Oscar costume design nominees’ work on view at FIDM Museum
The fashion world will fixate on the Oscar red carpet’s custom gowns and costly gem clusters for weeks after the Academy Awards on Sunday.
But Michael Keaton’s “Birdman” suit and Felicity Jones’ “The Theory of Everything” '60s garb required just as much deliberation and design skill. Those two outfits and more than 100 other on-screen ensembles are the focus of the Art of Motion Picture Costume Design exhibition, now in its 23rd year, at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising Museum. The show, scheduled to run through April 25, features standout costume designs from a broad swath of 2014’s film offerings — everything from the mask that made Magneto so menacing in “X-Men: Days of Future Past” to the simple Keds and capris that made Hazel relatable in “The Fault in Our Stars.”
Upon entering the exhibition, you’re immediately stopped in your tracks by the inky gown Angelina Jolie donned in Disney’s “Maleficent.” It looms, in all its intimidating glory, fitted to a mannequin crowned with the character’s signature horns. The entire imposing look features yards of fine leather, python scales and even fish skin. The relatively humble Aurora and Prince Phillip mannequins are right to cower as they do behind her liquid-like train. These looks are by Anna B. Sheppard, an Academy Award nominee for costume design for her work on the film. All five of the Oscar costume nominees — including “Inherent Vice,” designed by Mark Bridges, and “Mr. Turner,” by Jacqueline Durran — are featured in the exhibition, as are last year’s Oscar-winning looks by Catherine Martin for “The Great Gatsby.”
The exhibition winds its way through the capes and tights that made last year’s fantasy films soar and the simply cut sheaths that made the biopics believable. The unadorned black suit that transformed David Oyelowo into “Selma’s” Martin Luther King Jr. stands kitty-corner from the purple uniforms that helped make “The Grand Budapest Hotel” so whimsically over-the-top and that earned an Oscar costume design nomination for Milena Canonera.
The films’ soundtracks are piped in overhead, rounding out the movie buff experience. So you’ll hear James Brown’s “Please, Please, Please” as you snap a selfie with the gold cape Chadwick Boseman wore in “Get on Up.” And you can sing along to Sondheim as you peer at Colleen Atwood’s Oscar-nominated hirsute zoot suit and grandiose witch-wear from “Into the Woods.”
FIDM alumni also share the spotlight. The collection includes the pharaoh’s finery from “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb” and the modern-day everyman looks Ben Affleck sported in “Gone Girl,” all of which were designed by FIDM grads.
There’s no glass partition separating visitors from the costumes, which allows for a closer — though still hands-off — look at every bugle bead and scrap of lace. “It gives visitors a chance to freeze-frame and really examine the details that may have been lost on screen,” FIDM costume historian Kevin Jones says of the exhibition. “You will see so much more in [the costumes] than you did the first time around.”
Art of Motion Picture Costume Design
Where: Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising Museum, 919 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday through April 25
Information: (213) 623-5821, fidmmuseum.org