As much as we love Black Swan, the special effects, and parodies of it done by both adults and children, we’ve managed to stay relatively mum regarding the controversy over whether or not Rodarte would be given appropriate credit when it came to awards season — mainly because it all seemed like a moot point anyway. (More on that in a second.) But now the film’s official costume designer Amy Westcott has spoken up and suffice it to say, she is not happy.
A few weeks ago, Fashionista wrote a post titled, “Why Rodarte Won’t Get The Credit They Deserve for Designing Black Swan‘s Costumes.” The argument — which came via The Hollywood Reporter — hinged on the idea that Rodarte could not be included in any nominations because they were “naive about movies” and didn’t negotiate the proper credits in their contract.
THR’s Merle Ginsberg cited a “long history of fashion designers creating costumes for stars above and beyond what a film’s costume designer does — and not getting the credit they crave,” a statement that does undue disservice to what it actually means to be the costume designer on a film. Which is to say, Wescott was hired by director Darren Aronofsky, with whom she worked with previously on The Wrestler, to (in her own words) “oversee every stitch that goes before the camera.” While Rodarte certainly designed (and was part of the design process) for some of the film’s costumes, they weren’t responsible for the overall costume design of the film.
But naturally, Rodarte is very popular — particularly among those who write about fashion on the internet — so the idea that they weren’t being included in any and all accolades awarded to the film, well, it stung. But almost any and all press Black Swan has received regarding the costumes has been largely credited to Rodarte, though minor efforts were made in the beginning to temper the impression of their involvement. Back in March, when we first reported on Rodarte and Black Swan, we received an email asking us to note specifically that Rodarte was only responsible for the costumes “for the Swan Lake Ballet… not for the entire film.” There was, sadly, no mention of Wescott. Which brings us, finally, to her response, excerpted from an interview with Clothes on Film:
Clothes on Film, Chris: Are you aware of the controversy surrounding yourself and fashion house Rodarte (the Mulleavy sisters) in the press; that they should be credited alongside you as costume designers?
Amy Westcott: Controversy is too complimentary a word for two people using their considerable self-publicising resources to loudly complain about their credit once they realised how good the film is.
CoF: Do you feel as though you are being vilified for something out of your hands?
AW: I was happy for Rodarte’s persistent publicity efforts at first; I’m so proud of the film and anything that brings it to an even wider audience is genuinely welcome. I tried to put aside my ego while being airbrushed from history in all of their interviews, as I’m just not that kind of person anyway. But when articles were planted that attacked me personally as if I had conspired against them I felt nothing but despair and betrayal. I don’t have a publicist working for me, needless to say, and I was asked to stay quiet –“not to engage”, to avoid any bad press towards the film. Unfortunately this seems to have proven detrimental to the perception of my work on Black Swan. I didn’t make the rules that the Guild and the Academy set and I am proud of my professionalism and commitment to my work, so to have my name dragged into such ill-informed gossip is galling and hurtful to say the least.
Wescott argues that Rodarte worked on a total of 7 costumes for the film, all of which were designed in collaboration with herself and Aronofsky and maintains that she “will never be put in this position again.” While her words are certainly harsh — though perhaps impassioned is a better word — we have to admit, we feel for her. How about you?
Black Swan: Amy Westcott Interview [Clothes on Film]
[via The Cut.]