Oscar History

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Curio: Costume Dramas

Alexa here.  Every year my desire to arrive at the perfect Halloween costume sees me trolling the internet for ideas.  Unlike my husband, who can throw together the perfect Carl Spackler costume in 10 minutes, I need to plan ahead, and I can't sew well enough to get really creative.  Someday I'll create the perfect Maude Lebowski Valkyrie look, but this year, on my daughter's orders, I'm going as a chicken.  Here are some looks I'd rather be wearing for Halloween.


A Black Swan Rodarte replica, $700, from this shop.

Take a flowered house dress, some duct tape, and this book, and you'd have the perfect Geena Davis Beetlejuice look.

Click for more including Marilyn, Catwoman, and Mattie Ross...

Fabulous Marilyn and Joan recreations from this shop.

Nothing against Anne or Halle, but Michelle will always be my favorite Catwoman. Costume available here, if you have $4000 handy.
Add braids to these and you have a good start on a Mattie costume.

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Reader Comments (9)

oooh, i lvoe that Beetlejuice idea. Especially for couples. Put a plaid shirt / glasses on the guy and you've got the couple ;)

October 18, 2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

as much as i love La Pfeiffer as Catwoman I also feel that two peopl who are always ignored in the catwoman conversations that shouldn't be. I mean, don't BOB RINGWOOD and MARY VOGT deserve multiple kudos and maybe royalties for that iconic handstitched costume?

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

Nat - I once found a legal website/blog (Dear Rich) in which he answers a question re: movie costumes; they were not protected by U.S. copyright law as of 2008. (It's possible that's changed since then but given the plethora of "recreations" I doubt it.) Do Ringwood and Vogt deserve multiple kudos? Absolutely. Your post is in fact the first time I recall reading their names; they certainly ought to be as well known among film costume buffs as Catherine Martin or Colleen Atwood.

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJanice

Janice -- well Bob Ringwood was quite well known for movie buffs or genre geeks back in the 80s and 90s but he's retired now (at least from movies). but i mean GENIUS to use homemade techniques and a frankenstein concept for Catwoman. catwoman has been around forever but i don't remember anything like that ever with her costumes before that film.

October 18, 2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

You're right, it was a completely novel reconceptualization. (the original Catwoman's costume from the 1940's comic was inspired by a costume made by Bob Keane's girlfriend.) But then again Catwoman (at least in movies or TV, where I grew up with the chracter) had never had a backstory before, had she? She just seemed to emerge fully born onscreen, like Venus from the shell, except in black latex and leather.

Of course, Burton had/has a tendency to give adapted characters backstories that didn't exist before (including Willy Wonka); I'm not sure if this is particular to Burton or simply a contemporary tendency that earlier generations of viewers/readers didn't require. A lot of times this tendency in Burton, IMO, is unnecessary and can be simplistic, robbing a character of mystery (and not allowing audience members to create their own backstories and thus be "co-creators"). But in this rare instance it was sheer brilliance and every aspect worked together (costumes, performance etc) to create something that was, as you say, truly iconic. (I had the luck to see the movie on the big screen - already getting smaller - back in the day, and I've forgotten everything about that movie except Pfieffer. (And a great scene where an attempt by her and Keaton as Bruce Wayne to have a romantic moment is foiled. At least that's what I remember.)

Alex - I apologize for hijacking your thread! I've seen the Deconstructress' work on ebay before (the Black Swan replica); her MR red satin dress is all right (I've seen better); I prefer her original work, however. (A gown inspired by autumn leaves, dresses with prints adapted from famous paintings, etc.) I never have tried to dress up as a movie character, btw, as much as I loved Halloween when I was younger.

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJanice

As a former lawyer, I love that my silly costume post gave rise to comments re: copyright law.

Janice: Indeed the Deconstructress' work is a bit hit-or-miss, but I appreciated the detail in her Black Swan replica, especially since I considered throwing together my own last year and gave up due to lack of skill. I almost always dress as movie characters (much to most people's confusion).

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlexa

Alexa - You're far far braver than I am for even making the attempt! (And I'm tickled by the co-incidence of your former profession.)

I noted the Deconstructress has an "economy" version for $300 less, but only has photos for the deluxe version. Which she notes her description, but when costumers do deluxe and economy version of the same outfit, I'm always interested in being able to compare and contrast the differences.

When did dressing like movie characters begin for you, and what costume was your favorite (and why?) Least favorite? (I guess this is sort of like a mini version of the on-hiatus "reader profiles")

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJanice

Mmmmmmmmmhhmm, it's the Niagara dress..........

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEva
October 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterlederm
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