I sent Anne Marie to the FIDM Museum to check out this year's costume design exhibit. Here's her report. (I'm seething with jealousy right now!) -Nathaniel
The advantage to being a cinephile in Los Angeles is that there’s a wealth of Oscars-related activities around this time to check out. Costume lovers, rejoice! The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising Museum has launched the 22nd Annual Art Of Motion Picture Costume Design. Here are 7 things you’ll see if you get a chance to go:
1) Sydney’s physics-defying gown from American Hustle - Which is, upon closer inspection, almost see-through. Kudos to Amy Adams and Michael Wilkinson (Oscar-nominated) for pulling off Sydney’s daring looks, which seem all the more daunting to flaunt in person. (There just must have been so much boob-tape.) It's impossible to tell the period pieces from the original creations, which is more than can be said for...
2) Jay Gatsby’s surprisingly striking pink suit - Away from the noisy CGI of Baz Lurhman’s anachronistic adaptation, I was shocked to realize that this suit is dapper as hell. The color is absolutely beautiful, not the alternately washed-out-or-bubblegum pink it had seemed to be in the film. DiCaprio should ask Catherine Martin (nominated for The Great Gatsby) to design his Oscars tux, because otherwise I guarantee he won’t look nearly so good.
3) A perfect union of period design and character in The Invisible Woman and 12 Years A Slave - Too often we think of costume design as solely concerned with historical recreation. However, Oscar nominees Patricia Norris (interviewed right here at TFE for 12 Years A Slave) and Michael O’Connor (The Invisible Woman, also interviewed) prove differently. I haven’t seen either film yet (I know, I know), but even without context I could still see characters’ lives, social status, and personal tragedies reflected in what they wore. (Although I think they cleaned the dirt off Chiwetel Ejiofor's costume before displaying it.)
4) The difference between historical realism and fantasy - Academy Award nominee The Grandmaster contributed only two costumes to the exhibit. They stand against one wall in strong contrast next to the fanciful designs of 47 Ronin. Both films are based on true events - 47 Ronin on a Japanese samurai rebellion, The Grandmaster on the life of Ip Man, the Chinese martial artist best known for teaching Bruce Lee. However, William Chang Suk Ping’s designs for The Grandmaster, though still stylized, speak more about their characters’ power and athleticism than the bright red armor of 47 Ronin.
5) Beads and Feathers and Boots, oh my! - Fantasy costume design. It’s just so much fun. Everything from the feathered dresses of Oz The Great And Powerful to Katniss Everdeen’s Mockingbird gown in Catching Fire to the armored maidens of Thor: The Dark World can be seen. No matter how you felt about these movies, the costumes are definitely worth it.
6) Superman’s Long Underwear - The first thing you’ll see when you walk into the exhibit is Superman’s supersuit from Man of Steel. However, taking a moment to look from Superman to Zod to Jor-El, you realize that under all that Kryptonian armor, everyone’s wearing the same webbed wetsuit. So really, Superman spends the majority of the movie saving the world in his underoos. That definitely takes nerves of steel. (And of that doesn’t sate your sci-fi craving, Ender’s Game, Pacific Rim, and more are also down the hall.)
7) Mid-Century Modern Style - 50’s and 60’s design is back in style in a big way, so as I perused the costumes from Saving Mr. Banks, I half expected somebody to try to grab P.L. Travers’ tweed jacket off the mannequin. The same for Lee Daniels’ The Butler and 42. Do you know how much a replica Dodgers jersey would go for in Los Angeles?
The museum has a strict (and understandable) no touching, no photography policy. But if it didn't, what would you try on first?