Author: Kara McVey
Los Angeles may be known as the heart of the film industry, but it is also home to one of the world’s most vibrant fashion districts. For the next few months, L.A.’ s famed fashion design school FIDM (The Fashion Institute of Design And Merchandising) will combine two of L.A.’s greatest treasures by hosting an exhibit featuring some of this year’s best film costumes.
This year’s 18th annual “Art of Motion Picture Costume Design” gallery promises to be one of the most impressive yet. The school will be displaying the work of this year’s Oscar-nominated costume designers, with the exception of the collection from the film “Coco Before Chanel” (whose costumes belong to the House of Chanel). Featured costume collections include “Sherlock Holmes,” “Inglourious Basterds” and last year’s best costume design winner “The Duchess.”
Some of the gallery’s most eye-catching pieces belong to Colleen Atwood’s costumes from the film “Nine,” directed by Rob Marshall. Atwood has won the Academy Award for costume design twice previously for her collaborations with Marshall, and this year marks her eighth nomination. The collection includes the bejeweled two-piece number that Kate Hudson wears for her song “Cinema Italiano,” Penelope Cruz’s crimson fur-lined dress and the ivory silk evening gown designed for Nicole Kidman. In the back of the display, two showgirl mannequins clad in sparkling red lingerie show off Atwood’s trademark mix of skin and glitz.
Though Atwood’s collection is impressive in its glamorous extravagance, the other nominees’ costumes are of an equally high caliber. Monique Prudhomme, whose best known previous costuming credit was “Juno,” designed the eclectic and inventive costumes used in Terry Gilliam’s “Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus.” The gallery includes the white suit and commedia dell’arte-inspired zanni mask worn by the late Heath Ledger, as well as the fortune-teller’s robe of the eponymous Dr. Parnassus. Also featured are two of the dresses worn by model/actress Lily Cole – one a light colored frock and the other a gypsy-style mélange of color and patterns.
Janet Patterson’s collection from Jane Campion’s “Bright Star,” although more conservative than those of Atwood and Prudhomme, is still noteworthy. Patterson was somewhat restricted by the period parameters of the early 19th century, but she managed to recreate historic heroine Fanny Brawne’s fanciful style of dress with finesse. The gallery includes two of Brawne’s self-made garments – one a bright pink dress with matching bonnet, the other a more somber-colored creation. It also features the blue, beautifully tailored Georgian suit worn by Ben Whishaw in the film, who played John Keats.
The final nominee featured is Sandy Powell, who previously won two Oscars for her work in “Shakespeare in Love” and “The Aviator.” In this year’s “The Young Victoria,” she again proves her mastery of costume design. The largest of the gallery’s displays, her collection demonstrates her incomparable ability to retain period accuracy while creating innovative designs. The gallery features about a dozen of the dresses worn in the film by Emily Blunt’s Queen Victoria, including her flowered royal blue gown and a Swarovski crystal-encrusted recreation of the tiara handed down to Victoria by George III.
In addition to the nominees, the gallery has costume displays from about 20 other films. Highlights of the displays include Johnny Depp’s 1930s pinstriped John Dillinger suit from “Public Enemies” and Max’s monster pajamas from “Where the Wild Things Are.” The 50s-style frocks and platform wedges that helped Meryl Streep resemble the statuesque Julia Child in “Julie & Julia” are also on display. The 2009 Oscar-winning costumes from “The Duchess,” designed by Michael O’Connor, open the gallery and are examples of excellence in costume design. The collection’s costumes, especially Keira Knightley’s red silk Georgiana of Devonshire gown, beautifully represent the fine art of costume creation.
FIDM is located in downtown Los Angeles, about a 15-minute drive from Oxy, so whether it’s to see the nominees or to gawk at Robert Downey Jr.’s costumes, visiting the gallery is a great way to spend an afternoon.
The collection opened Feb. 9 and is free to the public until April 17 every week from Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For additional information, see http://fidm.edu/resources/museum+galleries/current-exhibitions.html
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