Costume Design: From Fashion House to the Big Screen

The tradition of fashion in the film industry reaches back to its very beginnings. As soon as the first leading lady stepped onscreen, she became known for her sense of style. In fact, many of our current and past fashion icons made their mark by showing off their trend-setting look on film. The question is, when did the marriage between film and fashion begin?

From Costumes to Everyday Wear—Film Fashions Through Time

When filmmaking first began in the late 1800s and early 1900s, they were silent films filled with interesting costumes. The drama required in early films was reminiscent of that which was seen in theaters at the time, which meant the styles were far different from everyday wear. As movie making progressed into a popular source of entertainment, which was more easily accessible, actors began to take on more realistic personas.

As this transition occurred, distinct differences in costuming could be noted. What was once seen as ornate costuming meant to steal the show on the silent screen became a more accessible style that could be found in fashion houses. Leading ladies and men alike would begin to don styles that were common to the people watching the films. Trendsetters were now seen onscreen and the styles they wore would become the latest fashions.

From On Screen to Off the Rack

As this transition occurred in the movie industry, fashion houses began to see the powerful advertising tool films could be. Movie stars like Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, and Elizabeth Taylor would emerge in the 20th Century as fashion icons. The careful selection of accessible styles the audience could find in their own towns would change movies from a simple source of entertainment to a powerful marketing tool used to influence the public.

As movie making continued to grow throughout the 20th Century, the role of fashion in film would flourish. No longer a matter of creating one of a kind costumes for performers to wear, costuming in movies is about building a character the audience can relate to. Fashion is one of many tools used to build a character and generate a connection to the audience. Today’s fashion-forward stars make their mark in film and on the red carpet, their fashion choices creating a stir wherever they go. As costume design continues to evolve, the film industry continues to influence the style choices of audiences worldwide.

Invite a ‘Black Swan’ or ‘Fighter’ to your Oscar party

Make the Oscars your night on the red carpet, too, by hosting an Oscar theme party. This is becoming a more popular practice among star struck movie lovers. With a little planning, it’s easy to pull together, and it’s destined to be a night you and your friends will remember long after the awards have been handed out and the curtains have closed.

With the recent announcement of nominees, you can customize your party to some of this year’s prospects. You can plan your evening around one movie, or use all the ideas listed below for a real blockbuster night.

The Black Swan makes for some creative decorations. Wrap the backs of your chairs up in black tulle and tie them with some black ribbon to really set the mood. Encourage your guests to don black boas, and if they’re really into it, they can sport tutus and fake blood. As for the gents, they can come dressed in their finest– ready to watch the ballet. Top hats and tuxedos get bonus points.

You can wow your guests with a cake in the spirit of The Fighter. Make it look like two boxing gloves at the point of contact by using two round cakes, with a bit cut out to make the thumb of the glove, and small squares at the wrists. Then frost the cake red and use white frosting to make the laces.

Obviously, the main part of the evening is to actually watch the Oscars, so a large part of the evening is going to be spent in front of the TV. A quiet game inspired by The Social Network will be a perfect fit for intermittent mingling. Have everyone bring a few photos of themselves to post up around the room. Leave out several Sharpies and pads of sticky notes so your guests can “comment” under their friends’ action shots.

You can go crazy with the Blue Valentine theme. You can pretty much dye anything edible – blue drinks, blue cake, blue popcorn – but if food coloring isn’t your thing, stick with the decorations. You can put non-flammable plastic wrap over your lights and splash the room with blue confetti.

Whatever movie theme you choose for Oscar night, your party wouldn’t be complete without a red carpet. Roll out a long, red piece of fabric for your arriving guests, and announce their arrival to the eager crowd, and even go as far as handing out awards to the winners.  Top it off with a photo shoot – take a Polaroid while they strike a pose.

However you decide to structure your evening, don’t forget to tune in for the real thing on February 27 at 8 pm on ABC. See you on the carpet!

Vintage Costume Jewelry: Timeless Pieces

Since Ancient times, costume jewelry has been a popular alternative to fine jewelry. A great way to accessorize without spending a fortune, costume jewelry was made more popular throughout the early 20th Century, as designers like Coco Chanel would revolutionize the market with a fresh approach to its design. Once these designs became readily available, women everywhere fell in love with this affordable way to accessorize.

Timeline and Influences

One can hardly utter the words “vintage costume jewelry” without thinking of the influence of designer Coco Chanel. A “vintage” item refers to one that was created from 1920 to 1980. Chanel’s influence on costume jewelry began in the 30s when she wanted to give women access to affordable jewelry that looked luxurious. Coco herself often wore costume jewelry, which is why she not only revolutionized its design, but also influenced more women to wear it. Her ability to show women how to transform a little black dress with the right choice in costume jewelry made Coco Chanel vintage jewelry’s greatest influence.

Other jewelry makers would also enter the market as the style became more popular. In the mid-20th Century, jewelry maker 1928 would enter the market with offerings of costume jewelry meant to replicate antique items. Avon would later follow suit, giving women access to iconic jewelry pieces through their unique door-to-door sales approach. As more celebrities were being seen with costume jewelry as the focal point of their look, its popularity continued to rise.

Trendsetters and Fashion Icons

Thinking of stars like Joan Collins and Elizabeth Taylor immediately brings to mind a luxurious lifestyle. These two icons are notorious for their contributions to not only the entertainment field, but also to the world of vintage costume jewelry. Always known for their sense of style, these two stars have been enjoying costume jewelry on sets and red carpets for many years. They have encouraged women to enjoy the versatility that can only be found in this affordable alternative to fine jewelry.

Along with Coco Chanel, who is considered costume jewelry’s biggest influence, many movie stars have also taken part in the growing popularity of this trend. Today’s wealthiest stars are often seen with costume jewelry at the industry’s biggest events. Chanel’s take on costume jewelry as a tool used to make women more beautiful is carried on today, with many new jewelry makers giving women access to affordable styles that will enhance any look. Vintage costume jewelry is more desirable than ever today, with many jewelers offering replicas of popular vintage pieces. Including vintage items in your wardrobe of costume jewelry is a great way to add interest and versatility.

Experience Quintessential Fandom at a Convention

Pack your things, dig out those costumes, and leave the real world behind– you’re heading off to a convention!

For many, the idea of attending a convention brings forth cringeworthy thoughts involving sitting in a musty room, and having to listen to a monotonous speaker share his experience on how the latest software increased his company’s revenue. Luckily, there are a slew of atypical conventions for gamers, book lovers, movie and tv fanatics alike (or those who just plain enjoy  dressing up in costume) that are worth shelling out money for. These fun-filled conventions are typically held over a weekend, starting early Friday morning and ending on Sunday evening. Within a span of three days you will be running around the convention to get to panels, events, and the Dealer’s Room, all designed to please the fans who are taking time to have some fun. I would like to point out that both dressing up in costume, as well as sleeping, is purely optional.

Conventions exist for a variety of genres and media. There are conventions dedicated to a specific fandom or for a general genre altogether. The most notable are ones for science fiction (such as: Star Trek, Star Wars, and Doctor Who), or for Japanese animation (or “anime” for short), and manga series. Fans come together at these events to have fun and enjoy three days dedicated to their favorite thing in life. It is here that famous icons for the convention’s theme show up to greet their fans, engage in discussions, and sign autographs (not always free though so make sure to have extra cash on hand).

Outside of the famous guests, there are more than enough events and panels for the fans to indulge in. But the highlight of every attendee’s trip is the chance to visit the Dealer’s Room. And just as the name implies, this is a massive market filled with booths that cater to your every addiction for your favorite series including: books, figurines, and DVD collections, to say the least.

Announcements are also a key event to these conventions. In particular, the major and more popular conventions will often times release insider information for the fans. For example, at the Comic Con in San Diego, California, one can expect major movie and television show announcements; typically accompanied by trailers or video clips that debut for the very first time. Otakon and Animefest, two of the many anime conventions out there, will have announcements and video clips of the latest series coming out in both America and Japan.

Gallifrey One, a convention for Doctor Who fans, has shown sneak peaks and released information of the newest season to come to Britain that year. Even E3, a video gaming convention that allows only reviewers from magazines and websites to attend, are full of insider information for the fans. They just have to wait for the information to hit the Internet, but with Twitter and company websites these days, the wait is never for long.

Conventions continue to occur every year and will do so for as long as there are fans around to attend them. So, if you miss a particular convention one year, there’s no need to fret. After all, there’s always next year!

Face Off: Search for the Ultimate SFX Makeup Artist

The Premise

The magical and sometimes mystical realm of world-class special effects and make-up artistry brings viewers a new reality-competition series from SyFy–Face Off-which is set to debut on January 26, 2011. The premise of the show revolves around the often unrecognized artists who create truly amazing works of living art and possess near-unlimited imagination coupled with an extremely wide range of skill sets. The contestants in this exciting new program include a wide array of exceptionally talented, dynamic artists who will demonstrate their exceptional skills in a variety of areas in their trade, including prosthetics, 3-D design, animatronics, sculpting, eye enhancers, puppeteering, casting and molding. Each week the contestants will be asked to elaborate on the challenge, taking on such feats as designing full body paint make-up on models or creating their most innovative horror villain.

The Players

Image Credit: Isabella Vosmikova:Syfy

Actress McKenzie Westmore will host Face Off, bringing a true passion for the art of special effects to the table. Westmore’s great-grandfather, George, was a pioneer in the field of film and television make-up, and father Michael Westmore is the legendary make-up artist behind the Star Trek television series. SyFy has additionally signed illustrious makeup artists Ve Neill of Pirates of the Caribbean and Edward Scissorhands, Glen Hetrick of Heroes, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The X-Files as well as creature designer Patrick Tatopoulous of I am Legend, Independence Day, Underworld and Resident Evil:Extinction to serve as judges on the competition/elimination series of Face Off. Ve Neil is responsible for setting multiple standards of excellence in the make-up field, earning three Academy Awards, two Emmy Awards and four Saturn Awards over the course of her highly successful career. Fans will also remember her artistry in transforming Robin Williams into a Scottish nanny for Mrs. Doubtfire as well as her brilliance in the design and make-up of the myriad of villains, beauties and superheroes in the Batman film series.

The Drama

Each episode of Face Off will feature aspiring special effects artists, showcasing their finished works and granting viewers the dramatic build-up of one contestant being sent home each week by the celebrity judges. This intensely engaging show will culminate in one winner and one grand prize, sure to launch a winning career. Face Off producers have spent an exhausting year taking the casting search to major cities throughout the United States. Both professionals as well as novices in the special effects make-up field were considered when choosing what would ultimately boil down to twelve hopefuls for the 2011 show. Each contestant brings not only their individual style and talents to the show, but the hope that they have what it takes to be a top-flight makeup artist, grabbing the brass ring of Face Off. Tune in January 26, 2011 for a compelling sixty-minute show that will keep you glued to your seat in anticipation.

Iconic Christmas Films

Everyone has that tradition that they follow every year. For some, like myself, it involves crowding around the television with family and watching their favorite holiday movie under comfortable blankets. And seeing as there is no shortage of Christmas movies out there, the hardest part comes down to picking which one to watch. What always helps though is knowing that the classics can never steer you wrong, that much is always certain.

A film for the whole family to enjoy, right down to the little ones all wrapped up in their footie pajamas and clutching their stuffed animals, is How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Running for only 26 minutes, this book-turned-animated-movie was created by one of the greatest minds for children books, Dr. Seuss. A story that is simple and to the point, it’s not hard to see why this 1966 movie classic has captured the hearts of so many generations. Not to mention it’s extremely difficult to go wrong when you have Thurl Ravenscroft, the voice of Tony the Tiger, singing the infamous song “You’re A Mean One, Mister Grinch” or the legendary film actor, Boris Karloff, bringing life to the Grinch himself.

Or how about going back one year for the treasured, A Charlie Brown Christmas? The name of Charles M. Schulz is no stranger to anyone who has grown up with the Peanuts comics printed in the Sunday paper. Here is another opportunity for grandparents, parents, and kids alike to enjoy when they watch this piece of holiday spirit. This is another short film at 25 minutes but the length of a movie does not make it what it is; it is the story of learning the spirit of Christmas for what it is. It also helps that the musical score is composed by none other than Vince Guaraldi, a composer behind all the soundtracks for the Charlie Brown films.

Miracle on 34th Street is a movie that will warm your heart and remind you that no one is ever too old to believe. When the original mall-Santa is found drunk and completely unreliable, an old gentleman by the name of Kris Kringle is taken in to fill the position. And with commercialism running wildly rampant, people easily forget just what it means to celebrate Christmas. This is the lesson that Kris Kringle hopes to teach a Macy’s executive named Doris Walker as her daughter, Susan, sees that perhaps the story of Santa Claus may not be a silly story after all.

And during this time of hope and cheer, there are still some who may lose their hope and faith when times are looking grim. For one such fellow, George Bailey, he sees everything he has worked so hard to preserve in his hometown begin to fall apart. He blames himself and starts wondering if it would be better for all if he simply ceased to exist. It’s a Wonderful Life was released back in 1946 and has since become one of the biggest Christmas movie icons to date. Witnessing a man struggle with his own inner turmoil, while his friends and loved ones want only for him to forgive himself. Their love for him manifests into a guardian angel who, in turn, shows George what life would be like for those in a world without him.

When in doubt, though, if you haven’t any idea what movie to settle on, you can never go wrong with A Christmas Carol. Originally a classic tale written by Charles Dickens, over the decades the novella has been adapted to various versions made for movies, television, radio, and theater. To date, the most recent movie rendition was released in 2009, a computer animated film starring Jim Carrey as the voice of the famous bah-humbug of a man by the name of Ebenezer Scrooge, as well as the three ghosts, by Disney. For a family viewing, I would recommend either The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) staring Kermit the Frog and his pals, or Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983), which is filled with recognizable Disney characters. While those two are geared towards younger audiences, these are the ones that can be enjoyed by different generations because of the nostalgic feel that come with their versions in their story-telling.

Harry Potter and the Ever Growing Fanbase

Harry Potter has always been known as the boy who lived. And now he is known for leading one of the biggest, most popular franchises in the history of entertainment.

What started as a seven book series has spanned out to an eight-movie collection that inspired the creation of wizard rock that includes: over 750 bands, musicals, theme park rides, books on the philosophy of it all, pod casts, role-playing games, fan sites, film documentaries, conventions, tours, even live Quidditch Matches such as the one held in New York from November 13th to the 14th of this year. Pottermania has spread throughout the world and has enchanted the fans for not just now, but for years, if not decades, to come.

And now, for over ten years already, this is a series of books that has captured our attention and entertained us as readers with the world that JK Rowling has created. But what makes this series so popular? What is it about these books that make us want to follow a teenage boy through puberty, awkward relationships, and endure the periods of emo that we’ve already gone through when we were in high school?

It’s the magic, that’s why.

These books are an escape from the ordinary and reality all together. Opening one of these books allows you, the reader, the opportunity to experience a world that lights up the imagination. While it’s no literary masterpiece, these books still manage to charm adults and children alike. There aren’t any flying pick-up trucks, chocolate frogs that jump around, or time-traveling devices in our world; although it has certainly inspired us to try and bring them to life! A number of high schools and Universities have started their own Quidditch teams and candy companies have made so many of the treats a reality they could easily open up a Honeydukes!

It’s the creativity of these tales that get us caught up in his adventures. You become so involved with the story that you become attached to, not just Harry, but his friends and the entire cast of the books. When someone passes away you shed tears, and when someone does something completely despicable you just want to reach into the book and smack them around a bit (looking at you, Umbridge).

It’s fun to get away from your life for just a little while. Books make for the perfect, not to mention inexpensive, little vacation from stress and work. So sitting back with your favorite beverage and opening up a book –or pulling up the file if you happen to use an electronic book—is ideal for one’s alone time. And with Harry Potter, you can enjoy that alone time with a good story filled with humor, drama, adventure, and entertainment. Ranking up there with CS Lewis’ “Chronicles of Narnia”, it is one the most well known fantasy book series that both parents and children have enjoyed. You know a series will stand the test of time when old hardcover copies are so worn from constant rereading that you have to go out to replace it before it falls apart.