One of the biggest highlights at the 91st Academy Awards on Sunday was when Melissa McCarthy and Brian Tyree Henry presented the award for Best Costume Design decked out in dresses with references to all five nominated films.
But as much as some people loved the gag, it turns out not everyone was a fan.
According to the Guardian, twice-Oscar-nominated costume designer Arianne Phillips denounced the skit.
“I like to think I have a sense of humour,” she wrote on Facebook, “and I love Melissa McCarthy and Brian Tyree Henry but… this was tasteless and insulting to costume design.”
“The Oscars are an opportunity to honour our craft(s),” she continued. “As costume designers we struggle with people in our own industry UNDERSTANDING our job, on this one night where the work is supposed to be elevated this is perhaps the most egregious misrepresentation not only of taste… but of value to the film-making process.”
Phillips added, “We are not just ‘shoppers’, as our job is so often misunderstood … this kind of mockery only underscores frustration. Feels like major steps backwards… SHAME on the Academy for allowing this to be broadcast.”
Other designers agreed with Phillips on Facebook, with “Superstore” designer Alix Hester writing that people should “get very concerned about the lack of respect for our craft. Would they ever ridicule production design or cinematography in this way? I‘m tired of being called wardrobe with no understanding that we create costumes that inform a character and tell a story.”
Some pushed back on the criticism, with “Pitch Perfect 3” designer Salvador Perez writing, “A costume designer designed this and is very proud of it, she has posted many pics to her Instagram account about it, it may not be your taste, but it was designed by a fellow costume designer, not a producer. The beauty of costume design is that we get to show creativity in many ways, this was her vision. Be careful how you dismiss your colleagues’ work.”
In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Oscars costume designer Katja Cahill said she wanted the outfits to look like “all the costumes sort of threw up.
“All of the costumes are so wonderful and you want to represent that while also not making it look crazy.”
Phillips later clarified, “Obviously worked meticulously to create such elaborate comedy. So bravo for doing her/their job well!”
She continued with her core criticism, though, explaining, “I do not agree with the content and context of how that script was written. This is my opinion, and the opinion of many people here, as well as many people who contacted me after seeing the show. We can agree to disagree. This tacky and egregious misstep is about representation.”