Angela Bassett and Christina Ricci led the parade of celebs who supported the Costume Designers Guild, which is usually a robust fashion evening celebrating a crucial part of entertainment. This year, a couple costume designers went all in on the messaging that the actors would be naked without them — a slogan they’ve chosen in light of ongoing payment inequity conversations. From THR:
“As a costume designer, I think it’s very important for people to understand that we are the lowest paid out of the department heads that are the triad for the director,” costume designer Deirdra Govan (Harlem) told THR. “And the wage gap, the one-to-one comparison between a costume designer and production designer, is quite significant. So, the pay equity battle that we’ve been mounting for some time is really how to close that gap and share our value and the importance that we bring and the impact that our designs have on popular culture and beyond.”
“Naked Without Us” is a good slogan because it’s basically TRUE. Or at least, in most cases. Do I believe Tom Cruise has accurate military flight suits hanging in his closet that he could use in a pinch? Yes. But do I think Stephanie Hsu had enough lying around her house to cobble together a costume in which she’s dressed as a regal bagel overlord? NAY. One of the few things that worked in Don’t Worry Darling was the look of the film, and costumes played heavily into that; don’t even get me started on a Wakanda without Ruth Carter and her team. Costumes are an essential element of world-building. Imagine if The Power of the Dog had no costume squad, and Buttonsstitch Cummerbund had to rely on Wranglers, or Kristen Dunst was stuck trying to emote in Vuori joggers and archival Rodarte. It doesn’t work. We need these artists. All of them. Pay them!
Sidebar: I found this document on a local union website laying out the different roles in the costume department, and there are probably a lot more than you might imagine. There’s also, per the guild website, the job of costume illustrator — the person who makes those gorgeous concept sketches, kind of like storyboard artists do with scenes for a director. It’s a big team.