Welcome to FrockTalk, the web’s only costume-based movie review site. The goal of Frocktalk is to shed light on the magnificent artistry of costume design in motion pictures. Reviews on this site are written by working costume designers in the entertainment industry – people who know, better than anyone, what it takes to make it all happen. The focus of FrockTalk is not to comment on the big flashy costume dramas, but to call attention to the seemingly ordinary costume design work in film that silently and persuasively moves the audience toward understanding the characters. Costume design for motion pictures is an art form that deserves more recognition than it usually gets. Fancy, pretty costumes do not always equal effective, appropriate costumes. The art of the costume is in letting the audience know who the character is, before the actor even has a chance to open his mouth. Read on, and enjoy. ** CAUTION: ALL REVIEWS CONTAIN SPOILERS! **

Tag Archive for 'history'

Drunk History: Interview with Designer Christina Mongini

Drunk History

By Lauren Fonville

We’ve been fans of Drunk History’s slurred, comedic take on American history and it’s slightly-off period costumes since its early days at a web series on FunnyorDie.com. Now the show created by host Derek Waters and director Jeremy Konner is finally getting a run as a full series airing Tuesdays at 10 pm on Comedy Central.

Who better than costume designer Christina Mongini to bring the show’s inebriated versions of events like Watergate and the Battle of the Alamo to life? The comedy vet has earned her chops as the costume designer for HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm and is about to go into production on season five of The League on FX.

We sat down with Christina to discuss Drunk History’s quirky aesthetic; its panoply of guest stars including Jack Black, Dave Grohl, Lisa Bonet, Owen Wilson, Luke Wilson, and Kristen Wiig; and the particular challenges of costuming comedy.

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Hyde Park on Hudson

Review Date: 11-8-12

Release Date: 12-7-12

Runtime: 94 minutes

Period: 1939

Costume Designer: Dinah Collin

Hyde Park on Hudson chronicles a time in American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt‘s life when he becomes intimately involved with his distant cousin Daisy. War looms in Europe, and the British Crown seeks his help. With King George VI and Queen Elizabeth coming for a visit, what to do about the mistress? FDR and Daisy’s relationship seems unlikely at best, however the costumes help to tell the story about class, privilege, status, and wealth.

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Tales from London: the Best Costume Exhibit of ALL TIME!

I’m finally back at home and settled in after a fabulous and unforgettable visit to Europe. I am so grateful to have been able to make this trip. I feel so lucky to have been able to be a part of the Hollywood Costume celebration at the Victoria and Albert museum; I don’t even know where to begin. London, V & A, Deborah Landis, David C. Copley – a million thank yous would never be enough. This exhibit at the V & A marks a new chapter in costume design. We are officially on the map, if you ever missed us before.

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Bata Shoe Museum – Podcasts!

From the Bata Museum: Roger Vivier for German tannery Heyl-Libenau, French, 1934

From the Bata Museum: Roger Vivier for German tannery Heyl-Libenau, French, 1934

Frocktalkers, if you love shoes (really?  Like who wouldn’t love shoes?!) you are going to LOVE this.  The Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto has a fabulous website, and they have PODCASTS all about shoes – famous peoples’ shoes, historical shoes, unusual shoes, I mean, WOAH.  It’s pretty incredible.  Thanks to Frocktalker Haleh for alerting me to this.  I need to grab my earbuds and get listening!  Enjoy!!

– KMB

Creative Arts PrimeTime Emmy Winners 2011

Congratulations to the Emmy winning costume teams – awards were handed out last night, and here are the results!

OUTSTANDING COSTUMES FOR A MINISERIES, MOVIE OR A SPECIAL

SUSANNAH BUXTON, Costume Designer   CAROLINE MCCALL, Assistant Costume Designer

Downton Abbey (Masterpiece)  Part 1    PBS
OUTSTANDING COSTUMES FOR A SERIES
GABRIELLA PESCUCCI, Costume Designer ULIVA PIZZETTI, Costume Supervisor
The Borgias SHOWTIME
Lucrezia’s Wedding

OUTSTANDING COSTUMES FOR A VARIETY/MUSIC PROGRAM OR A SPECIAL

(Juried award: Possibility of one, more than one or no award). This is a juried award determined by a panel of judges from the Costumes peer group. Recommendation(s) from the jury are brought to the Board of Governors for ratification.
KATE CARIN, Costume Designer ABIGAIL METCALF, Costume Supervisor
Gettysburg HISTORY

AMANDA NEEDHAM, Costume Designer NIKI DIMITRAS, Costume Supervisor
Portlandia FARM

(source:  emmys.com)

Congratulations to these costume teams on their outstanding work!!

– KMB

Debbie Reynolds’ Costume Auction Prices Through the Roof!

The big auction of Debbie Reynolds’ prized costume collection was yesterday, and my, my my – the prices were astounding.  Marilyn Monroe’s iconic white subway grate halter dress from The Seven Year Itch went for $4.6M.  Add the $1M auction commission the buyer must pay, that’s a whopping $5.6M.  For a dress!  But it’s not just a dress, as we all know.  It’s a costume, and it’s a piece of Hollywood history.  Congrats to Debbie Reynolds on the success of her auction.  Indiewire has a nice article summing it up – read it HERE.  Looks like there’s no official tally of auction prices, but I will post them as soon as I see them.  Have a great week, everyone!

UPDATE:  Full list of sale prices HERE!  Thanks, Chris!

– KMB

Adventures in Costuming: Memorylane.com!

The Winner Takes it All!

The Winner Takes it All!

If you have ever had a costume presentation to make detailing a specific year, including the trends, music, events and other things that took place back then, you know how difficult it can sometimes be to find good, reliable information and (more importantly for us) pictures.  There are a few places to check.  Wikipedia is usually pretty reliable for background information.  The People History has additional (though vague) information about prices of things, and a small blurb about fashion in the particular era.  There is some info on Fashion Era, but not many pictures of actual garments. It is difficult to get accurate photos (and lots of them) in one place.

Enter Memorylane.com.  Formerly known as classmates.com, Memorylane is a wonderful database of specific images on a year-by-year basis.  It is a searchable database, full of images and videos specific to that particular year.  No guesswork as to whether or not the poster of the photo had the year right.  It’s lovely.  Check it out!  And good luck with your presentations!

– KMB

Gone With The Wind Gowns Need your Help!

Very interesting article in the LA Times.  Some of the famous Walter Plunkett-designed gowns from Gone With the Wind are in need of restoration and repair.  You can make a donation to help save them HERE.  Keep in mind, most film costumes are not made to last forever, just through the shooting period, really.  If these costumes are to be preserved, it is going to take some work!  Once the costumes are restored, they can be exhibited, and we can share this important chapter of our art form’s history with the public.  If you’d like more information about Walter Plunkett and the design process for this epic film, click HERE!

— KMB

Steampunks Elucidate Their Universe!

Professor Jager, detail

Professor Jager, detail

It is with great pleasure that I present to you this evening, an interview with some of Southern California’s most prominent Steampunks.  Here, we get to the heart of Steampunkiness – the hows, whats, and whys of it all.  Never before has there been such clarity!  I am deeply appreciative that they took the time to answer these questions, so we can all learn a little bit more about this beautiful costume aesthetic.  Answers below are from Gail Folsom, Andrew Fogel (a.k.a. Baron von Fogel) , and Nick Baumann (a.k.a. Crackitus Potts).  Read on…
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Costume Research: Tsarist Russia

Costume designers are re-creators of universes.  We can recreate the stone age, the renaissance, the crusades, the Roman empire, and even Genghis Khan and the Mongols.  In order to do this, however, we need research… loads and loads of research.  There are many types of research – primary (meaning photographs from the time period, and the actual antique garments themselves), and secondary (drawings, paintings, descriptions, stories, etc.).  It is a beautiful and inspiring thing to find a new resource for primary research.  I was introduced to one of those sources today – Russian photographer Sergey Mikhaylovich Prokudin-Gorsky.  One hundred years ago, Prokudin-Gorsky took COLOR photographs all over Russia.  That’s right:  COLOR photographs.  He used a system of color plate negatives to do it, and the results are amazing. I can’t think of another source from that time to shoot color photographs (other than color-tinted prints, which don’t really count, as they do not show true color).  These photographs are amazing; see for yourself~

Sergey Mikhaylovich Prokudin-Gorsky Photographs

And thanks to JD for sharing this with me!

** Update**  More links for Prokudin-Gorsky photos HERE, HERE and HERE!!  Amazing stuff!! Thanks, JD!

–KMB



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