Today marks the 100th anniversary of the day the Titanic fell to the bottom of the Atlantic, and we wanted to honor the vessel and her passengers, by discussing costume designer Deborah Lynn Scott’s intricate and beautiful early 20th-century Edwardian dresses that Kate Winslet wore in the film that was made fifteen years ago. In order for this editor to write this piece, and do it justice, I decided to watch it for the Nth time. (Our other editor got to see it in 3D last week, and said it was truly spectacular.) Having been just shy of my eleventh birthday, when I first saw the film, all I knew was Leonardo was incredibly handsome; I hated Kate Winslet, because she was making out with my future husband; and I adored all of the dresses Kate’s character, Rose DeWitt Bukater, got to wear. I no longer hate Kate – I have actually grown to appreciate her as a phenomenal actress, but I am still in love with all of the designs that earned Deborah Lynn Scott her Academy Award for Best Costume Design. Scott’s resume is as diverse as it is magnificent. She was the head costume designer for mega blockbusters like Back to the Future, all three Transformers movies, and the hugely popular, Avatar, but aside from the action-packed films she’s done, including others like Minority Report and The Patriot, you won’t be shocked to find out that she’s best known for her beautiful craftsmanship on this James Cameron creation. Scott has been quoted as saying that she likes to design for all different time periods because they give her, “an incredible opportunity to delve into history, which is a real educational experience,” and she has proven her ability to tell stories through her variation of designs. Scott studied theater at California State University at Northridge and ended up catching a big break working as a costumer on the set of E.T. She was eventually promoted to costume designer and has been expanding her extraordinary range ever since. While watching the feature, I noticed the beautiful subtleties of Rose’s transformation that is partially aided through her costuming. Rose is first seen in a frock we’re fanatics about (we featured it in one of our first posts) – she appears in a fitted, pinstriped, high-collared suit and a major statement of a hat, but the dress that Rose is wearing at the end of the film, though equally stunning, has a completely different meaning to its presence in the movie. Rose’s gowns that she wears to dinner are extremely formal, adorned in painstakingly, perfected bead-work complemented by satin and lace, in dark hues of scarlet and maroon. For Rose’s daytime outfits, they are similar in style as well as color, gold and lime, with long, white sleeves, empire-waists, satin trains, and lace embroidered collars. For the dress that withstands that most action and longest screen time, Scott created nearly two-dozen copies of the multi-layered, flowing, pastel sheath Rose wears, because she goes through the most physical scenes in it (pictured, above left). It made sense that this pink and lavender dress was looser than the others in terms of fit and material, but it was also softer and uninhibited, showing the changes Rose was preparing to make with her life once she departed the Titanic. (Note: Today’s Look-of-the-Day honors a character who is born to survive, just like Rose was.) In the scene where Rose and Jack are running through the engine room, the dress could easily resemble the paintings that she loves so much. The movement of the dress alone is filmed in its own shot to show the beauty and existence of Rose’s new found freedoms; freedom to do whatever she wants and the freedom to experience them with the love of her life.
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