Piero Gherardi and Irene Sharaff with their Oscars at the 1962 Academy Awards (Eddie Albert on right).
The category for Costume Design at the Academy Awards came rather late - 1949 (for movies released in 1948). The Awards had already been going on for 20 years without any recognition to the talented people who designed the clothes that women and men alike coveted and that transported the viewer to another time and place, or at least, away from their dreary existence as the films of the 1930s did or from violence and war in the 1940s.
Naturally, every costume designer in Hollywood was delighted when a category just for them was announced. Since the Awards were so well established by then, and the suspense that the use of the Envelope brought, it made it all the more exciting.
Last year I covered the years 1949 - 1960. You can view that post here. This year, once again for the Fifth Annual 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon hosted by Paula's Cinema Club, Once Upon A Screen, and Outspoken & Freckled, I bring you the years 1961 - 1977.
*I have not seen all of these films so if you see a costume that doesn't belong, please let me know.
1961 (the 33rd Academy Awards Ceremony)
From 1961 to 1967, the Academy would continue to give a Costume Award in the two categories of color and black and white. The Oscar for the best black and white costume went to Edith Head and Edward Stevenson for the 1960 film The Facts of Life starring Lucille Ball and Bob Hope (remember, the awards ceremony were held in February of 1961 and honored films from the previous year). Edith Head wouldn't win another award until 1974. It would be her last win (two more nominations in 1976 and 1978).
Spartacus, costumed by Arlington Valles and Bill Thomas and with Kirk Douglas leading the star-studded cast, would win the color category. The winner of color costumes almost always came from a period film or musical, while the black and white category was usually a contemporary film.
The winner in the black and white category the following year went to Piero Gherardi for the Italian film La Dolce Vita starring Anita Ekberg. It was his first Oscar.
When your sunglasses are on point ;)
It was the macabre costumes of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? that took the Oscar the following year in the black and white category. Famously starring Hollywood rivals Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, Norma Koch created the costumes of the iconic film.
The color category winner was Mary Wills in The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm.
Barbara Eden & Yvette Mimieux
It was another foreign film in the black and white category that won at the 36th Academy Awards with Piero Gherardi winning his second Oscar for 8½.
As had been the case two years earlier, Irene Sharaff also won another Oscar, along with Renie Conley and Vittorio Nino Novarese for Cleopatra starring real-life lovers Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
It was Dorothy Jeakins for The Night of the Iguana that won black and white the next year. The film starred Richard Burton, Ava Gardner, and Deborah Kerr.
Beating out Mary Poppins and the 85+ costumes (for Shirley MacLaine alone) in What a Way to Go!, the winner in the color category was My Fair Lady. Nearly everyone knows and loves the costumes to this iconic film. They were designed by famed photographer Cecil Beaton (photographed many many movie stars as well as famous people like Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the Royal Family), who also won and Oscar for his costumes in Gigi a few years earlier.
Cecil Beaton and Hepburn
I love Mrs. Higgins hat ♥
Darling, starring Julie Christie and with costumes by Julie Harris won black and white.
Phyllis Dalton won the color award for her costumes in Doctor Zhivago, which takes place in Russia (we're talking lots of fur coats) and stars Omar Sharif, Julie Christie, and silent star Charlie Chaplin's daughter Geraldine.
The black and white film Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? brought Irene Sharaff yet another Oscar. It would be her fifth and final win with three more nominations.
A Man for All Seasons with costumes by Elizabeth Haffenden and Joan Bridge won the color category.
The 1968 Academy Awards, honoring films made in 1967, was the first year that the color and black and white categories were combined. This meant that there were less nominations, down from 10 to 5. The winner at the 40th Academy Awards was John Truscott for Camelot, beating out the classic costumes in Bonnie and Clyde and the eye-catching costumes of Thoroughly Modern Millie. The film starred Richard Harris and Vanessa Redgrave as King Arthur and Guinevere.
Truscott with the wedding gown
The cape had hundreds of bleached pumpkin seeds sewn on like pearls. The dress was covered by crocheted lace.
I am going to stop here merely because as the sixties came to a close, the last costume designers of the Golden period of Hollywood were nearing retirement. Edith Head would win her final Oscar for The Sting at the 1974 Awards and be nominated twice more for The Man Who Would Be King (1975) and two years later for Airport '77 (Star Wars with costumes by John Mollo won). That same year would also give Irene Sharaff her final nomination for The Other Side of Midnight (1977).
You can view the Costume Design winners for every year of the Academy Awards here.