CRAFT CIRCUIT: Costume designer Judianna Makovsky is behind some of the biggest moments in modern pop culture history. Active since the late eighties, Makovsky has created the looks of superheroes and wizards, princesses and everymen, and a bit of everything in between. Over the past four decades, Makovsky has shown a versatility of outfitting heroes (and villains) of every sort. However, her most recognizable work is that of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Her latest project is the upcoming box office phenomenon, “Avengers: Endgame.” Prior to “Avengers: Endgame” she was the costume designer for other MCU films such as “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” “Captain America Civil: War,” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” She even designed the costumes in “X-Men: The Last Stand.”
Reaching a career status few designers ever achieve, Makovsky is affiliated with three of the world’s most popular and successful franchises. “The Avengers,” “The Hunger Games,” and “Harry Potter” have all made their mark on pop culture history, and Makovsky is responsible for the looks that inspired countless Hot Topic imitations, cosplays, and toy reproductions.
Over the course of her career, Makovsky has been nominated for three Oscars. She was nominated for Best Costume Design for “Seabiscuit“, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone“, and “Pleasantville“. In 2013, the Costume Designers Guild Awards honored her with their Career Achievement Award. Next Makovsky’s work will be seen in the upcoming “The Suicide Squad.”
Since the eighties, Judianna Makovsky has created the looks for a few films you may be familiar with. Here are ten highlights from her illustrious career:
In her second film as a costume designer, Judianna Makovsky worked on Penny Marshall‘s “Big.” A lighthearted, feel-good comedy, Makovsky’s designs in “Big” are often played for comedic effect. It’s amusing to see an adult Josh (Tom Hanks) attempt to navigate life as an adult, and his clothing reflects that. Earlier in the film, Josh wears the film’s most amusing ensemble, the white tuxedo he wears to the office party. It’s definitely something a child would wear. A child inside an adult body, Josh doesn’t have a sense of shame and doesn’t care about keeping up with appearances. As the film closes, Josh’s clothes become more demure as he fully transitions into adulthood. His suits are more fitted, and a bit more muted in the color pallet.
A Little Princess (1995)
While Judianna Makovsky’s has dressed superheroes, she has a strong background in period pieces. One of her standout films is Alfonso Cuarón‘s “A Little Princess.” A childhood favorite, “A Little Princess” reminds viewers every young girl is a princess, no matter her circumstances. The film follows Sara Crewe (Liesel Matthews), as she attends boarding school during her wealthy father’s absence. A reverse rags to riches story, Sara is forced to live as an indentured servant after her father disappears in combat. Based on Frances Hodgson Burnett’s 1905 book, the film is set in the early Edwardian era. “A Little Princess” utilizes jewel tones, especially greens- a nod to the photography and style of the time.
While “A Little Princess” revels in childhood innocence and magic, “Lolita” is completely the opposite. Makovsky’s work in the 1997 film is girly, but subtly sexual. In the film, Dolores Haze’s (Dominique Swain) outfits always teeter between childish and erotic. Exposed mid-drifts, short skirts, and red lips, countered by frills and light colors are touches that lure in audiences. Adrian Lyne‘s adaptation of “Lolita” further popularized the “nymphet” style that is romanticized by so many young women.
Of all the films on this list, “Pleasantville” presented a most unique design challenge: Working with both black and white, and color as well as contemporary and period costume. In “Pleasantville,” siblings David (Tobey Maguire) and Jennifer (Reese Witherspoon) find themselves trapped inside the world of Pleasantville. Pleasantville is a “perfect” place, free of pain and suffering, and where everyone sticks to the status quo. The most exciting moments of the film are when the residents slowly transition to color. At the conclusion of the film, everyone looks euphoric and vibrant.
Practical Magic (1998)
Is there a more amazing duo than Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock in “Practical Magic?” A nineties cult classic, “Practical Magic” is the story of two sisters who happen to be witches. The sisters, Sally (Bullock) and Gillian (Kidman) are faced with fighting a family curse. As different as night and day, Sally and Gillian have polarizing personalities, and their respective styles reflect that. Sally’s clothes are subdued, but cute, while Gillian is fiery, and alluring. A great era for witch films, “Practical Magic” along with films like “The Craft,” “The Witches,” and “Hocus Pocus,” redefined “witchy” fashion.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)
“Practical Magic” showcases some incredibly magical style, but it pales to the grandeur of designing for an entire magical universe. Tasked with bringing J.K. Rowling‘s iconic book characters to life for the very first time, Makovsky’s designs are the foundation of the “Harry Potter” franchise. In the first film, audiences were introduced to the beloved characters and the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Makovsky outfitted an entire school, designing the look of the Hogwarts uniforms, from the traditional school robes to the ones worn on Quidditch field. She even created the looks for both the muggles and wizards, which is no small feat.
The third of Makovsky’s Oscar-nominated films, “Seabiscuit” was heavily recognized in numerous categories, especially in costume design. Set in the era of the Great Depression, “Seabiscuit” is based on the book “Seabiscuit: An American Legend.” The film is inspired by the racing career of the real horse. Horse races have always been an amazing showcase of style, and the costumes are a reflection of that. Marcela Howard’s (Elizabeth Banks) ensembles are particularly noteworthy because she is the epitome of the glamorous forties woman. The Oscar nomination was well deserved.
The Hunger Games (2012)
In yet another major franchise, Makovsky’s designs were a part of pop culture history, and once again, Makovsky set the foundation. “The Hunger Games” took the world by storm, and Makovsky’s designs the citizens of Panem to life. The most exciting design aspect of “The Hunger Games” is the look of each individual district, and the residents of the Capitol. This is carefully displayed in the reaping of District 12, where Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) stands alongside an enthusiastic Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks). Makovsky’s work has also lent to many imitations, including that of the District 12 training shirts- one of which I owned from Hot Topic.
X:Men the Last Stand (2006)
Similar to the next film on this list, Makovsky designed a set of flashy team uniforms for one final battle. “X-Men: The Last Stand” was the designer’s first film in which she outfits superheroes. Adapting comic book characters to screen seems like an easy task, but any designer has to worry about making heroes look cool as opposed to campy. Designers also have to worry about utility, as opposed to just making the heroes look nice.
Avengers: Endgame: 2019
In her most recent work, Makovsky was charged with designing for one of the most anticipated films of all time…”Avengers: Endgame.” Makovsky has a great relationship with Marvel, having been the designer for “Avengers: Infinity War“, and two of the “Captain America” films. For the final installment, the Avengers debut new white team uniforms. There is speculation that the suits are going to be used to go through the Quantum Realm, but it’s not certain just yet. However, the suits look pretty cool and have already spawned imitations in the form of hoodies and jackets. We can’t wait to see what else “Avengers: Endgame” has in store!