Fashion & Trends

Film's Most Famous Seamstresses and Costume Designers

 two people watching a film
Check out our shortlist of our favorite famous seamstresses, designers, and sewists whose creations have graced the silver screen.
By Simon 2021-02-11

The Academy Awards’ official nominees are still about a month away from being announced, but thinking about awards season (namely, who will take home the Oscar for Best Costume Design) has inspired us to look back on some of the most adored and innovative costume designers, seamstresses, tailors & sewests celebrated in cinema. 

[Looks meaningfully into the teleprompter]: “And the nominees are….”

 Edith Head's costume design for Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday
Edith Head, Roman Holiday

Edith Head

Arguably the GOAT (Greatest of all time), this California-based icon and world-famous seamstress won a record eight Oscars for costume design (including the first-ever for the category) for her imaginative and groundbreaking work spanning four decades. Some of her most famous designs were worn by Audrey Hepburn in “Roman Holiday” and “Sabrina”.

 Piero Gherardi's wardrobe design for La Dolce Vita
Piero Gherardi, La Dolce Vita

Piero Gherardi

Arbiter of Italian cool, Mr. Gherardi is easily one of the most recognizable and famous Italian tailors. Gherardi worked on Federico Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita” and “8 1/2”, winning Academy Awards for each, and helped set the tone for stylish, dark dressing from Milan to New York.

 Irene Sharaff working with Elizabeth Taylor on the set of Cleopatra
Irene Sharaff, Cleopatra

Irene Sharaff

New York and Paris-taught Ms. Sharaff won a total of five Academy Awards for classics like “West Side Story”, “Cleopatra” and “The King And I”, bringing an elevated eye to these large-scale epics.

 Costume design from Tess by Anthony Powell
Anthony Powell, Tess

Anthony Powell

Known for his lush and lavish designs, Mr. Powell has taken home three Oscars for his period masterpieces such as “Tess” and “Travels With My Aunt”, as well as nominations for immersive fan-favorites like “Hook”.

 Costumes from Grand Budapest Hotel designed by Milenia Canonero
Milenia Canonero, Grand Budapest Hotel

Milenia Canonero

Another master of period costume, Ms. Canonero has delighted audiences for decades with eye-catching work on classics such as “Barry Lydon” and “Chariots of Fire”, as well as contemporary hits like, “Marie Antoinette” and “Grand Budapest Hotel”.

 Memoirs of a Geisha costume design by Colleen Atwood
Colleen Atwood, Memoirs of a Geisha

Colleen Atwood

This 4-time winner and 12-time nominee is known for stylized takes on the Roaring 20’s in the film adaptation of “Chicago”, pre-WWII Japan in “Memoirs of a Geisha”, and high-concept designs for Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland”.

 Black Panther wardrobe design by Ruth E. Carter
Ruth E. Carter, Black Panther

Ruth E. Carter

This trailblazing Black designer is not just a fixture in Spike Lee films such as “Do The Right Thing” and “Malcom X”, but is also credited with giving a visual identity to the burgeoning Afrofuturism movement with her Academy Award win for “Black Panther”.

These famous seamstresses, tailors, and costume designers have their signature forever linked with iconic looks and designs. While we may not all make it to the Academy Awards, there are great ways to share your designing vision with the world, whether it's volunteering with your local theater or adding your own signature custom sewing label to your designs.

Didn’t see your favorite designer or sewist on our list? Let us know who you’d like to be spotlighted next in the comments or on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.