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How to Earn an Oscar nomination for Costume Design: Dress a Queen in Victoria & Abdul #book2movies

This year’s list of costume design Oscar nominees includes Mark Bridges for Phantom ThreadLuis Sequeira for The Shape of WaterJacqueline Durran for both Beauty and the Beast and Darkest Hour—how extraordinary!—and Consolata Boyle for Victoria & Abdul.

Since I’ve already written a post on the costume design for Victoria & Abdul, let’s go with that, shall we? I’ll endeavor to get to the other bookish nominees before Oscar day on March 5. 

How to Dress a Queen 

It’s not the first time Consolata Boyle, the costume designer behind Victoria & Abdul, has dressed a queen. Boyle earned an Oscar nomination for transforming Helen Mirren into The Queen in 2007, she was also nominated for dressing Meryl Streep as Florence Foster Jenkins in 2016. With Testament of Youth, Miss Julie, Philomena, The Iron Lady on her c.v., the designer clearly knows how to work in the world of costume dramas.

Let’s take a look at how she approached dressing Judi Dench—who she also dressed in Philomena— as Queen Victoria, the widow queen who dressed in black for most of her life. As she told Fawnia Soo Hoo at Fashionista ...

I had many conversations with mechanical and our lighting cameraman about how to make black have more depth and be less flat and less slightly light absorbing. In keeping with the fashion and facts of the time, there was a lot of heavy embellishment on the gowns and a lot of detail, a lot of embroidery, a lot of lace, a lot of layered on trim. Jet, which sparkles in light, was a very common decoration. Pleating, frilling and masses of ribbon was used in Victorian period to create texture and detail, and Victoria was a great person for adding embellishment and the use of jewelry.