20th CDGA Honors Shape of Water, Wonder Woman and I, Tonya
The 20th Annual CDGA (Costume Designers Guild Awards) celebrated excellence in film, television, and short form costume design. Actress Gina Rodriguez hosted the star-studded, fabulously attired event at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, CA. In her opening remarks the actress stressed the important role costumes and costume designers play in helping actors transform themselves.
“To me, acting is the ability to escape and transform into another reality. I used to do this by myself at the age of five, making my own costumes and creating my own reality,” shared Rodriguez. “Four years ago I shot a pilot that gave me a playground to transform daily. On Jane the Virgin I met my costume designer hero, Rachel Sage Kunin…Costumes help actors bring characters to life.”
In accepting her award for Excellence in Contemporary Television for The Handmaid’s Tale, Ane Crabtree voiced her support for the #MeToo movement, “It’s a great time to be a woman. It’s a great time to be a multi-racial person. It’s a great time for costume design. And for making change.”
CDG President, Salvador Perez spoke about the creative legacy of costume designers, but also noted that the Costume Designers Guild is “first and foremost a labor union.” Along with the other guilds in IATSE, the costume designers are part of a strong and powerful group in a politically charged world with a government that is trying to break unions apart. The audience responded with positive shouts and applause when Perez charged, “We must stand together, united to protect our rights and ensure we always have a safe workplace.”
Because union organizations are not allowed to support political PACS, Perez suggested, “We must support them on an individual basis. If everyone in this room gave just $10 a month, we could raise $110,000 a year to support politicians who share our vision and who will fight for us.” He acknowledged CDG members’ backing of the #TimesUp movement, including designing a logo and pins that many in the industry wear in support of change, and pledged that the union “will continue to ensure that you have the resources you deserve and the protection you need.”
Perez went on to present jeweler/metalworker Maggie Schpak with the Distinguished Service Award that honors someone whose specialties and talents contribute to the craft and art of Costume Design. On receiving her trophy, Schpak exclaimed, “This is so cool!”
Academy Award-winning costume designer John Mollo was posthumously inducted into the Guild’s Hall of Fame by actor Mark Hamill who paid tribute to the iconic designer. Hamill noted, “John Mollo and I have one big thing in common. We both got our start on a film called Star Wars. John walked away with an Oscar and I of course ended up on lunchboxes and bubble gum cards. I could mention, I am also a Pez dispenser, but I don’t want to be boastful.”
The Distinguished Collaborator Award honors individuals who demonstrate unwavering support of costume design and creative partnerships with costume designers. In introducing the recipient of the honor, producer/writer/director Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water actor, Doug Jones – who over twenty years and seven projects has played eleven of the director’s creatures – quipped that his tombstone could read, “del Toro’s favorite monster.” On a more serious note the actor stated, “Every once in forever an artist comes along with such a unique vision offering something so new and unexpected that we stop and say, ‘What the heck was that?’ The world makes precious few of these visionaries.”
The film’s Oscar nominated costume designer, Luis Sequeira, was on hand to present the special award. He confirmed that Jones’ speech on the collaboration with del Toro expressed what everyone on the crew felt about working with the director, adding that he could “go on for an hour about the wonderful attributes of this truly unique visionary, but he was warned these things go on a little too long…What I can say on a personal note is that for my team and I, the collaborative process was not only deeply satisfying, but ultimately rewarding.”
In accepting his award, del Toro remarked that he loves working with costume designers, “I’m always in awe. I’m always finding a very rich collaboration based on limits, because I think true freedom is not limitless. What a director can do is create visual, thematic storytelling. Then you can let everybody be free to follow their own instincts…Your work, which is our work, is storytelling.”
Recognizing her extraordinary body of work and contributions to filmmaking, costume designer Joanna Johnston was presented the Career Achievement Award by producer Kathleen Kennedy (Star Wars: The Last Jedi).
In a surprise appearance, Sally Field brought a bag with samples of Johston’s work onstage with her. The actress had the bed jacket she wore in Forrest Gump, which Johnston had specially knit by a local woman. Field also produced a quilt made of fabric samples from each dress Johnston constructed for Field’s character, Mary Todd Lincoln, in the Spielberg film, Lincoln.
Eva Longoria, and Scandal Costume Designer, Lyn Paolo, made the special presentation Spotlight Award to actress Kerry Washington. The award honors an actor whose talent and career personify an enduring commitment to excellence, including a special awareness of the role and importance of Costume Design. Having worked seven seasons with Washington, Paolo called the actress “the most stunningly gracious collaborator that any costume designer can have…Your love of costume design and of the process of storytelling, which we talk about all the time in our fitting room, all of that is self-evident in your body of work.”
Other presenters included Lily Tomlin (Actress, Grace and Frankie), Rachel Brosnahan (Actress, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), Anna Camp (Actress, Pitch Perfect 3), Brooklyn Decker (Actress, Grace and Frankie), Wilson Cruz (Actor, Star Trek: Discovery), Tony Hale (Actor, Veep), Colton Haynes (Actor, Arrow), Marin Hinkle (Actress, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), Sarah Hyland (Actress, Modern Family), June Diane Raphael (Actress, Grace and Frankie), Keala Settle (Actress, The Greatest Showman), Rufus Sewell (Actor, The Man in the High Castle and Victoria), and Sonequa Martin-Green (Actress, Star Trek: Discovery).