Even vintage-inspired costume designers need a thoroughly modern muse.
For long-time film and television costume designer Ruth Myers, nominated this year for an Emmy for her tailored 1930s- and 1940s-based dress slacks and suits in the HBO movie Hemingway & Gelhorn, that muse came in the form of Nicole Kidman.
The Australian actress - sleek, svelte and almost 1.78m tall - had worked with Myers on the 2007 film The Golden Compass.
"Nicole has the best bum in the world," Myers said at the recent Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising party for its sixth annual Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design exhibition.
"She has the perfect figure."
Myers and other Emmy-nominated costume designers came to celebrate the clothes from many shows and TV movies, including Hemingway & Gelhorn, American Horror Story, Downton Abbey, Once Upon A Time and Boardwalk Empire.
The exhibition, which runs in Los Angeles until October 20, is co-presented by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The Emmy Awards are announced in Los Angeles on September 23.
On display are the wide-legged, high-waisted trousers, textured beige cardigan and rose-coloured blouse worn by Kidman in her role as Spanish Civil War and World War II correspondent Martha Gelhorn, Hemingway's third wife.
Myers gave the look - in line with the current high-waisted pants trend - a contemporary twist, using vintage fabrics recut and redesigned.
"I wanted to be true to the period, but also modern," Myers said.
"The pants are not totally accurate. In the 1940s, the crotch area was more droopy. These are somewhat more flattering."
Downton Abbey, which has been cited as an influence by the likes of Marc Jacobs and Ralph Lauren, may be taking fashion the other way, by injecting some period flair into modern design.
On display are six looks from the show, which last season revolved around the British aristocratic Crawley family during World War I.
A long, dark-blue velvet dress with sheer panelling (worn by Maggie Smith in her role as matriarch Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham) stands near a long-sleeved floor-length brown velvet coat paired with an off-white gown decorated with swirling rows of beads and lace. The latter was worn by Elizabeth McGovern, who plays American heiress Cora Crowley, Countess of Grantham.
Another standout from the exhibition is a gloriously bright yellow halter-neck bathing suit and matching yellow and black striped A-line skirt with black buttons from the series Magic City, which is set in 1959 Miami.
Then there are a stiff red-and-gold embroidered mandarin-style top worn by Peter Dinklage in the period fantasy Game of Thrones, and a classic lipstick-red shoulder-baring cocktail dress from the soapy drama Revenge.
Costume designer Chrisi Karvonides, nominated for an Emmy for the first season of American Horror Story, was inspired by several actresses on the show, including Jessica Lange, who played a ladylike neighbour with a killer edge, and Connie Britton, who played a pregnant wife and mother living in a mansion haunted by murder victims of decades past.
The show's creator, Ryan Murphy, didn't want the audience to know by the clothes what period the characters were from, or whether they were alive or dead, said Karvonides. Lange's character Constance Langdon wore cinched 1960s and 1970s dresses with a Southern air reminiscent of Blanche DuBois from A Streetcar Named Desire. A red wrap silk knit dress on display is literally blood-red to have "a strange glow" in the light, Karvonides explained. The dress features in one of the show's especially bloody scenes.
"Jessica is the most elegant actress you could hope to work with," said Karvonides.
"It was never about choosing beautiful items of clothing. It was always about the character.
"Connie has broad shoulders, so she could carry loose shapes beautifully."
As for the black rubber S&M suit worn by Dylan McDermott and other actors in American Horror Story, it's also on display in all its skin-tight glory. It turns out a half-dozen suits were used because they ripped easily, said Karvonides.
Lisa Padovani, Emmy-nominated with co-designer John Dunn for the Prohibition-era drama Boardwalk Empire, said she saw both Steve Buscemi, who plays the show's lead, Atlantic City gangster and politician Enoch "Nucky" Thompson, and Gretchen Mol, playing a mother and burlesque stripper, as hybrids of old and new.
"Steve's body type is an old-fashioned body type. He's not a body builder. He's slim. He wears the clothes well," Padovani said, adding that it's harder to fit suits on men with muscles.
Mol's slim hips and long legs made her easy to dress: "What we consider a model to look like began during the 1920s."
The costumes, created in New York by a workshop of eight sewers, are mainly hand-made from vintage fabrics. Even the buttonholes are hand-stitched. The three-piece plaid suit worn by Buscemi on the show is on display, along with his signature cardigan. A long-sleeved blush-hued dress worn by Kelly Macdonald, who plays Buscemi's love interest, is embroidered with dainty white flowers and piping.
For Eduardo Castro, nominated for a costume design Emmy for Once Upon a Time, modern designers such as Rodarte, John Galliano, Paco Rabanne and the late Alexander McQueen cast a long, muse-worthy influence on his interpretation of the show's modern take on fairy tales such as Snow White and Red Riding Hood.
The FIDM exhibition includes 16 costumes from the show, ranging from a gorgeous dark bamboo velvet overlay dress encrusted with Swarovski crystals (worn by the Evil Queen, played by Lana Parrilla) to a white wedding gown with a fitted bodice and full skirt of feathers (worn by Snow White, played by Ginnifer Goodwin).
"I wanted to keep in mind it's very accessible to the public as a romantic fairy tale, not avant-garde," said Castro.
However, a new Snow White outfit he is designing for the show's second season, will be more edgy and guided by the artistic, rebellious visions of McQueen.
So what is the real appeal of period costumes, with so many shows now set in the 60s, such as Mad Men, and earlier?
Maybe he's being humble, but Castro said it goes beyond style.
"It goes to the writing. Downton Abbey is one of the most perfect costume shows done," Castro said. "It echoes the writing."