Why Rodarte Will Not Be Picking Up Best Costume Design!

19 January 2011

natalie portman black swan rodartenatalie portman black swan rodarte

We have been obsessing over the sketches, the first images and any short preview clip we could get our hands on and this Friday – finally! – Black Swan goes on general release here in the UK when we’ll get the chance to swoon over the costumes – tutus, feathers and all – designed by Rodarte. Best Costume Design to the Mulleavy sisters? We think so but alas, it’s not to be.

Not that the film has not been nominated in the relevant category – it was there in yesterday’s BAFTA announcement, under Costume Design alright, and is a shoo-in for the Oscars too. It’s just that, after we regained our composure having watched Mr Dominic Cooper announce the nominees so early in the morning, something else caught our eye. The Mulleavy’s name was nowhere to be seen and the film’s credited costume designer is Amy Westcott. Ms Westcott is a bona fide costume designer working in Hollywood and has already worked with the Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky for his last film, The Wrestler, but what about – as Grace Coddington complains to Anna Wintour in The September Issue, ‘Those poor goddamn Rodartes’?  After all, aren’t the ballerina costumes they designed not  for Natalie Portman but the entire ballet corps what really matters, costume-wise, in the film?

As it happens, the Hollywood Reporter’s Merle Ginsberg has some answers on the matter. It seems, ‘the Mulleavy sisters were “naive about movies” and didn’t negotiate credits in their initial deal. They also weren’t members of the Costume Designers Guild (they are now).’ The strict rules for the Oscars clearly state that only the official designer is eligible for a nomination and that official designer is Amy Westcott as the designer sisters received a backend credit. ‘There’s a long history of fashion designers creating costumes for stars above and beyond what a film’s costume designer does,’ she explains, ‘and not getting the credit they crave. The most famous example: Edith Head winning an Oscar for 1954’s Sabrina, leaving Hubert de Givenchy empty-handed. The French couturier designed all of Audrey Hepburn’s wardrobe for the film, and really, what else was there?’

We agree and it seems that Natalie is very close to Laura and Kate Mulleavy - just as Audrey was to Mr. Givenchy although we doubt those two went hiking as the actress and the designers often do! Natalie oftens chooses Rodarte for her most important red carpet appearances and is a great supporter of the label.

In the case of Black Swan though a more subtle use of costumes is in play, something that can be credited entirely to Westcott and Aronofsky. Nina, Natalie Portman’s character, is introduced to us as a pretty good girl living in a virginal white and pink world – her room, her entire wardrobe is pale pink and white with the odd shade of light grey thrown it. As the plot thickens, more black slowly creeps in her wardrobe; a black vest here, some black leggings there and before you know it…well, you’ll just have to go and watch the movie to find out.

But first, watch again the video we showed you last month, to hear Amy and the Rodarte sisters talk about the film. We’ll have to wait until next month to see whether the film picks up the Best Costume awards but we sure hope Natalie dons some Rodarte soon to make us all feel a bit better about the whole damn thing.



-- Kiki Georgiou


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