‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ Native Costume Designer Sues Apple Over Awards Exclusion

A Native American costume designer sued Apple on Wednesday, alleging that her contributions to “Killers of the Flower Moon” were overlooked during the studio’s awards campaign.

Kristi Marie Hoffman, who was credited as an assistant costume designer, also alleges that she was subject to racial discrimination on set.

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Hoffman filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which resulted in a confidential settlement in December 2022. Subsequently, Hoffman alleges that the studio retaliated by denying her credit and accolades and “attempting to erase her contributions.”

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hoffman sued Apple, the Costume Designers Guild, and Jacqueline West, the costume designer who hired her.

In the complaint, she states that she was brought on because West needed someone with the cultural competency to handle the project, and West also wanted to make sure that Native Americans were represented among the crew.

Hoffman states that she worked alongside West and the Osage Nation for about a year to create accurate costumes — effectively serving as an “operational co-costume designer.” She also states that she was responsible for jacket worn by Leonardo DiCaprio in the film, which has attracted notice for its authenticity.

During the awards campaign, Hoffman alleges that West and Osage clothing consultant Julie O’Keefe took credit for her work in interviews, social media, and conferences, “completely burying Hoffman’s contributions.”

West’s work was pushed during the awards run with O’Keefe often joining her for conversations. In an interview with Variety, O’Keefe and West spoke about their collaboration, stressing the importance of Native wedding coats and blankets.

“We also bought a lot of things from Osage artisans that we used in the movie, and the members of the tribe who in the movie brought pieces that were family heirlooms to wear and share,” O’Keefe said.

Both West and O’Keefe discussed working with the Oregon-based company Pendleton who recreated many vintage styles, while others were purchased, and some were loaned to her by members of the Osage community.

There was no mention of Hoffman being a part of the process.

West was nominated for an Academy Award for her work on the film. The costume design team was also nominated for a Costume Designers Guild award. On the latter, Hoffman states that she was initially listed as the “first assistant costume designer.” She alleges that West removed the “first” designation, and that she had to fight to have it restored.

The lawsuit states claims of breach of contract, retaliation and infliction of emotional distress.

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