Yes, The Great Gatsby’s costuming (which inspired real-life spinoffs by Brooks Brothers) and jewellery (outfitted by Tiffany & Co.) got a lot of buzz, but it’s the ultra-extravagant bash that Jay Gatsby throws in his Long Island mansion at the beginning of the film that really sets the action in motion. Reminiscent at times of a giant Busby Berkeley production, the soiree, at which narrator Nick Carraway and a cast of thousands are introduced to the grandiosity (and elusiveness) of their mysterious host, effectively establishes the tone for all the excess (and empty promises) that follow. Contrasted with Gatsby’s later attempt to woo old flame Daisy with a pretty little tea party, it makes his ultimate failure to do so all the more poignant. – Danny Sinopoli
The feisty transsexual with a heart of gold borders on cliché, but supporting-actor nominee Jared Leto inhabits his role as HIV-positive Rayon in the Reagan-era AIDS-and-drugs drama Dallas Buyers Club so fully – and with such panache – that he breathes fresh life into the stereotype. This is quite an accomplishment considering Rayon’s glam-rock look is also shopworn. Perhaps it’s the wide range of style icons reportedly channelled by Leto and his costume and makeup designers – everyone from Twiggy to the Warhol actress Jane Forth to 1980s rock queen Pat Benatar – that makes it so intriguing. In any case, both the actor and his dressers hit us with their best shot – and won. – D.S.
In The Great Beauty, the spellbinding foreign-language nominee from Italy, aging Roman gadfly Jep Gambardella (played with world-weary élan by Toni Servillo) makes his way from party to art happening to yet another party in a series of sumptuous linen suits and a profound state of ennui. Jep’s wardrobe, peppered liberally with gelato shades like lemon and persimmon, is both whimsical and ridiculous, suggesting his irredeemable slavishness to fashion as well as the sweetness that sets him apart from the cynical grotesques (hello, Fellini!) around him. Against the backdrop of his decaying metropolis, his end-of-life urbanity and his fashion choices are both incredibly sad and, well, greatly beautiful. – D.S.
Scent of a woman
“It smells like flowers, but with garbage!” While this may not sound like an endorsement or, indeed, appealing, American Hustle’s big-haired, loud-mouthed Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) is so intoxicated by the perfume of her exotic nail-polish topcoat that her unbridled enthusiasm had many viewers of the film intrigued as to whether such a product really exists. Leave it to the Internet sleuths: An intrepid blogger at XOJane.com swears the topcoat in question is Colorfix by the Swiss beauty brand Mavala. – Maggie Wrobel
My, what big teeth you have
In a film overrun with scantily clad, perfectly formed female physiques, it’s no small feat that a set of pearly whites were the most memorable body part in The Wolf of Wall Street. For the role of debauched stock broker Donnie Azoff, Jonah Hill was outfitted with a set of disturbingly white, oversized falsies (so large Hill spent several hours a day practising speaking with them) that steal the scene whenever Donnie breaks into a self-satisfied smirk, which is often. And while Leonardo DiCaprio plays Jordan Belfort, the titular beast, it’s Donnie who snatches an employee’s goldfish from its bowl, opens his gnashers wide and swallows the poor creature whole. – Carley Fortune
Woman on the edge
What freedom looks like
Solomon Northup (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave) has it made: He’s living a comfortable life in New York State with his wife and children. His freedom is evident in his wardrobe – velvet jackets, top hats and well-tailored shirts. A violinist, he accepts a short-term job with a travelling carnival, then wakes one morning to find himself in shackles, wearing the clothes from his previous night on the town. After being beaten, he’s offered a scratchy tunic by his kidnapper and removes his shirt – the last vestige of his freedom now in bloody tatters. – C.F.
Room with a viewpoint
Loneliness is a central theme of Spike Jonze’s dystopian comedy Her, about sensitive Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) and his love for a digital woman. To convey it visually, the writer-director and his long-time production designer, K.K. Barrett, built sparse sets that hint at emptiness but without the doom and gloom. “This is a pleasant, soft future where everything is designed to everybody’s personal taste,” Barrett told Fast Company. It’s especially evident in Theodore’s apartment, which is dotted with sleek furnishings in soothing pastels – and the odd pop of blood orange. – M.W.
Dressed to kill
William Chang Suk-ping spent four years working to make Wong Kar-wai’s The Grandmaster the stylish kung-fu epic it is. As the costume designer, production designer and editor on the project, Chang (who is from Hong Kong and attended film school in Vancouver) and a team of 30 designers created more than 1,000 costumes, fastidiously collecting historically accurate fabric, lace and notions; they also constructed elaborate facsimiles of China from the 1920s to fifties. Chang’s meticulous attention to detail is perhaps best showcased during the icy train-station fight, for which he constructed a full-sized replica of a Manchurian terminal. In the scene, Gong Er (Zhang Ziyi) wears a stunning cheongsam gown that flies open with every kick and a fur-trimmed coat that ripples with every blow. – C.F.
The two faces of Carey Mulligan
Playing shallow, effervescent Daisy in The Great Gatsby, Carey Mulligan is swathed in French lace, fur stoles and jewels, her hair cropped in a chic 1920s blonde bob. In Inside Llewyn Davis, she plays 1960s Greenwich Village folk singer Jean, who wears next to no makeup, keeps her bangs long enough to hide behind and has a penchant for turtlenecks. You know you’re watching a real movie star when Jean’s understated style is as captivating as Daisy’s extravagance. – C.F.
Follow Maggie Wrobel on Twitter: