2024 Costume Designers Guild Awards Raises Questions About Diversity

David Lee/Netflix

Earlier this week, The Color Purple costume designer Francine Jamison-Tanchuck was honored at the 26th annual Costume Designers Guild Awards. She took home the Career Achievement Award at NeueHouse in Hollywood, California for her dedication to costuming films throughout her 50 years in the business. She has worked on 60 movies including Regina King’s excellent film One Night In Miami, Michael B. Jordan’s Just Mercy, Birth of a Nation, White Men Can’t Jump, and many others. Her value is irreversible, especially in the period pieces she has contributed to–her work has pushed the envelope and paid homage to political figures such as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King (One Night In Miami).

Jamison-Tanchuck’s win while it was a shining moment was the sole call-out to a Black designer who received a moment to shine. This opens up a larger discussion on what is considered to be excellent for a few of the categories that were centered: period films, contemporary films, contemporary television, and period television. A few projects come to mind that would have fit well amongst these categories include Air, Rustin, Survival Of The Thickest, and You People. Each designer who dedicated themselves to these works deserved at least a nomination in their respective categories. But, instead, Barbie, Poor Little Things, and Saltburn received awards. A Black Lady Sketch Show’s Michelle Page Collins also received a win in the excellence in variety, reality-television, live television category.

2024 Costume Designers Guild Awards Raises Questions About Diversity
David Lee/Netflix

Charlese Antoinette Jones who was the lead costumer for Air also helmed the wardrobe for Judas And The Black Messiah and also I Wanna Dance With Somebody. Her period work is striking and Air was no different. Antoinette Jones deserves her flowers for how she flipped an ‘80s wardrobe and brought it into the present. Tracksuits, athleisure items, and modern sneakers were utilized for the sports drama. For the 2023 film, Antoinette Jones worked with the main cast to portray the months leading up to Michael Jordan’s iconic Jordan deal that ricocheted throughout the sportswear industry. Air starred Viola Davis, who portrayed Michael Jordan’s mother, Deloris Jordan, Ben Affleck who portrayed Nike founder and former CEO Phil Knight, and also Matt Damon as Nike executive Sonny Vaccaro.

George C. Wolfe’s Rustin was led by lead costume designer Toni-Leslie James. The Netflix film featuring Colman Domingo as the titular character provided a history lesson on who Bayard Rustin is. He’s not quite a household name, but the freedom fighter and activist who was also queer deserved a fictional biopic. Leslie James captured the aesthetics of what Rustin’s wardrobe may have looked like leading up to the March On Washington. She also expertly pieced together memorable suits for Aml Ameen who portrayed Martin Luther King, Chris Rock (Roy Wilkins), and Glynn Turman (A. Philip Randolph). The chic period costuming for Carra Patterson’s Coretta Scott King was spot-on too.

2024 Costume Designers Guild Awards Raises Questions About Diversity

What Keia Bounds was able to accomplish with Survival Of The Thickest also deserves recognition. Michelle Buteau shined in many scenes in the comedy series highlighting a difficult era for a stylist based in New York City. The fashionable looks Bounds executed are praiseworthy.

Each of these works provides examples of additional projects that could have been spotlighted when nominations were handed out. Yet, the costume designers didn’t receive any acknowledgment. We’re unaware of the politics that could have stood in the way of nominations, but their tireless efforts and prowess deserved to be spotlighted. These are also not the only projects that could have been highlighted, other stellar films launched last year too. The lack of diversity amongst the winners and those who received nods is problematic. Acknowledging Black costumers and designers should be the norm and not strictly saved for lifetime achievement or career awards. These creatives deserve their flowers throughout their careers.

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