“Little Women” wins Oscar for best costume design


Illustration by: Yasmin Haq

Among many nominations, “Little Women” took home an Oscar for best costume design by Jacqueline Durran on Feb. 9. By channeling inspiration from the 1860s and brilliant color pallets to reflect individual characters, Durran brought a timeless movie to life with amazing costuming. This award was obviously well deserved. 

This movie focused heavily on portraying themes about empowering women and addressing issues related to the time period, such as marriage representing an economic proposition for young girls. With a strong female cast, including five leading ladies, this film uses intricate costume designs to enhance the plot and create a unique style for each character. They use the contrasts of the March family’s upper middle class attire compared to the expensive threads of their close companion Laurie [Timothee Chalamet] to highlight economic status of the 1800s.

The story of the March family takes place over several years and shows the sisters transitioning from adolescence to adulthood through flashbacks. While time jumps can be confusing, the drastically different wardrobes make the setting clear at all times. Durran created an individual color palette for each character that follows them throughout the span of the movie: their younger selves wear lighter shades and their older selves wear darker ones. This contrast shows a distinctive character development throughout the film by depicting each March sister at a separate time in their life. 

I also have to give an honourable mention to the main leading lady Saoirse Ronan, who plays Jo March, for taking the amazing wardrobe off screen and promoting sustainability at the Oscars red carpet. She reused the fabric from a previous award show gown to construct a beautiful dress for the red carpet event to promote the recycling of older materials, as opposed to creating an entirely new outfit for one event. 

“Little Women” is my current favorite movie for many reasons, most of them being Timothee Chalamet, but the intricate wardrobe does set this film apart from others. Despite the numerous Oscar snubs, this movie did a great job of portraying a significant time period and social issues in history though delicate details and precise clothing choices.