2018 has been an impressive year for genre in film and television. Newcomers have wowed us, while old favorites have reinforced their beloved status. Reboots and remakes are part of the Hollywood landscape, but a number of the Best Dressed TV and movie characters featured in our Top 10 rundown are making these iconic characters their own.
The love affair between genre and fashion goes back to Metropolis continuing on the runway in 2018. It is not surprising, then, to see how current trends impact costume design, while movies and television also inform collections from fashion designers. This Top 10, presented in no particular order, includes looks that have been inspired by couture, technological revolutions, and outfits that might just influence your own style choices.
Honorable mentions go to the twist on Final Girl attire in the new Halloween, Hope van Dyne’s (Evangeline Lilly) cropped pants and boots look in Ant-Man and the Wasp, Michelle Williams running toward danger in Venom wearing a very ‘90s plaid mini skirt, survival knitwear chic in A Quiet Place, and Annie’s (Toni Collette) minimalist linen Hereditary wardrobe. On TV, Tulip’s (Ruth Negga) leather and florals on Preacher, the Doctor’s (Jodie Whittaker) charity shop bought new look, and the twist on funeral attire in Riverdale and The Handmaid’s Tale also just miss the cut.
Queen Ramonda (Black Panther) - Most Regal
Crowns come in all shapes and sizes, but none are quite as dramatic as Queen Ramonda’s (Angela Bassett) in Black Panther. Costume designer Ruth E. Carter based this design on a hat worn by married South African Zulu women. To get the perfect shape she enlisted the help of 3-D printing fashion expert Julia Koerner, who used cutting-edge technology to create the perfect shape. Royal attire is crafted to perfection using 3-D printing, including matching African-lace infused mantle (as seen here). Looking to the past, present and future in the references cited and methods make Queen Ramonda's costuming a marvel (no pun intended) to behold. The Black Panther cast both on and off screen is the best dressed of 2018.
Domino (Deadpool 2) - The DGAF Award
Zazie Beetz as Domino is the best thing about Deadpool 2 — including her withering glances and impressive fighting skills. Her leather ensemble by costume designers Kurt & Bart has an edgy aesthetic to match Domino’s choice of transportation and her general outlook. Domino exudes confidence right down to a detail we don’t typically see in a big blockbuster movie. It shouldn’t be considered a subversive act for an actress to display her armpits in their natural state, but here we are. What really stands out about Domino’s unshaved pits is the camera doesn’t linger nor does it purposefully avoid, Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) refrains from quipping about it. Maybe this is the first step in normalizing something everyone has.
Sugar Plum Fairy (The Nutcracker and the Four Realms) - Most on Brand
"Très chic" is one of several French phrases Sugar Plum Fairy (Keira Knightly ) throws around in The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. This frock is something you would probably see gracing the pages of a candy couture magazine. Oscar-winning costume designer Jenny Beavan has leaned into to the theme taking sartorial saccharine to the extreme. Sugar Plum also appears to be a long lost relative of Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks). Everything is pink and purple, the ruffles of her skirt resemble a clothing version of a cake from the showstopper challenge on The Great British Baking Show. Not only that, but Sugar Plum’s hair is made of cotton candy; perfect for when her blood sugar level is low.
Lando Calrissian (Solo) - Best Space Capes
The guy who has a whole room dedicated to his 30-plus cape collection was always going to be on our Top 10. It isn’t just about owning this spectacular array of outerwear, but knowing when and how to wear it. Lando has swag and charisma for days, the cape is just an extension of this. Costume designers Glynn Dillon and Dave Crossman turned to Jimi Hendrix, Marvin Gaye, and James Brown for inspiration in crafting Lando’s look. And he is definitely the rock star of Solo.
Detroit (Sorry to Bother You) - Strongest Statement Jewelry
There are statement earrings and then there are statement earrings. In Sorry to Bother You, Detroit (Tessa Thomspon) is a performance artist who delivers her message through a variety of mediums, including the clothes she wears. This year has featured different depictions of female rage on screen, and Detroit’s choice of jewelry speaks to how pissed off she is. A nod to the revolutionary spirit of Boots Riley’s debut, the earrings — with a font designed by children’s illustrator J. Otto-Seibold in a collaboration with costume designer Deirdra Govan — strike a balance between irreverence and anger. Plus, they look cool af.
Prudence Night (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) - Most Influential
Sabrina Spellman’s (Kiernan Shipka) closet is highly covetable, but it is Prudence’s (Tati Gabrielle) collection of lace collar gowns that is the Chilling Adventures standout. There is a reason why everyone (including Sabrina) wants to dress like her. An aesthetic that blends Edwardian, Victorian and ‘60s styling, Prudence’s school uniform is decade-blending fashion to aspire to. Prudence’s everyday attire is polished to perfection, but her Feast of Feasts gown is a stunning plunging offering that left us spellbound. With characters like Prudence, it is no wonder witches continue to influence the runway.
Olivia Crain (The Haunting of Hill House) - Fanciest Loungewear
The ghosts are a pain to put up with, but seeing Olivia Crain (Carla Gugino) glide through Hill House in various fancy gowns — or rather peignoirs — is enough to make you forget that little bothersome detail. From the sumptuous custom-made teal and burgundy versions by costume designer Lynn Falconer to the delicate floral green La Costa Del Agodon robe, Olivia’s doing at-home attire in luxurious boho style. Now if only those pesky spirits would leave her alone.
Annie Landsberg (Maniac) - Fabulous Fighting Fashion
One of the big 2018 red carpet trends is women in menswear-inspired attire. Women in suits are far from a new fad, but there has definitely been an uptick in the sheer volume of lady tuxes at big fancy events. Emma Stone wore Louis Vuitton pants to this year’s Oscars, with a silk blazer twist, but it is her red culottes ensemble in Maniac that deserves a style standing O. Paired with fishnet tights, at a first glance this appears to be a red skirt suit. But when Stone as Annie has to perform a number of fighting moves in an audacious single-shot sequence, it becomes clear costume designer Jenny Eagan has found a sensible — and still stylish — alternative for Annie to slide and kick in.
Esmé Squalor (A Series of Unfortunate Events) - Most Likely to Appear in Vogue
A new villain for the Baudelaire kids to watch out for in the second season of A Series of Unfortunate Events, but Esmé Squalor (Lucy Punch) upped the already super stylized stylish game of this Netflix series. It is hard to compete with Count Olaf (Neil Patrick Harris) doing his best Karl Lagerfeld, however, Esmé in Balmain-inspired exaggerated shoulders ensure all eyes are on her. Costume designer Cynthia Summers looks to the past, present and future — by using sustainable products where possible — all while injecting even more sartorial whimsy into this world.
Lucy Preston (Timeless) - Best Old Hollywood
On Timeless, Lucy (Abigail Spencer) has worn a number of outfits that could feature on this list including some fantastic early ‘80s spectacles. But it is the trip to Hollywood in the 1940s, which delivered a truly jaw-dropping costume recreation. Attending a fancy party requires fancy threads, Katharine Hepburn’s iconic white-and-gold dress from The Philadelphia Story seems like a good place to start and finish this hunt for the perfect gown. A swoon-worthy dress deserves an equally swoon-worthy moment, something Timeless definitely serves up in “Hollywoodland.”