FIDM’s latest exhibition of movie costumes gives visitors behind-the-seams stories
Take a movie costume off the screen and put it into a museum display, and it becomes a piece of fabric art. Put nearly 125 of them in one exhibition, and together they become a condensed, visual history of humanity and cinema.
With the recent opening of the 26th “Art of Motion Picture Costume Design” exhibition at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in downtown Los Angeles, visitors can gain new appreciation for the costumes from 25 films. Whether they are 17th century finery, 1950s couture gowns or 1994 ice skating costumes, the pieces at FIDM help show how film, fashion and technology collide to tell stories on-screen. Here are a few behind-the-seams stories.
‘The Shape of Water’
With a color palette he called “bruised fruit,” costume designer Luis Sequeira added a sense of sadness to
Sequeira took no chances with a feathery ballgown that Elisa, the romantic lead character played by
‘The Greatest Showman’
For the fictionalized story of P.T. Barnum’s rise to fame, the costumes had to be as captivating as the inventor of showbiz himself, played by Hugh Jackman. Barnum’s classic red ringmaster coat includes his “B” initial in gold bullion monograms and embossed brass buttons, nearly invisible to the camera. With thousands of Swarovski crystals at her disposal, costume designer Ellen Mirojnick lavished them on a white ballgown for the Jenny
With “Phantom Thread,” costume designer Mark Bridges put his academic training in couture construction to use. The film’s key dresses were first made in muslin before the precious fabrics were cut to each actor’s measurements. He photocopied a rare, 3-meter-long piece of 17th century Flemish lace. “We cut it out in paper and figured out how we were going to place it on the dress,” he said.
Costume designer Jennifer Johnson replicated some of Tonya Harding’s most recognizable skating costumes. Covered in sequin appliqués — the kind you can buy in craft stores — Harding, and later, Johnson, gave the form-fitting costumes a hefty dose of glitz. The costumes, worn by
‘Beauty and the Beast’
Oscar winner Jacqueline Durran is nominated for “Darkest Hour” and for “Beauty and the Beast,” a live-action version of the 1991 animated story. In a pivotal ballroom scene with Belle and Beast, Durran updated the the all-important yellow princess dress worn by Emma Watson. The layers of satin organza are decorated with thousands of crystals and delicately printed with gold leaf filigree. Similarly, what looks like intricate stitching on the Beast’s blue frock coat, worn by Dan Stevens, is a convincing metallic print of embroidery.
“Art of Motion Picture Costume Design” exhibition at FIDM, 919 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; ends April 7. fidmmuseum.org
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