turner’s contributions as a designer, mentor and de facto personal assistant and stylist to stars such as Carol Burnett, Diana Ross and Cher.
“Do you remember her famous Oscar outfit with the feather mohawk?” Mackie asked the audience of Cher. “I designed it, but more importantly, Ret got her into it.”
The night’s big winner was Michele Clapton, who took home two awards; one for outstanding fantasy television series for “Games of Thrones,” and the statuette for outstanding period television series for Netflix’s “The Crown.”
Clapton shared the “Game of Thrones” award with April Ferry, who designed eight episodes last year as Clapton worked on “The Crown.”
“It was lovely to step away from ‘Game of Thrones’ and to leave it in such fabulous hands,” Clapton told Ferry. “I felt like it was giving you the keys to a tank that was barreling downhill, and ‘Here, have a go.’ ”
Mary Zophres, who also was nominated for her period film work in “Hail, Caesar!,” won the outstanding contemporary film award for the colorful “La La Land.” If the guild awards predict who will earn the costume design Academy Award, then Zophres could prevail over fellow guild and Oscar nominee Consolata Boyle of “Florence Foster Jenkins.”
Though Zophres and Boyle were nominated in the competitive category, excellence in period film, the statuette went to Renee Ehrlich Kalfus for “Hidden Figures.” On the red carpet, Ehrlich Kalfus said she secretly coveted the sheath dresses she made for the film, but not the ’60s-era industrial girdles she made the actresses wear.
Eleven-time Oscar nominee Colleen Atwood earned two guild nominations for excellence in fantasy film: “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” and her also Oscar-nominated “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” Yet the guild fantasy award went to Alexandra Byrne for “Doctor Strange.”
Lou Eyrich won her fourth guild award for “American Horror Story.” The AHS “Roanoke” installments earned the outstanding contemporary television series honor, shared with Helen Huang.
Ami Goodheart won the excellence in short form design for her Pepsi commercial, “Momotaro,” featuring Jude Law. The piece won over B. Ackerlund’s “Hold Up” with a baseball-bat wielding Beyoncé. Lois DeArmond, an illustrator who has worked on 70 films, won the guild’s distinguished service award.
Wearing a standout Alexander McQueen embroidered gown, Lily Collins received the Lacoste Spotlight Award, which is named for the French luxury brand, the awards’ presenting sponsor. As he gave the award, Matt Bomer, Collins’ co-star in “The Last Tycoon,” invoked the immortal Edith Head, who said it all: “What a costume designer does is a cross between magic and camouflage.”
Costume Designers Guild Awards winners
Excellence in Contemporary Film: “La La Land” – Mary Zophres
Excellence in Period Film: “Hidden Figures” – Renee Ehrlich Kalfus
Excellence in Fantasy Film: “Doctor Strange” – Alexandra Byrne
Outstanding Contemporary Television Series: “American Horror Story: Roanoke” – Lou Eyrich, Helen Huang
Outstanding Period Television Series: “The Crown” – Michele Clapton
Outstanding Fantasy Television Series: “Game of Thrones” – Michele Clapton, April Ferry
Excellence in Short Form Design: Pepsi: “Momotaro” Episode Four, featuring Jude Law — Ami Goodheart