Female Costume Designers That Shaped Fashion in Film and Television

What do the films Black Panther and Alice in Wonderland have in common? Their extravagant costumes were designed by remarkable women.


Ruth E. Carter
Ruth E. Carter

Born April 10th, 1960, Ruth E. Carter has created looks for over 40 films in her impressive 30 year career. She graduated from Hampton University in 1982 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree.

Ms. Carter has received three Academy Awards nominations for Best Costume Design for her work on films such as Amistad, Malcom X, and Black Panther, which she won and became the first African American to win an Academy Award in this category.

Ruth has received honors from Critics Choice, Essence, Costume Designers Guild, American Black Film Festival, and Suffolk University, to name a few.

“Costumes are the first impression that you have of the character before they open their mouth. It really does establish who they are.”

Colleen Atwood
Colleen Atwood

Born September 24th, 1948, Colleen Atwood has designed costumes for multiple films and frequently collaborates with directors Tim Burton, Jonathan Demme, and Rob Marshall. She studied painting at Cornish College of the Arts in the early 1970s and later worked in retail.

Ms. Atwood has been nominated for and Academy Award for Best Costume Design an astounding twelve times, and has won the award four times for her work on the films Chicago, Memoirs of Geisha, Alice in Wonderland, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Ms. Atwood also has received multiple Emmy and BAFTA awards and nominations or her fabulous costume design.

“I’m an accidental designer. There’s nothing in my background that makes sense for me becoming a costume designer.”

Ane Crabtree
Ane Crabtree

Born in South Dakota and raised in Kentucky, Ane Crabtree is well known for her work on the dystopian series The Handmaid’s Tale. She studied fine arts at Harlaxton College in Lincolnshire, England, as well as fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.

Ms. Crabtree has been nominated for two Emmy’s and won a Costume Designers Award for her iconic costumes for The Handmaid’s Tale.

Ane is designing and producing for Utopia Road, a film starring Ewan McGregor, Anjelica Huston, and Rebecca Hall.

“I wanted to be an artist. My mother was an artist and taught. She was a tremendous influence on me. She had a huge pair of scissors, and at the age of 1, I was cutting out paper dolls, and everybody who came to the house thought I was going to hurt myself. My mother said, No, I’ve taught her, and she knows that if she does something she shouldn’t, the scissors will be taken away.”

Alice Estes Davis
Alice Estes Davis

Born March 26th, 1929, Alice Estes Davis is most famous for her costume work for the Walt Disney Company. She worked closely with Mr. Disney himself, and developed costumes for television, film, and theme parks.

Ms. Davis possessed an obvious talent for art in high school, and therefore received a scholarship from the Long Beach Art Association to study at the Chouinard Art Institute. Originally wanting to study animation, but was unable to due to the timing of WWII, Chouinard got her into the next available opening they had, which was costume design.

Ms. Davis received the Disney Legends award in 2004 as well as a June Foray award in 2014. Without her, I truly believe that the Disney Company’s television shows, films, and parks wouldn’t be the same today.

The film and television industry wouldn’t be the same without these talented women. I admire them for their hard work, drive, and endless creativity.

Published by Rebekah

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