Starting Tuesday, visitors can get a close-up look at the “Mockingjay” dress Katniss Everdeen wore in “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.” Or they can admire pieces from the wardrobes of the casts of “American Hustle,” “The Great Gatsby,” “12 Years a Slave" and more at the 22nd annual “Art of Motion Picture Costume Design” exhibition at the FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising) Museum in downtown Los Angeles.
The exhibition features 110 costumes on loan from 24 films, including all five films nominated for the 2014 Academy Award for costume design.
This year’s Oscar nominees include Patricia Norris for “12 Years a Slave,” Michael Wilkinson for “American Hustle,” William Chang for “The Grandmaster,” Catherine Martin for “The Great Gatsby” and Michael O’Connor for “The Invisible Woman.” Also included in the exhibition are costumes from last year’s Academy Award winner for costume design, “Anna Karenina,” created by Jacqueline Durran.
“This show takes a year to put together; we are literally going to start next year’s show on Monday,” said Kevin Jones, FIDM Museum costume historian. “We start with a group of about 60 films that we pare down to about 25 to fit in our gallery; each film is represented by three to eight costumes. We want to show our students and visitors a broad range of costume design, from massive-budget spectacles to small, independent films with minuscule budgets, including grand epic historical dramas, sci-fi films and contemporary films. We borrow [costumes] from costume designers, studios, archives, private collectors and movie stars.”
Michael Wilkinson, a first-time nominee for “American Hustle,” attended the exhibition preview party on Saturday. “They asked me to submit my eight favorite costumes, so I felt this was a nice representation of the different characters and different moods of the film,” he said. “The most challenging thing was to really clearly delineate the different demographics of the film. We had three distinct worlds: the world of Manhattan with all its cosmopolitan flavor, [Rosalyn’s] world of Long Island and the sprawling suburbs, and the vibrant world of New Jersey, where Jeremy Renner’s character was a politician and a shining, inspirational figure.”
An attention-grabbing feature of the film’s costume design was the revealing tops worn by Amy Adams.
“When you think of low necklines, what comes to mind is confidence and stridence, but Amy [Adams] and I were interested in the fact that when you’re wearing such provocative clothes, it’s drawing a lot of attention to yourself and there’s not a lot between you and the world, so you’re really putting yourself out on a limb,” said Wilkinson, noting how each character’s style is a reflection of personality. “We loved the sense of electricity and danger that the clothes gave her character. Jennifer [Lawrence] and I really liked the idea that there was something a little messed up about her character that was fun to explore, whether her dresses were a size too small or the neckline was just a little too low to make you feel uncomfortable…Christian Bale had a signature look with his cravats and three-piece suits with contrasting vests. I had a lot of fun combining paisleys, stripes, polka dots and interesting fabrics in a very expressive way. We wanted to convey that he was a sophisticated man of the world who knew a lot about art and that he was a person who could be trusted, someone you could warm to.”
Also on display are costumes from “Man of Steel” that Wilkinson co-designed with costume designer James Acheson — a prelude to Wilkinson’s current project of reinventing iconic superhero costumes for the 2016 film “Batman vs. Superman.”
Another costume designer in attendance at the preview party was Trish Summerville, with three costumes she designed for “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” on display —the iridescent gray “Mockingjay” dress, printed with images of feathers and wings, that Jennifer Lawrence’s character Katniss Everdeen wears in the 75th Hunger Games kickoff scene; a flame-detailed dress worn by Lawrence in the Capitol gala scene; and a hand-tooled, bronze leather corset layered over a tree bark-patterned bodysuit, worn by Jena Malone as tribute Johanna Mason.
“We wanted to raise the fashion bar and make it a bit more extreme,” said Summerville. “We featured fashion trends, like oversized houndstooth and floral motifs, throughout the film. If they had a Met Ball [the gala that kicks off the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual Costume Institute exhibition] at the United Nations, that’s what we were trying to accomplish.”
On view until April 26, the exhibition is free and open to the public.
“Art of Motion Picture Costume Design Exhibition” at the FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising) Museum, 919 S. Grand Ave. in Los Angeles; open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed Sunday and Monday; www.fidmmuseum.org. Guided tours from $20 per person ($200 minimum) Monday through Friday from 10 a.m to 4 p.m. by appointment; to book, call (213) 623-5821.