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Audrey Hepburn starred in Billy Wilder’s, “Sabrina,” wearing costumes designed by Edith Head.

February 22, 2008

Academy Awards 2008, Watch the Costumes

“No One Knows Our Name”

If you read, Dressed: A Century Of Hollywood Costume Design,” published by Harper Collins last November, you’ll be hypersensitive to the difference between red carpet fashion and the art of costume design when you watch the Academy Awards Sunday night.  Written by Deborah Nadoolman Landis, president of The Costume Designers’ Guild,Dressed” takes the reader from the lavish productions of Hollywood’s Golden Age to contemporary blockbusters, illustrating the pivotal role the costume designer plays in creating the authentic characters that move an audience to tears and to laughter.

Costume designers are not dressing to impress but rather to define the character.  Landis sees herself as a cultural anthropologist.  “The first thing we ask the director is, ‘Who are these people?’” says Landis.  “It’s our job to help the actor and the director discover who these characters are.”

Landis may be exaggerating a little when she says of herself and fellow costume designers, “No one knows our name.”  But it is true that nearly everyone knows what Indiana Jones looks like while few will remember that Landis designed the costumes for “Raiders of The Lost Ark”.

In her most recent book, Landis uses a lush collection of photographs and costume sketches, some of them previously unpublished, along with first-person anecdotes to convey the role of costume in film.  A professor at the USC School of Cinema and television and the American Film Institute, Landis is currently curating a history of costume design that will open at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in 2010.

She was awarded the first grant for costume design from the National Endowment for the Arts in the U.S. and holds a PhD in History of Design from the Royal College of Art in London.####

Click here to purchase “Dressed: A Century Of Hollywood Costume Design,” by Deborah Landis.

Posted by Pamela at February 22, 2008 4:51 PM| Share on Facebook | Books

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