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Dec 11 2013

Team FYC: "Blue Jasmine" for Costume Design

In the FYC series, we're spotlighting our favorite fringe contenders. Here'sabstewon Blue Jasmine's threads.

When it comes to the Oscar for Best Costume Design, the Academy's aesthetic seems rather limited. They go one of two ways: Period Piece or Fantasy. Having a tendency to confuse 'Best' with 'Most' the eventual winner is often whichever is that year's most elaborate or over-the-top design (Alice in Wonderland,really?!). Contemporary set films with well-thought-out clothes that define the character tend to get overlooked in the Season End Gold Rush.蒂凡尼的早餐,Pretty Woman, andCluelessare all victims of this crime against fashion. So, hopefully when the nominations are announced on January 16th, Cate Blanchett's inevitable Best Actress nomination forBlue Jasminewill be joined by a nomination for Suzy Benzinger's meticulously designed costumes for the Woody Allen film.

As a Park Avenue socialite, Jasmine French's life is defined by labels. Not just the one's society has placed on her - wife, mother, sister - but, more importantly, the one's that matter most to her, Designer labels - Chanel, Fendi, Louis Vuitton (Blanchett's pronunciation of the French fashion house is perfect in its pretension). In the first shot we see of her, sitting in First Class in her Chanel jacket, crisp white shirt, and strands of pearls, we immediately know who this woman is before she's even said a word. The Upper East side theater I saw the film in (next to Bloomingdale's, of course) was populated with woman all wearing a variation of the uniform. So, it makes sense that when Jasmine's world unravels after the downfall of her corrupt husband, the labels are all she has to cling to. Upon meeting her sister Ginger's boyfriend Chili and his friend, she clutches that highest of all status symbols, theHermès Birkin bag, as if her life depends on it. Without it she'd be just as low-class as they are.

And yet, as the film progresses, you begin to see something a woman in her position would never be caught doing in public - repeating outfits. There's that Chanel jacket again paired with a different shirt. Jasmine's fall from grace has forced her to be thrifty, mixing and matching clothes like a regular person. And she's soon confronted with something she thought she'd never have to wear in her life: hospital scrubs at a dentist office. (Her sister Ginger's job as a grocery store checkout girl, requires her to wear a similarly hideous smock.) The juxtaposition of how different the two are is clearly illustrated by the women's clothes. Ginger, all short denim skirts and platform espadrilles, is everything Jasmine has spent her whole life avoiding. Benzinger expresses so much about these character's through what they're wearing. The costumes are more than just clothes, but an essential element of the storytelling.

some previous FYCs...Mud|Stories We Tell|In a World...|Short Term 12|The Great Gatsby|Nebraska|Lawrence Anyways|World War Z|The World's End|The Conjuring|Aint Them Bodies Saints

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Reader Comments (4)

Of course, the funny thing because she still looks incredible in the hideous dentist office smock.

The thing I loved most of all about it was the detailing that was added throughout the film. By the final scene, Jasmine's outfit is sweat-stained and lifeless after being so crisp and beautiful at the start. It looked like someone had actually *worn* the clothes!

December 11, 2013 |Unregistered CommenterGlenn

that still from the final scene still gives me the creeps.

nice post, I'm not very costume-aware in movies and I fully remember cate looking fabulous throughout. there was definitely a lot of thought put into them and how jasmine wore them (down)

December 11, 2013 |Unregistered Commenter

Unfortunately none of the supporting players dress like anyone you see in contemporary San Francisco...but then, none of them are written like anyone you meet in contemporary SF, either. Woody got his setting seriously wrong in this movie.

December 11, 2013 |Unregistered CommenterSan FranCinema

This would be amazing. I'm stuck between this and Stoker as my favorite contemporary costuming of the year. Blue Jasmine uses it for character development and to establish a class system. It's really smart work.

December 11, 2013 |Unregistered CommenterRobert G

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