Kidman behind success
When it comes to costume design, clothes can make the show
EVEN vintage-inspired costume designers need a thoroughly modern muse. For long-time film and TV costume designer Ruth Myers, nominated this year for an Emmy for her tailored 1930s and ’40s-based dress slacks and suits in the HBO movie Hemingway & Gelhorn, that muse came in the form of Nicole Kidman. The Australian actress – sleek, svelte and almost 1.78 metres tall – had previously worked with Myers on the 2007 film The Golden Compass.
‘‘Nicole has the best bum in the world . . . She has the perfect figure,’’ Myers says at the recent Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) party for its sixth Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design exhibition.
Myers and other Emmy-nominated costume designers are there to celebrate the clothes from many shows and TV movies, including Hemingway & Gelhorn, American Horror Story, Downton Abbey, Once Upon A Time and Boardwalk Empire.
The exhibition, which runs in Los Angeles until October 20, is copresented by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
The Emmy Awards are announced in Los Angeles on September 23.
On display are the wide-legged, highwaisted trousers, textured beige cardigan and rose-coloured blouse worn by Kidman in her role as Spanish Civil War and World War II correspondent Martha Gelhorn, Hemingway’s third wife. Myers gave the look a contemporary twist, using vintage fabrics recut and redesigned.
‘‘I wanted to be true to the period, but also modern,’’ Myers says.
‘‘The pants are not totally accurate. In the 1940s, the crotch area was more droopy. These are more flattering.’’
Downton Abbey may be taking fashion the other way, by injecting some period flair into modern design. On display are six looks from the show, which last season revolved around the British aristocratic Crawley family during World War I.
A long, dark-blue velvet dress with sheer panelling (worn by Maggie Smith in her role as matriarch Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham) stands near a long-sleeved floor-length brown velvet coat paired with an off-white gown decorated with swirling rows of beads and lace.
Another standout from the exhibition is a gloriously bright yellow halter-neck bathing suit and matching yellow and black striped A-line skirt with black buttons from the series Magic City , which is set in 1959 Miami.
Then there are a stiff red-and-gold embroidered mandarin-style top worn by Peter Dinklage in the period fantasy Game Of Thrones , and a classic lipstickred shoulder-baring cocktail dress from the soapy drama Revenge .
Costume designer Chrisi Karvonides, nominated for an Emmy for the first season of American Horror Story , was inspired by several actresses on the show, including Jessica Lange, who played a ladylike neighbour with a killer edge, and Connie Britton, who played a pregnant wife and mother living in a mansion haunted by murder victims of decades past.
The show’s creator, Ryan Murphy, didn’t want the audience to know by the clothes what period the characters were from, or whether they were alive or dead, says Karvonides. Lange’s character Constance Langdon wore cinched 1960s and ’70s dresses with a Southern air reminiscent of Blanche DuBois from A Streetcar Named Desire. A red wrap silk knit dress is blood-red to have ‘‘a strange glow’’ in the light. The dress features in one of the show’s especially bloody scenes.
‘‘Jessica is the most elegant actress you could hope to work with . . . It was never about choosing beautiful items of clothing. It was always about the character,’’ says Karvonides.
‘‘Connie has broad shoulders, so she could carry loose shapes beautifully,’’
Nicold Kidman and Clive Owen star in