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. . . And Now, for Best Costume Design . . .

March 26, 1993|BETTY GOODWIN

It's too late for Screen Style to moan and groan about the movies that weren't nominated for best costume design for the 65th annual Academy Awards (like "The Player," "Batman Returns" and "Tous Les Matins du Monde"). So, instead we looked at the official nominees and mulled over their chances of winning. Who has the edge? Read on.

"MALCOLM X"

Credits: Spike Lee pet Ruth Carter ("Jungle Fever," "Do the Right Thing," "School Daze").

Challenge: A lead character who wore austere black suits, and an entire Muslim community that stressed modesty in dress.

Solution: A black, white and gray palette that gave the feeling of a documentary, and simple designs that evoked a sense of strength.

Triumph: Getting the academy to notice sober period costumes from the '50s and '60s, which hardly ever get this kind of attention.

Bottom Line: And they probably won't Monday night, either.

"TOYS"

Credits: Two-time Oscar winner Albert Wolsky.

Challenge: Creating costumes that wouldn't clash with the scenery.

Solution: Costumes that are gently askew.

Triumph: Joyful human paper doll dresses and an enchanting musical jacket.

Bottom Line: Although Wolsky is a talent extraordinaire and unanimously admired by his peers, it seems unlikely that this film will add a third statue to his mantle.

"ENCHANTED APRIL"

Credits: Sheena Napier, formerly a designer for the BBC.

Challenge: British characters who spend most of the movie in Italy, but still dress English.5

Solution: Charming tunics and sun dresses.

Triumph: Long amber beads, fringed shawls and baggy dresses.

Bottom Line: The clothes look a touch frumpy, and dare we say, low budget, contrasted with the crisply tailored crowd in "Howards End."

"HOWARDS END"

Credits: Jenny Beavan and John Bright, an Oscar winner.

Challenge: Re-creating, in meticulous detail, the lives of the shabby chic and the rich chic in Britain in the early 20th Century.

Solution: Build costumes from antique garments, vintage fabric and new pieces made from turn-of-the-century patterns.

Triumph: Sheer Edwardian perfection.

Bottom Line: Beavan and Bright very possibly could win. But if voters are in a tea-and-crumpets kind of mood, "Enchanted April" and "Howards End," which portray middle-to-upper-class English one decade apart in the early 20th Century, could cancel each other out.

"BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA"

Credits: Tokyo-based artist Eiko Ishioka.

Challenge: Put costumes for all previous Dracula films to shame.

Solution: Bury vampire stereotypes. Toss out the Evil One's black cape and substitute a gold patchwork caftan.

Triumph: Dazzling, opulent costumes, operatic in proportion, and utterly original. Call it Gustav Klimt meets Queen Victoria.

Bottom Line: Most likely winner. It's the kind of extravaganza that makesvoters weak at the knees.

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