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The 13th Annual Costume Designers Guild Awards Honor Costumes in Film

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The program cover from the Costume Designers Guild Award Gala  (photo : M.Hall from the program )

Last night the13th Annual Costume Designers Guild Awards (CDGA) were announced at a star-studded gala at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.  The event featured stunning fashions and A-list stars (Halle Berry, Samuel L. Jackson, Demi Moore)  but was surprisingly informal and fun. The very charming and extremely approachable Kristin Davis hosted the awards with all the good manners and niceties that her character Charlotte York from Sex and the City is known for. At one point she reminded the audience how refreshing it was to hear the  costume designers accept their awards in their own words and with heartfelt emotion.  After all, the awards honor talented designers who work behind the camera, and don't usually get to step out front. 

In the film industry, costume design is such an important and often overlooked field.  Costumes help to define a character and inform an actor's portrayal.  Stressing the importance of costumes in film, honoree Joel Schumacher noted, "Where would Marilyn be without the white dress, Indiana Jones without the hat, Tom Cruise without his tidy whities or Scarlett without the drapes?"  "Clothing, even a house dress, becomes part of the character," noted Mr. Schumacher who started his career as a costume designer and later became an award winning writer and director.  Mr. Schumacher received the Distinguished Collaborator Award from Bill Maher.

Pictured: Jenny Beavan won an award for Excellence in Period Film for The King's Speech . (photo : M.Hall from the program )

The following talented costume designers were honored in these categories:

Excellence in contemporary film Black Swan - Amy Westcott
Excellence in period film The King's Speech - Jenny Beavan
Excellence in fantasy film Alice in Wonderland - Colleen Atwood
Outstanding contemporary television series Glee - Lou Eyrich
Outstanding period/fantasy television series Boardwalk Empire - John Dunn & Lisa Padovani
Outstanding made for television movie or mini series Temple Grandin - Cindy Evans
Excellence in commercial costume design Chanel - Bleu de Chanel - Aude Bronson‐Howard

Five honorary awards were  also presented at the Awards Gala. This year, the Guild honored Halle Berry, Academy Award-winning actress and Golden Globe nominee for her film Frankie and Alice, with the newly titled Lacoste Spotlight Award.   Berry was presented the award by Samuel L. Jackson.  Two-time Oscar nominee and multiple Emmy winning costume designer Julie Weiss was given the Disaronno Career Achievement Award in Film and Television Award.  A montage highlighting her extraordinary career was introduced by designer favorites Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore. The award itself was presented by Robert Duvall, Billy Bob Thornton and Diane Lane. After the tributes and funny stories about Ms. Weiss ended, she took the stage and offered some of the best advice of the evening to attendees and members of the Guild.   "Don't worry about the budget," Ms. Weiss told the crowd. "You can't budget the imagination."  She noted that the magical moment for her in the costume design process is when the actor puts on the costumes and "becomes the character."

Pictured: Halle Berry modestly bowing her head before accepting her award. (Photo M. Hall)

It will be interesting to see   how many of the designers move forward to win Oscars this Sunday at the Academy Awards.  Typically, the  CDGAs are a good predictor of the Oscar race.  As for fashion, Halle Berry looked beautiful in a red Ellie Saab gown and Kristin Davis wore a strapless white Oscar de la Renta gown with polka dots. Ginnifer Goodwin from HBO's Big Love also looked great on the Red Carpet, and I caught her right before the awards started.

Pictured: Big Love's Ginnifer Goodwin on the Red Carpet. (photo: M. Hall)

Stay tuned for Sunday's Oscars for more award winners in the field of costume design for film. I'm hoping The King's Speech can maintain its winning streak. Click here to see Huffington Post's gallery of photos of the stars in their designer gowns at the Gala.