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Academy Award For Best Costume Design: Ranked 10 Winners

Ranking ten winners of the Academy Award For Best Costume Design!!

Costumes straight away convey particulars about the story’s setting in a film. Also, it gives audiences information about the characters and their respective roles.

The winners of the Academy Award for Best Costume Design attach their own tang to the movies.

One thing to notice right away is that the cinemas on the Oscars’ list are mostly period pieces. However, there are a handful of standouts from other genres too.

Academy Award For Best Production Design
Academy Award For Best Costume Design (Source: Encyclopedia Britannica)

Likewise, only three designers have won for contemporary stories to date.

Additionally, the best costume designers have knowledge on their way around a book of swatches no matter the time of the story occurring.

Moreover, the judging process of the Academy Award For Best Costume Design cannot be undermentioned.

Take a look at our Best Costume Design Oscar winners, and do not miss on ‘who wore it the best.’

Quick Overview

What’s more, we have built a quick run-through winners list so that you can check out easily in need of creative inspiration.

Costume Design in Movie      Winning Year (Academy Award)
10. Elizabeth: The Golden Age 2007
9. The Young Victoria 2009
8. The Duchess 2008
7. Alice in Wonderland 2010
6. The Great Gatsby 2013
5. Phantom Thread 2017
4. Gladiator
3. Little Women 2019
2. Black Panther 2018
1. Moulin Rouge!  2001

Also, Check Out Our Academy Award For Best Production Design: Ranked 10 Winners

10. Elizabeth: The Golden Age

Year: 2007

Costumes Designed by: Alexandra Byrne

Overall Score: 10% Aesthetic, 5% Innovation, 25% Story, 15% Characters

Undoubtedly, period piece cinemas have a better fluke of getting the Academy Award For Best Costume Design than non-period piece cinemas.

Extra-ordinary costume designer Alexandra Byrne stuck to a brief in Elizabeth: The Golden Age.

Likewise, the film characters, including Liz’s costumes, were remarkable. Also, Liz did look like she could drop the whole Armada with a swoop of her exceptional gowns.

The timepiece of the movie was set back to the intrigue at the royal court of Elizabeth I.

Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Elizabeth: The Golden Age (Source: Eyestylist)

Elizabeth’s strong and fearless emotion was reflected in her dress.

Moreover, the good aspect of costume design in the film was that the costumes were realistic, and all of the things looked authentic.

Likewise, Elizabeth’s wardrobe never missed to stand out.

But, there were a few costume design flaws in the film.

All things considered, Elizabeth’s costumes were eye-catching in every scene.

9. The Young Victoria

Year: 2009

Costumes Designed By: Sandy Powell

Overall Score: 15% Aesthetic, 5% Innovation, 20% Story, 20% Characters

Costume designer Sandy Powell does an outstanding job in The Young Victoria.

The Academy Award For Best Costume Design winner was fortunate to access the royal archives. Also, Queen Victoria’s (played by Emily Blunt) wedding costume and coronation robes looked marvelous.

Likewise, Powell did an amazing job of re-creating the queen’s wardrobe. However, this definitely lowered her innovation score.

The Young Victoria
The Young Victoria (Source: Rotten Tomatoes)

Talking about the good aspects of costume design is intricate research. Also, the costumes are beautifully made, and everything pops up.

Similarly, all of the designs have interesting print choices.

But, there are a few bad aspects too. The costume design looked like copies of archived clothing.

That being so, most gowns and cravats which are seen in the film were all conceived in history. They are beautiful and transport the viewers to the period.

8. The Duchess

Year: 2008

Costume Design By: Michael O’Connor

Overall Score: 10% Aesthetic, 10% Innovation, 25% Story, 20% Characters

Costume Designer Michael O’Connor did a very good job in The Duchess.

The viewer’s attention, if not affection, is certainly necessary for the story, which is fulfilled by the costume department.

But overall, this Georgian drama has a lot of wigs, ruffles, and laces.

The Duchess
The Duchess (Source: Twitter)

Talking about the story, this movie is a biopic about Georgina Cavendish (starring Keira Knightly). Hence, it is necessary to at least showcase her wardrobe.

Likewise, there are several good aspects of costume design, including historically accurate costumes. Also, the movie features the title character well with great hair and makeup.

But talking about the bad aspects, there is a bit of a flat color palette. Repetitive and no new innovation is yet another point where the film fails in the costume design.

On the whole, Academy Award winner Michael O’Connor does fine work, making The Duchess stand out from the Georgian crowd.

7. Alice in Wonderland

Year: 2010

Costumes Design by: Colleen Atwood

Overall Score: 20% Aesthetic, 30% Innovation, 25% Story, 20% Characters

Talented costume designer Colleen Atwood won the Academy Award For Best Costume Design in 2010 for her work in Alice in Wonderland.

Talking about the story and time period, the film is a pure Disney fantasy and the period is essentially Victorian.

Moreover, Atwood keeps up on a variety of eras like the human-sized playing card army with their signature silhouettes and fabrics.

Alice in Wonderland
Alice in Wonderland (Source: IMDb)

The film characters in their costumes make fans believe that Wonderland’s topsy-turvy world actually exists if we fall down the rabbit hole.

Similarly, no design is over-the-top as well. Also, each and every single detail is significant, catching attention.

Likewise, the good aspect of the costume design is that it has wonderful fantasy incarnations with incredible attention to detail.

So, there is a reason why Colleen Atwood makes on our list. Alice in Wonderland perfectly exemplifies all of her work which is as bold as it comes.

6. The Great Gatsby

Year: 2013

Costumes Design by: Catherine Martin

Overall Score: 15% Aesthetic, 15% Innovation, 20% Story, 15% Characters

Designer Catherine Martin infuses the Jazz Age period costumes with a little more sparkle in The Great Gatsby.

Her dream-like costume design was probably accurate with a little more sophistication but was innovative in general.

Talking about the costumes and look, only Nick (played by Toby McGuire) is given the working class treatment. Nick standouts in earth tones and flat, natural fabrics.

The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby (Source: The Common)

The film’s director Baz Luhrmann has always had a distinct look to his work. Similarly, all story he tells is viewed with somewhat of a fantastical eye, and The Great Gatsby is no special case.

Likewise, the good aspects of the costume department include fantasy in the design with sparkles. It works well with a high contrast look that stands out.

However, some of the bad aspects include a look at the standard Jazz age. Also, nearly all the characters in the movie look wealthy, and there is no contrast with working-class characters.

Moreover, costume designer Catherine Martin could have done a bit more to hint at the peculiar past of Jay Gatsby (played by Leonardo DiCaprio).

5. Phantom Thread

Year: 2017

Costumes Design by: Mark Bridge

Overall Score: 15% Aesthetic, 20% Innovation, 20% Story, 20% Characters

Although Paul Thomas Anderson’s venture in Phantom Thread is full of abusive characters, set in the world of the 1950s, the costumes are naturally stunning.

Designed by Mark Bridge, the film received the Academy Award For Best Costume Design in 2017.

Talking about the story, in short, Reynolds Woodcock (played by Daniel Day-Lewis) is an ill-treat genius who can’t imagine distinct his past traumas from his current reality.

Academy Award For Best Costume Design- Phantom Thread
Phantom Thread (Source: Argyro Nicolaou)

Oscar-winning costume designer Mark Bridge triumphs in the formidable task of constructing couture looks that fill this sense of loss into each bespoke gown.

Likewise, some of the good aspects regarding costume design are that the costumes are front and center. It is cool to see the gowns made and beautiful bespoke garments.

But, there are also a few bad aspects, including the same kind of Silhouettes. Also, there is not a lot of variation in the color palette.

Whatever the case, Bridge’s work in the film is beautiful and serves the narration well.

4. Gladiator

Year: 2000

Costumes Design by: Janty Yates

Overall Score: 15% Aesthetic, 10% Innovation, 20% Story, 20% Characters

Costume designer Janty Yates did an excellent job creating costumes that allowed the actors and stunt performers to proceed freely.

Also, Yates’s praiseworthy work in the film includes the distinguishable garments between the rulers, the slaves, and the plebs in between.

Likewise, the good aspect of the costume is that the design takes action into account. The outfit also has nice details for each character.

Academy Award For Best Costume Design- Oscars-Gladiator
Costume Design Gladiator (Image Source: Pinterest)

But the downside of the design is that the costumes miss out on enough royal colors.

Considering everything, it is always tough to bring anything unique to the look of the costumes, especially with historical dramas. But Yates somehow respected the genre.

3. Little Women

Year: 2019

Costumes Design by: Jaqueline Durran

Overall Score: 15% Aesthetic, 10% Innovation, 20% Story, 20% Characters

Costume designer Jaqueline Durran conveys societal restrictions in Little Women well by physically confining the March sisters in tight corsets jackets.

But the girls are liberated, both figuratively and literally, at the same time. Also, the sisters are together, performing like a family.

It looks like writer/ director Greta Gerwig made the film version of the famous novel quite personal because the title characters all have their life goals. This goal is reflected in their dressing style.

Academy Award For Best Costume Design- Little Women
Little Women (Source: Chicago Reader)

Likewise, many of the good aspects of the costume department are that the designs are historically accurate. Each sister has her own sense of style, which adds a unique element.

But the bad side is that the costume design fails to see anything new as a whole.

When all’s said and done, Jaqueline Durran did an outstanding job of illustrating the daily oppressions of a woman in the 19th century through her design.

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2. Black Panther

Year: 2018

Costumes Design by: Ruth E. Carter

Overall Score: 25% Aesthetic, 25% Innovation, 20% Story, 25% Characters

MCU’s Black Panther explores the fictional world of Wakanda (an advanced fictional country in Africa).

Academy Award-winning Costume Designer Ruth Carter did an excellent work combining the ancient with the future.

Not forget to mention, this guy also merged the mundane science with the magic and presented fans with a unique wardrobe for all the splendor and royalty of Wakanda.

Moreover, costumes really matter, especially when it comes to superheroes movie like Black Panther.

Academy Award For Best Costume Design- Black Panther
Black Panther (Source: inchemco. vn)

Likewise, many of the good aspects of the costume department are that it shows antique African garments with super high-tech functions.

Furthermore, Carter is the first Black costume designer to win the Academy Award For Best Costume Design since it began. This proves that representation of community matters.

1. Moulin Rouge!

Year: 2001

Costumes Designed by: Catherine Martin and Angus Straithie

Overall Score: 20% Aesthetic, 15% Innovation, 20% Story, 20% Characters

Moulin Rouge is even more romantic and fantastical because of an earlier collaboration between Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin.

The costumes of this fairy tale are present in a jukebox musical. Also, the designs can be recognized as reminiscent of a music video. It even showcases the period of the narration.

Academy Award For Best Costume Design- Moulin Rouge!
Moulin Rouge! (Source: IMDb)

Moreover, the costume designs fit seamlessly into the movie’s overall look.

Likewise, some of the good aspects are that the design is shiny and has standout colors. The costumes fit the aesthetic tone of the story.

However, the downside of the design includes a very dark palette.


The qualities with their importance (in percentage) is shown below:

  • 25% —  Costumes informing about the character
  • 20% —  Costumes serving the overall story
  • 30% —  Innovative design in some way
  • 25%  —  Aesthetic overall

At the end of the day, the nominees for Best Costume Design are chosen by another art director and costume designer associate of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

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