It’s a given that living in Los Angeles exposes us Angelenos to the movie industry. One of the most quintessential aspects of said industry is costume design. I think that many of us forget that right smack in the middle of DTLA resides one of the most influential fashion schools in the world- The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising also known as FIDM. Unbeknownst to me, FIDM also has a museum and gallery that dedicates itself to featuring exhibits centered around fashion, textiles and costumes. I was excited to learn that their Annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design Exhibit is in it’s 24th year at the FIDM Gallery in DTLA. This exhibit features more than 100 costumes from some of the most acclaimed films of 2015. The best part about this exhibit is not only the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the most exquisite costumes but to be able to do so for FREE.
I visited the Museum mid-day on a weekday and was surprised to find that there really is no formality when you arrive at the exhibit. I assume that because the exhibit is free, you can walk right on in without any type of ticketing or wristbands or anything to that affect. This may be different on the weekends but it was not at all crowded the day I visited. When you walk into the Museum the area on the right hand side is the gift shop and the area on the left hand side has huge writing on the wall that says “24th Art of Motion Picture Costume Design” and leads to the exhibit.
Through out the exhibit there are insights written on some of the walls about what it is like to work on set in the industry and the responsibilities that are placed upon costume designers and their teams. I highly suggest reading these since they provide eye opening accounts of what it takes to work in this creative yet demanding field. As you enter the gallery the first costume that you are going to see (and my most favorite of all the costumes displayed) is the dress worn by the title character in Disney’s 2015 live-action film Cinderella. The cornflower blue ball gown created by costume designer Sandy Powell is absolutely stunning! So stunning that Sandy Powell was nominated for her 12th Oscar for Best Costume Design for her work on this film. Pictures do not do this ball gown justice! You have to see it in person to really appreciate it! Read more about what it took to make this dress here.
My experience at the exhibit was incredible. Being able to see beautiful and intricate designs from some of the most acclaimed films and the most interesting characters in film is a reminder of how important costumes really are. These wearable pieces of art tell a story about who is wearing them. They often reflect a time in history, sometimes reflect the differentiation between characters and their social classes and often offer clues to the audience as to who is the protagonist and antagonist in a film. I mean, what would Star Wars be without Darth Vader’s ominous black robe and mask? What would The Wizard of Oz be without Glinda the Good Witch and her huge, sparkly pink ball gown? What would Indiana Jones be without his brown hat and brown leather jacket? Just like day to day attire, costumes in film tell a story and this unique exhibit has fashion and film lovers eager to hear more of those stories.
FIDM Museum 919 S. Grand Avenue Los Angeles, California 90015
Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
24th Annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design (Exhibit Dates: February 9th, 2016 – April 30, 2016) Exhibit Details on FIDM Website