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And the Oscar goes to. . .

Posted on 01/11/2016 by Judy Ross

As time for the Academy Awards approaches, we are drawn to details that make Oscar-winning films so memorable—including the extraordinary costumes that bring cinematic characters to life.

Our Fashionable Romance: Wedding Gowns in Film exhibition beginning February 12 gives you the opportunity to take a closer look at costumes from seven films nominated for an Academy Award in Costume Design—including two Oscar winners!The Duchess wedding

Anthony Powell is an English costume designer and three-time Oscar winner; his interpretation of 19th-century attire for Tess was honored with the Academy Award in 1980. The wedding dress he created for Tess Durbyfield (played by Nastassja Kinski), is displayed in Biltmore’s Carriage House. Powell has been nominated for six Academy Awards; his other wins came for 1972’s Travels with My Aunt and 1978’s Death on the Nile.

Another English costume designer—Michael O’Connor—won the Academy Award in 2008 for The Duchess, where he created 30 different gowns for Keira Knightley in her role as Georgiana Cavendish, the Duchess of Devonshire. The clothing styles reflected the Duchess’ celebrity status as the center of glamorous English society of the time, and range from the elaborate gown worn for her wedding to simpler dresses in later years; you can see examples of both styles exhibited in the Banquet Hall. O’Connor was also a nominee in 2011 for Jane Eyre and in 2013 for The Invisible Woman.

The Fashionable Romance exhibition also includes costumes from five other films whose costume designers were nominated for Academy Awards in Costume Design:Out of Africa wedding dress

  • Out of Africa, 1985; designed by Milena Canonero, a nine-time nominee and four-time Oscar winner for Barry Lyndon, Chariots of Fire, Marie Antoinette, and The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Howard’s End, 1992 and Sense and Sensibility, 1995; designed by Jenny Beavan and John Bright, six-time nominees who won the Academy Award for A Room with A View
  • Emma, 1996; designed by Ruth Myers, two-time nominee
  • Hamlet, 1996: Alexandra Byrne, four-time nominee and Oscar winner for Elizabeth: The Golden Age


Top: Hayley Atwell as Lady Elizabeth Foster and Keira Knightley as Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire in The Duchess. Copyright 2008 Courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

Left: Ralph Fiennes and Keira Knightley as the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire in The Duchess. Copyright 2008 Courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

Right: Meryl Streep as Karen Blixen in Out of Africa. Copyright 1985 Universal Pictures Limited. Courtesy of Universal Studios Licensing LLC.

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