Walter Plunkett Research Paper

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Walter Plunkett, Costume Designer

Walter Plunkett was born in Oakland, California on June 5, 1902, to James and Frances Plunkett. Although he studied law at the University of California, he was drawn to theatre while attending college and moved to New York City in 1923 (imdb.com). His early life could not have indicated he would eventually be an academy award winning costume designer, nor could it have predicted that some of his designs would be iconic in the world of costume and fashion design. Walter Plunkett was a brilliant designer who was recognized in his career with ten academy award nominations (one win),(awardsdatabase.oscars.org), a hall of fame Costumer Designers Guild Award, and a career that spanned decades and included over
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He spent a year traveling in the American South, studying the primary sources for his inspiration. Once filming began, Plunkett’s designs were intricate, elaborate, and time consuming to create. Ralph Siegel, worked in the costume department for the Selznick production and said, “Each and every female costume was accurately outfitted with petticoats; each painted with watercolor dye patterns and designs in the style and vogue of the mid 1840-50s. Each and every female costume was accurately outfitted with petticoats; each painted with watercolor dye patterns and designs in the style and vogue of the mid 1840-50s.” (imdb.com) Plunkett’s attention to detail was sometimes missed on film. The detail in color and texture was not visible in Technicolor. Plunkett created the famous, iconic curtain dress worn by Vivien Leigh. It is believed that Plunkett deliberately treated the green fabric to sunlight to create a faded and distressed look to the dress. Sadly, his efforts again did not read on screen with the use of Technicolor (King. www.hrc.utexas.edu). This famous “Curtain Dress” and others from Gone with the Wind were donated to the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas Austin in the early 1980’s as part of the David O. Selznick
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