Posts Tagged ‘the Academy Awards’

I was looking at press coverage of the recent Academy Awards ceremony trying to spot historical references. The Dior designed ensemble worn by Natalie Portman (pictured above) incorporated several details of the past.

  • The gold embroidery on the long gown is reminiscent of the heavily embellished fabrics that the Byzantines (AD 339 – 1453) favored.
  • The gold rope sash reminds me of Greek and Roman ties that were used with tunics.
  • The black cape echoes the Mantle from the Early Middle Ages (10th & 11th centuries).

(Ms. Portman’s cape was embroidered with the names of women directors whom she felt had been snubbed by the Academy. Her actions are apparently controversial and since I don’t really know much about it, I don’t have a comment. Except to say that I do enjoy seeing clothing used to communicate messages – as long as it’s done subtly.)


A depiction of Byzantine Empress Theodora surrounded by her courtiers.  The men are wearing short tunics under an outer layer called the Paludamentum, as is the Empress who was the only woman allowed to wear this garment.  The other  women are wearing a long-sleeved tunic called Dalmatic, and on top a Palla (shawl).  All the fabrics used are heavy and elaborately embellished.


Women from the Byzantine and Middle Ages kept covered from head to toe, so hair and chest would not be revealed. In that regard Ms. Portman’s ensemble is very modern. But what an interesting mix!





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Brooks Brothers copied their original 70s Herringbone tweed sports coat for the film Argo.

Ms. West asked Brooks Brothers to copy their original 70s Herringbone tweed sports coat for Ben Afflick’s character in the film Argo.

I always think it’s the second an actor puts the clothes on and stands differently … they’re transplanted. The clothing is the bridge between the actor and the characters.

– Jacqueline West, costumer. This quote is from an interview printed in The Costume Designer: The Official Magazine of the Costume Designers Guild.

Ms. West started her fashion career as boutique owner in Berkeley, CA from which she designed and sold her own line – Identikit. Her first costuming gig was for Henry & June in 1990. She went on to Rising Sun, Quills, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button for which she earned an Academy Award nomination, and Ben Afflick’s late-70s period film Argo.

(The 2015 Academy Award for Best Costumes went to  Milena Canonero – The Budapest Hotel.)




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