For these contenders, it's about getting dressed for beauty, necessity, survival, and transformation.
1."Mad Max: Fury Road": Jenny Beavan found inspiration shooting George Miller's new post-apocalyptic world in Namibia. The African ethos of recycling and re-purposing became important to the aesthetic, where dressing for necessity took precedence. It was about finding beauty in the ordinary objects that get thrown away. Two highlights were Rictus Erectus (Nathan Jones), with his dolls head necklace (which took her back to her early prop and model-making days), and the five wives who are totally underdressed for a road trip with shawls, sarong wraps, bikini tops and mini-skirts.
Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara in 'Carol' (2015)
2. "Carol": Sandy Powell's designs for socialite Carol (Cate Blanchett) and beatnik photographer Therese (Rooney Mara) convey the restraint and repression at the dawn of the Eisenhower era in 1952. Carol embodies a softer, more streamlined look with muted colors yet still very fashionable and elegant, while Therese dresses for comfort and practicality with lots of plaid. Finally, it's about her transformation as she develops her own personal style influenced by Carol, the object of her desire.
3. "The Revenant": Jacqueline West embraced period authenticity as well as the metaphysical subtext. The monk-like look of Leo DiCaprio's fur trapper and his commune with nature and animals began by first crossing Karl Bodmer's drawing of a native in a hood with a Russian monk in the same hood. His shirt is very practical, rough-hewn, made of long flaxen linen. But donning the bearskin left behind in the trapper camp when he's abandoned becomes a lyrical image that keeps him warm, protects him, and gives him buoyancy down the river during his rebirth.
4. "The Danish Girl": For Paco Delgado, the wardrobe helped define the feminization of Lili Elbe (Oscar nominated Eddie Redmayne), who had the first known sex change operation. Delgado took advantage of the difference in fashion between provincial Copenhagen and progressive Paris, which presented him with the idea that Elbe was trapped in a body like a cage. Heavily-structured Edwardian garments with high collars and tailored suits with restricted tones give way to soft and fluid fabrics and warmer colors, as Elbe becomes more comfortable in her own skin.
5. "Cinderella": In Powell's other contender, she was given complete freedom to be bold with expanse, color and texture. She went through every possibility for the [19th century] ball gown worn by Lily James' fairy tale fave and returned to blue. Yet it's a blue made of many fabrics and colors that move, including lavender, lilac and turquoise. The biggest challenge, though, was the iconic slipper. But in noticing the refraction in chandeliers, she was inspired to make a crystal slipper in collaboration with Swarovski for extra shine and sparkle.