Carmen Jones

I stumbled on this movie when I was doing a school project last year and became fascinated with African American style icons from the 50's. I was looking into Dorothy Dandridge's work and saw the trailer for Carmen Jones. A movie based on an opera made in 1954 with an all black cast? I had to watch it! I haven't watched many movies from the 50's and only a handful of musicals so I wasn't sure what to expect. Let's just say, the plot is what it is. It's based on an opera from the 1870's after all. There was also a lot of dubbed singing, which was hard to get used to. I kept watching anyway, mainly because Dandridge was so captivating and I couldn't keep my eyes of her colourful dresses.  I especially love the hooded peach dress she's wearing towards the end of the movie. Her costars didn't disappoint either with their glamorous outfits and headpieces. I looked up Mary Ann Nyberg, the costume designer of the film and learned that she worked on the 1954 version of A Star is Born. I'm a bit curious to watch the earlier versions now that I've seen Bradley Cooper's…

Continue Reading


Lately I've been thinking a lot about the culture I consume. I've been for example asking myself why I like watching costume and period dramas so much and the problematic aspect of watching them as a black woman. There's this interesting article by Monique Jones where she explains the many things she finds difficult watching what she calls problematic faves. I can really relate to her dilemma. Every time I'm watching shows like The Crown or Victoria, I start thinking about colonialism and all the horrible things that came with it. Do I stop watching them? No. Am I conflicted about it? Very much so. When I was growing up and watching these costume and period dramas I wasn't thinking so much about it. These rich white families from centuries ago felt so far removed from my own reality that I watched them with the same fascination as with sci-fi or fantasy movies. But over the years I've become more self conscious about it and started analysing them in a different way. Lately though I've become even more critical. There are plenty of these dramas being made every year and they often only feature white actors. The few roles there…

Continue Reading

The Dressmaker

I'm a big Kate Winslet fan so when I saw the posters for The Dressmaker I knew I had to see it. What I thought was a typical drama set in the 50s turned out to be something quit different. The movie was full of surprises and it managed something quit difficult, to be sad and funny at the same time. Another element of the movie I really liked is the costume design. At times it felt like I was watching a glamorous Dior couture show in the outback. The costumes are not only a part of the story line but sometimes they even emphasise the comedy in the movie. I don't know if that makes any sense but if you watch the movie you'll maybe understand what I'm getting at.

Continue Reading

The Impeccable Palette

I was once watching a tv show listing the most visually beautiful films ever made. Though I questioned how they had come to the result they were presenting, I watched the show to the end out of pure curiosity. I have to admit I hadn't watched half of the classic movies on the list and I even disagreed with some of their choices. There was however one movie that I felt was rightfully at the higher end of the list, Zhang Yimou's Hero from 2002. I'm not going to reveal too much of the plot, I'll just say watch it! The use of colour in the film and the attention to detail in the set and costume design is just impeccable. I've seen this this many times over the years and each time I notice something new.

Continue Reading

Of Queens and Bonnets

I've always been fascinated with queens. Women in history who've been in power at times when women didn't have many rights. So every time there's a bio pic about female royals, I have to watch it. The Young Victoria has been favourite of mine since it came out and I've seen it quit many times now. The movie chronicles the first years of Queen Victoria's rule and her struggle to do right by all. I'd be lying if I didn't say that the costume design is one of the reasons I've seen it so many times. I think I'll be adding Sandy Powell to my list of costume designers whose work I need to explore. The movie is worth watching even if you're not interested in the costumes. The film is very well cast and Emily Blunt is brilliant as Victoria. One thing that struct me that I rarely pay attention to in other costume dramas was the hats and jewellery. There is some serious bling ( the screen shots below don't do the jewels justice) in this movie and at the end I found myself wondering if there's an event I could possibly get away with wearing a bonnet!

Continue Reading

Master of her craft

Fairy tales are constantly being reinterpreted on the big screen and costumes are an important part of conveying that other worldliness. That's why I'll watch the movies even though I've heard the story a million times before. With  Mirror Mirror I think the creators were trying to update the fairy tale with a few jokes and modern language.  As much as I love Julia Roberts and Lily Collins, the jokes didn't quit work for me. The costumes on the other hand were pure perfection. The sheer size of some of the dresses, the colours, the craftsmanship, I'm in awe! Too bad Eiko Ishioka , the film's costume designer didn't get an Oscar for her excellent work, she definitely earned it in my book.I think I'll watch more films that the late designer worked on and explore this tumblr dedicated to her work.

Continue Reading

Mr. Anderson’s wonderful world

There was a time I didn't understand the hype around Wes Anderson and his movies.  I remember falling asleep while watching The Life Aqutic with Steve Zissou with one of my brothers. To my defence I was really tired and sleepy. Then I saw Moonrise Kingdom and it became clear why Anderson has a cult following. And what's not to love? There's the original stories with their quirky characters, the elaborate sets and costumes, not to forget the music.I think what I love the most about Anderson's movies is the unpredictability of the story lines and the colours ( There's even a tumblr dedicated to the movies' colour palettes).  When The Grand Budapest Hotel came out some critics wrote that it was his best film so far and I have to agree. I simply loved everything about it! The film's costume designer Milena Canonero also did a wonderful job. I have to get acquainted with some of her other wok.So it's official, I'm a Wes Anderson fan!

Continue Reading

Another Atwood masterpiece

After watching Show White and the Huntsman for probably the 4th time ( Charlize Theron is awesome in that movie) I've become a fan of Colleen Atwood, the film's costume designer.  I'm now getting familiar with her work and last week I watched  Alice in Wonderland again after I found out  she had  designed the costumes. I hadn't seen it since the exciting 3D experience in Turku a couple of years ago. I do remember being impressed by the costumes and set decoration (not to forget the Cheshire cat in 3D) when I originally saw it and I still feel the same way today. Even though a lot in the movie  is CGI, the craftsmanship on the costumes still stands out and for me costumes are an essential part of immersing myself into the world the story takes place in. I'm really looking forward to Atwoods's next film to hit the cinemas, Into the Woods. Besides the costumes and the singing, Merly Streep is in it! I can't wait!

Continue Reading

The best dressed evil queen

I love movies and tv-series with elaborate costumes. From those BBC adaptations of classic novels to the latest fantasy blockbuster, I'll watch them all. It's not unusual for me to choose to see a movie at the cinema just because of the costume design. I'm now seriously thinking about how to get into that industry. If anybody has any tips let me know! Snow White and the Huntsman is one movie with great costumes, especially Charlize Theron's character. As much as I keep rooting for Kristen Stewart's character, Theron's costumes are one of the reasons I've now seen this movie like 3 times. So Colleen Atwood did one hell of a job! I read somewhere that she's been nominated for an Oscar 9 times. I think I have to watch some of the other movies she's worked on.

Continue Reading
Close Menu