Wonder Woman’s gilded bustier, the spangled skating dresses in “I, Tonya” and the subdued shades of the 1960s as shown in “The Shape of Water” were among the finest costumes of the year, according to the Costume Designers Guild.
The union celebrated the year’s outstanding work in film and television at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Tuesday night at its 20th annual awards show. Hosted by actress Gina Rodriguez, the evening included special honors for Guillermo del Toro and Kerry Washington, and concluded with Sally Field bringing a tote bag of movie memorabilia onstage.
The Oscar-winning actress was on hand to present a career achievement award to costume designer Joanna Johnston, whose many credits include “Saving Private Ryan,” ”Love Actually,” ”The Sixth Sense” and two collaborations with Field: “Forrest Gump” and “Lincoln.”
Field pulled a fuzzy pink sweater from her tote bag before introducing the honoree. It was a handmade piece that Mrs. Gump wore when she told Forrest Gump that “life is like a box of chocolates.”
“It’s such a specific choice for such an important scene — Mama Gump’s death — and it speaks in ways words can’t,” Field said.
She also also showed off a quilt fashioned from pieces of each of Mary Todd Lincoln’s sweeping gowns that Johnston made her as a souvenir from that 2012 film.
“I will pass it around,” she said. And while she did not, she did pose with it onstage.
“All right, who else is going to pull out their quilt?” Rodriguez asked, playfully going off-script throughout the evening.
While the Oscars and Emmys also recognize costume design, the guild’s awards are broken into categories that highlight the intricacies of contemporary, period and sci-fi or fantasy designs.
Film-wise, “Wonder Woman” won for sci-fi/fantasy, “I, Tonya” took the prize for contemporary and “The Shape of Water” (also up for the costume design Oscar) won for period attire. In television, “Game of Thrones” won for sci-fi/fantasy, “The Crown” won for period and “The Handmaid’s Tale” was the contemporary winner.
As “Handmaid’s Tale” designer Ane Crabtree accepted her award, she removed the long black gloves she’d been wearing to reveal that she’d written “Time’s Up” and “Me Too” on her palms.
“We are part of the resistance,” she said.
Many designers wore black in solidarity with the Time’s Up movement, of which costume designer Arianne Phillips is a founder (and designer of the pins all of Hollywood has been wearing). The crowd was also exceptionally stylish, with several neon hair colors and at least one sequined suit spotted among the guests.
A visibly pregnant Eva Longoria and “Scandal” costume designer Lyn Paolo presented Washington with the guild’s Spotlight Award. Paolo called the actress “the most stunningly great collaborator any costume designer could ever have.”
Washington returned the praise, saying that besides supporting her daily on “Scandal,” Paolo understood the power of a pair of shoes.
“I don’t really know who a character is until I know what shoes she wears,” Washington said. “Because the shoes tell me how I walk, they tell me how I stand; they tell me who I am… These costume designers have helped me to figure out how to have a different walk and be a different person.”
Other presenters Tuesday included Lily Tomlin, Sarah Hyland, Tony Hale, Anna Camp and Mark Hamill, who inducted late “Star Wars” costume designer John Mollo into the guild’s Hall of Fame.
In presenting del Toro with the Distinguished Collaborator Award, actor Doug Jones compared “The Shape of Water” writer-director to Walt Disney and George Lucas.
Del Toro said that, to him, costumes aren’t eye candy, but “eye protein,” because they’re such an important form of non-verbal communication in storytelling: “It’s the way we present ourselves to the world and how we engage in dialogue of who we are.”