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SCREEN STYLE / OSCAR PREVIEW

Verdict for 'Innocence'

March 18, 1994|BETTY GOODWIN

Suffering from a serious case of Oscar fever, all we can think about these days are hoops, corsets, bustles, bonnets and hacking jackets.

(Allow us to also inject a note of disappointment about a nominee list that left off Ruth Carter for "What's Love Got to Do With It.")

Who will capture the prize for best costume design Monday night? Here's a recap of the potential winners and our assessment of their chances.

'The Remains of the Day'

Credits: Jenny Beavan and John Bright (who together designed "Maurice," "The Bostonians," "Howards End" and shared an Academy Award for "A Room With a View").

Challenge: Dressing a butler and a housekeeper in 1930s England, plus a houseful of servants whose wardrobe is quite dull.

Solution: Consulting Queen Elizabeth II's former butler to get the details right.

Triumph: Not prettying things up.

Bottom Line: Although they're pets of the Academy, Beavan and Bright would probably require a few more yards of brocade to take home another prize.

'The Piano'

Credits: Janet Patterson ("The Last Days of Chez Nous").

Challenge: Establishing a look for unlikely lovers in priggish times and a rough locale--the 19th-Century New Zealand bush.

Solution: Severe hair, hats and hooped skirts for a woman who wants to break out of social confines, and do-your-own-thing whaler garb and native facial tattoos for the earthy man.

Triumph: Dark and indelible fashion images, especially the black bonnets.

Bottom Line: Possibly too low-key, sullen and weird.

'Orlando'

Credits: Sandy Powell ("The Crying Game").

Challenge: Leaping through four centuries of costume history.

Solution: Go for the gold--extravagant, theatrical costumes that look as if they stepped out of royal portraits.

Triumph: Glitzy 17th-Century babe.

Bottom Line: Too esoteric--not enough voters saw the movie.

'Schindler's List'

Credits: Anna Biedrzycka-Sheppard.

Challenge: Dressing as many as 20,000 extras in a Nazi forced-labor camp plus one sharply turned-out Nazi party member.

Solution: Defining the elegance of men's fashion against the haunting imagery of incarcerated Jews in threadbare prison uniforms and clothing.

Triumph: Photo-realism in black and white.

Bottom Line: As impressive as the costumes are, this category could prevent a "Schindler" sweep.

'The Age of Innocence'

Credits: Gabriella Pescucci ("Indochine," "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen," "The Name of the Rose," "City of Women").

Challenge: Swathing upper-crust New Yorkers with predilection for operas and balls, circa 1870.

Solution: Clothes with a lush yet prim quality.

Triumph: A feast of details--gloves, furs, embroidery, feathers, jewels.

Bottom Line: The bigness and sheer beauty of the movie, plus the Martin Scorcese imprimatur, make it the likely snob-appeal favorite for Academy voters.

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