Designers are frequently snubbed out of licensing deals when it comes to merchandise, and now leaders in the Costume Designers Guild are calling for them to get their due credit.
Fashion Line Made Without Jenny Beavan’s Knowledge
A fashion line inspired by the acclaimed costumes in Disney’s new film “Cruella” was released without the knowledge of the award-winning designer who worked on the film.
Jenny Beavan has been a costume designer for several decades, earning 10 Academy Award nominations and winning two: one for “Mad Max: Fury Road” and another for “A Room With a View.” Prior to the pandemic temporarily shutting the industry down, she was tasked with designing the eye-popping frocks in “Cruella,” a movie where the costumes are especially important because the film itself centers around a war of fashion.
Beavan told Variety that there had been some discussions with Disney about co-branded products for Target and Singer sewing machines, as well as talks about a possible fashion collection, but once production ended and COVID-19 hit, that moved to the backburner. She said she never heard another word about it until a month ago when a friend sent her an Instagram post where Rag & Bone advertised its new officially licensed “Cruella”-inspired collection. The friend asked if Beavan was involved, but she said she had never even heard of it until seeing that post.
“I just was sort of horrified,” she told Variety. “The thing about ‘Cruella’ is that you’ve got a film about fashion, about two fashion designers. The whole story is them almost having a war using fashion. So, that’s so disrespectful to then bring out fashion lines.”
Costume Designers Frequently Get Snubbed Out of Licensing Deals
Like she has throughout her career, Beavan worked tirelessly on the costumes for “Cruella.” She told Vogue she traveled from London to New York to Los Angeles collecting vintage pieces, ultimately putting together a total of 47 original looks for the titular character, played by Emma Stone, alone.
Stone’s co-star, Emma Thompson, wore another 33 original outfits. On top of this, Vanity Fair reported that in some scenes, Beavan was responsible for dressing up to 150–200 background characters in some scenes with large crowds. While reviews for the film vary, the one thing critics largely agree on is that the costumes were a smashing highlight.
Despite the hard work that Beavan and so many other designers put into curating cohesive looks for their films, it is actually quite common for designers to be snubbed out of licensing agreements when the film’s outfits turn into a commercial spectacle.
According to Variety, a licensed “Birds of Prey” collection was released by Her Universe without the involvement of designer Erin Benach. Mona May, the designer behind the famous ensembles in “Clueless” and “Enchanted,” was similarly slighted when it came to merchandise involving the costumes she made for both films.
She told Variety she remembered seeing “Clueless” dolls in 1995 that wore her costumes “like verbatim — the yellow suit, the black suit.” She said she found it “shocking that I was not involved at all and I had no compensation for something that huge.”
She also said the princess dress Amy Adams’ character wore in “Enchanted” ended up being remade “to a tee” into children’s costumes.
“It’s such an old studio system in the sense that we basically sign [away] our life when we sign a contract, and there is no way around it,” she told Variety. Beavan likewise told the outlet that no matter how hard contracts are negotiated, “You basically do sign your life away,”
New York-based fashion writer Laurie Brookins added on Twitter that scandals like this are unfortunately “far from new.”
“As far back as the 1930s, studios worked with retailers — the Macy’s Cinema Shop was the best example — on designs that were sometimes exact copies of film costumes,” she said. “Joan Crawford’s ‘Letty Lynton’ dress sold like crazy; Adrian [the designer] never saw a penny.
Costume Designers Guild and Stylists Speak Out
While Variety‘s report noted that there are cases where designers get to be involved in lines inspired by the shows they worked on, like ones for “Mad Men” and “Gossip Girl”, more often than not, designers are not so lucky. and more, where designers for those shows got to be involved in related lines, it is by no means a common practice, and most designers are not so lucky.
“Historically, this is a huge issue for our membership, and for all costume designers,” the communications director for the Costume Design Guild Anna Wyckoff told Variety. “Because, as everyone knows, a costume has a long life after the project — in merchandising and toys and Halloween costumes. So there are many opportunities for the costumes to be used in an ancillary marketing fashion.”
The Guild’s president, Salvador Pérez Jr. echoed similar frustrations and called for designers to get their due credit when merchandise includes their work.
“As costume designers, our work has a life beyond the screen,” he told the outlet. “Our work is reproduced for toys, costumes, fashion collections and more. Not only are we not allowed to participate in the profits made off of the merchandising, we aren’t even credited for our work on the original designs.”
“Costume designers who help generate additional revenues from productions deserve to be compensated for the additional income earned,” he continued.
Other designers, including Mumbai-based stylist Vaidehi Krishnan, echoed his calls. Krishnan wrote that not crediting designers is “disrespectful to the art of moviemaking. Especially when characters would be naked without us.”
Some, including the Costume Designer’s Guild and designers like Kathleen Felix Hager, are starting to use the hashtags #NakedWithoutUs and #CreditCostumeDesigners in hopes of bringing attention to these issues.
Disney did not respond to Variety’s request for comment.
See what others are saying: (Variety) (ScreenRant) (Daily Dot)
Priyanka Chopra Jonas Says “The Activist” Reality Series “Got It Wrong”
The controversial series is now being reworked into a documentary, which Chopra Jonas hopes will better “highlight the actions and impact” of global activists.
Priyanka Chopra Jonas Apologizes For “The Activist”
Actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas responded to controversies surrounding “The Activist,” a CBS reality competition series she was slated to co-host that is now being reworked following widespread backlash.
“The Activist” was going to show real activists competing against one another in various challenges in an effort to promote their philanthropic causes. After many expressed disgust at the premise, CBS said it would scrap the footage already shot and turn the idea into a one-time documentary special highlighting the work and impacts of different activists.
“The show got it wrong, and I’m sorry that my participation in it disappointed many of you,” Chopra Jonas wrote on Instagram. “The intention was always to bring attention to the people behind the ideas and highlight the actions and impact of the causes they support tirelessly. I’m happy that in this new format, their stories will be the highlight.”
“I’m proud to collaborate with partners who have their ear to the ground and know when it’s time to hit pause and re-evaluate,” she added.
Chopra Jonas closed her post by thanking the “global community of activists” for their hard work, which often goes unacknowledged.
Controversies Surrounding “The Activist”
Musician Usher and dancer Julianne Hough were cast to host alongside Chopra Jonas. After a release announcing the show and their casting went out last week, it was slammed online by activists and journalists alike.
Actress and activist Jameela Jamil wrote that the network would have been better off donating the presumably large production costs to charity instead of “turning activism into a game.”
Women’s activist Gina Martin thought turning charity into a competition was counterintuitive, arguing “the whole *essense* of activism is solidarity and community.”
Writers from The Verge, The Washington Post, Essence, and countless other outlets likewise published pieces slamming the program. The Post’s Michele L. Norris accused CBS of “trying to capitalize on the current avalanche of doom in the daily news cycle.”
Norris added that the show’s “prize,” which was to attend the G20 summit in Italy, boiled down to activists fighting “merely for the right to crash an international conference and try to shake down world leaders for cash.”
Responses From Those Involved
Chopra Jonas is not the only host to address the criticism. Before the idea was canned, Hough wrote a lengthy Instagram post saying she was listening to the dialogue regarding the program.
“There is a feeling of insult, dehumanization, insensitivity and hurt that is being rightfully felt,” she wrote.
“I do not claim to be an activist and wholeheartedly agree that the judging aspect of the show missed the mark and furthermore, that I am not qualified to act as a judge,” she added, though she stopped short of actually stepping down from the gig.
CBS ended up releasing a joint statement with Global Citizen and Live Nation acknowledging the failings of the concept.
“It has become apparent the format of the show as announced distracts from the vital work these incredible activists do in their communities every day,” the statement said. “The push for global change is not a competition and requires a global effort.”
The statement said the new documentary will “showcase the tireless work of six activists and the impact they have advocating for causes they deeply believe in” without any competitive element.
See what others are saying: (CNN) (Vanity Fair) (BBC News)
Health Officials in the U.S. and Trinidad Shut Down Nicki Minaj’s Vaccine Claims
After the rapper claimed her cousin’s friend had severe side effects from the vaccine, Dr. Anthony Fauci said she should be “thinking twice about propagating information that really has no basis.”
Health Officials Condemn Nicki Minaj’s Vaccine Statement
Health officials in the United States and Trinidad and Tobago are refuting claims rapper Nicki Minaj made this week suggesting that COVID-19 vaccines can lead to testicular swelling.
“My cousin in Trinidad won’t get the vaccine cuz his friend got it & became impotent,” Minaj tweeted Monday. “His testicles became swollen. His friend was weeks away from getting married, now the girl called off the wedding. So just pray on it & make sure you’re comfortable with ur decision, not bullied.”
The symptoms Minaj described in the tweet about her cousin’s friend fall more in line with those of various sexually transmitted diseases. The CDC has repeatedly noted that there is “currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems in women or men.”
International health officials doubled down on this after Minaj’s remarks went viral. Dr. Terrence Deyalsingh, the Health Minister for Trinidad and Tobago, said his department takes every claim of this nature seriously and found no proof that Minaj’s anecdote was true after spending hours thoroughly researching it.
“Unfortunately, we wasted so much time yesterday running down this false claim,” he said during a press conference on Wednesday.
“As we stand now, there is absolutely no reported side effect or adverse event of testicular swelling in Trinidad, or, I dare say anywhere else?” he continued. “None that we know of anywhere in the world.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s leading infectious disease expert, likewise debunked Minaj’s story while speaking to CNN.
“She should be thinking twice about propagating information that really has no basis, except a one-off anecdote, and that’s not what science is all about,” Dr. Fauci told Jake Tapper this week.
Nicki Minaj Claims She Received Invite to Discuss Vaccines at the White House
As vaccine misinformation continues to spread and elongate the pandemic, the Biden administration has unveiled several efforts to instill trust in the science behind it. Minaj claimed Wednesday she was invited to the White House to discuss the vaccine and ask questions on behalf of those who need convincing.
A White House official, however, claimed that she was not offered a trip but rather a call with “one of our doctors to answer questions she has about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.” Minaj slammed the White House on Instagram Wednesday night for undercutting her claim.
“Do you think I’d go on the internet and lie about being invited to the fucking White House?” she said in a 14-minute video. “Like, what?!”
“You know what the request was? ‘We’d like to offer Nicki an invitation to come to the White House to speak with two people,” she continued. “With, what is that man’s name? Dr. Fauci? And with the Surgeon General.”
Minaj said that when she expressed concerns about traveling, they offered the chance to also do a live chat on the social media platform of her choice. Throughout the remainder of her video, she repeatedly made startling claims suggesting the media was targeting an attack on her to make her look dumb so people would stop asking questions about the vaccine.
By Thursday, that video had been viewed over 1.6 million times. “I Stand With Nicki” trended on Twitter Thursday as some claimed the media has twisted her words, while others slammed her fanbase for supporting the rapper as she promoted misinformation.
See what others are saying: (Complex) (New York Times) (The Guardian)
Julianne Hough Responds to Criticism Over “The Activist” Reality Series
Many slammed the show for belittling activism efforts all over the world, and Hough said their feelings of “insult, dehumanization, insensitivity, and hurt” are justified.
Julianne Hough Responds to Criticism
Julianna Hough, one of several hosts on the upcoming CBS reality competition series “The Activist,” said Tuesday that the growing outrage against the show is “rightfully felt.”
According to Deadline, the series will follow six real activists that are “teamed with three high-profile public figures” as they fight for three major global causes: health, education, and the environment. Those activists will “go head-to-head in challenges to promote their causes, with their success measured via online engagement, social metrics, and hosts’ input.” Musician Usher and actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas will serve as hosts along with Hough.
The activists’ goal is to amplify their message and then advance to the G20 Summit in Italy so they can raise funding and awareness for their causes, but the premise left a sour taste in many peoples’ mouths. Some argued that it was degrading to make activists compete on a stage for resources and attention, while others thought the celebrity hosts were not suited for a show about philanthropy.
On Tuesday, Hough acknowledged those complaints in a lengthy post on Instagram. She said she is listening to them “with an open heart and mind.”
“There is a feeling of insult, dehumanization, insensitivity and hurt that is being rightfully felt,” she wrote before admitting that she is not an activist and is not qualified to host the program. Hough stopped short of stepping down from the series.
“I do not claim to be an activist and wholeheartedly agree that the judging aspect of the show missed the mark and furthermore, that I am not qualified to act as a judge.”
Hough mentioned the controversy she sparked in 2013 after wearing blackface as part of a costume. She noted that this likely added “insult to injury” regarding her casting and apologized again for the incident. Still, she said that she felt compelled to join the series so she could “be a part of something that highlights and is centered around sharing activists’ work on a larger platform.”
“I felt it would help educate, mobilize, and inspire people around the world to get involved in activism because so many worthy causes need attention, funding, and most importantly, the power to effect real change,” she added.
Hough is not the only person to respond to the outrage the show sparked. A spokesperson for Global Citizen, an international advocacy group co-producing the show, released a statement to Deadline defending the series.
“The Activist spotlights individuals who’ve made it their life’s work to change the world for the better, as well as the incredible and often challenging work they do on the ground in their communities,” the spokesperson said. “This is not a reality show to trivialize activism. On the contrary, our aim is to support activists everywhere, show the ingenuity and dedication they put into their work, and amplify their causes to an even wider audience.”
Backlash Against “The Activist”
Criticisms against the show started rolling in on Twitter after a press release announcing the series and its hosts was published on Sept. 9. Many, including real-world activists, were quick to express their concerns over the series.
“Couldn’t they just give the money it’s going to take to pay this UNBELIEVABLY expensive talent and make this show, directly to activist causes? Rather than turning activism into a game,” wrote activist and actress Jameela Jamil.
British women’s activist Gina Martin slammed the decision to cast Usher, Chopra-Jonas, and Hough as the hosts.
“Why the hell is there a TV show that turns activist into a competition when the whole *essense* of activism is solidarity and community?” Martin added. “This is the absolute worst.”
Others called the series “performative” and “horrific.” Nabilah Islam, a progressive organizer and former Georgia congressional candidate, argued that activism is difficult enough “without having to dance and sing for a bunch of millionaires while they decide who’s worthy of their crumbs.”
“The Activist” is currently slated to debut on October 22 and air for five weeks. It is unclear if CBS will be amending the show’s rollout following the ongoing criticisms.