Wearable Art: What You Don’t Know About ‘Hidden Figures’ Costume Design

Have you seen the movie ‘Hidden Figures’ yet? It’s the first film, with an all female (and predominately black) cast, to remain the Number 1 movie in America for two weeks in a row since 2011’s ‘The Help,’ according to Huffington Post!

And after Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, the movie is poised to surpass the $100 million dollar mark.

Yas, kween!

DF-03283_R3 - Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae, left), Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson) and Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) celebrate their stunning achievements in one of the greatest operations in history. Photo Credit: Hopper Stone.

Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae, left), Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson) and Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) celebrate their stunning achievements in one of the greatest operations in history. Photo Credit: Hopper Stone/20th Century Fox Film Corp. h/t Huffington Post

What’s also extraordinary about the 60s-era gender and race-barrier-breaking movie is the costuming by Renee Ehrlich Kalfus who recently a nomination for Excellence in Period Film by the Costume Designers Guild of America (CFDA).

#hiddenfigures visiting the set in love with #1960#costumes I loved the #hug

A photo posted by ReneeEhrlichKalfus (@reneekalfus) on

 

“In many ways it’s not a flashy picture, so the costumes have a fresh reality in a period way that’s not… flashy,” Ehrlich Kalfus tells Fashionista. To create the stunning looks seen in the movie, Ehrlich Kalfus referenced vintage issues of Ebony magazine, while adhering to NASA’s ironclad rules for office attire.

However, Ehrlich Kalfus managed to find inventiveness and individuality when it came to the film’s vibrant looks.

Regarding Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson)’s costuming, she adds: “There was some liberty in terms of colors, styles and shapes, because she did make her own clothes and I took advantage of that.”

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Photo Credit: Hopper Stone/20th Century Fox Film Corp. h/t Fashionista

Vivid and rich colors abound in ‘Hidden Figures,’ including 60s-era jewel-toned 2-piece suits and soft prints — a sharp contrast to the male costuming of white button-down shirts and black ties.

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Photo Credit: Hopper Stone/20th Century Fox Film Corp. h/t Fashionista

Ehrich Kalfus lays out Katherine Johnson’s first moment at NASA in the movie: “When she enters into that place, they don’t want her,” she points out. “They think she’s the janitor. The guy hands her a trash can.” She adds,”subliminally, here she is in this powerful color amongst all these guys who are all just the same.”

And in addition to receiving a CFDA nomination for ‘Hidden Figures,’ the costumer is also proud of the moment when the real Katherine Johnson saw the gorgeous, female-forward costuming. “They brought the movie down to the real Katherine G. Johnson, who’s 98 years old, and she walked out and says, ‘I wore those clothes!'” Ehrlich Kalfus tells Fashionista. “That was a high compliment that she felt that she saw herself up on the screen, which was wonderful. That’s sweet, right?”

Right!