Elves, Pirates and Samurai, Plus Pink!
of The Art of Motion Picture Costume Design, 2004
Here's an ultra quick review for the exhibit, but the costumes speak for
==by Cat Devereaux
The Fashion Institute of Design
and Merchandising (FIDM) puts on such a wonderful display with "The Art of Motion Picture Costume
Design". Their 2004 exhibit of the costumes of the films from 2003 is
always a treat. It it worth seeing even more than once.
This marks the 12th year that the costumes have been displayed by the Fashion
Institute of Design and Merchandising. They filled the three rooms of
their 10,000 square foot Museum Galleries on the Park.
Exhibit dates are Monday, February 2 - Thursday, April 8, 2004
Costumes from movies from 2003 will be on display. This is a not to be missed event.
There were over 100 costumes from the movies of 2003. These will
represent over 25 films, including Academy Award nominated films.
There were no docent tours any of the times that I was there this year, so I
have no review in the information presented this year. It would be nice if
printed plaques had a bit more info about the costumes. Everyone has their
special info and movie, but it would be nice to learn more details about these
To start... imagine coming off the elevator and running into a scale model of
The Black Pearl Pirate Ship... not your average, every day experience. It
measures over 21 feet long and14 feet tall. Totally amazing detail.
The layout had changed from the previous year but it worked quite well,
except for seating missing in the main room. (Hey, folks like to sketch
and detailed sketches take a while.)
The Academy Award Costume Nominee's
Almost all the academy award nominee's had wonderful displays. Right by the
front door, we see the "Girl with a Pearl Earring". The detailing on these
costumes goes down to hand stitching on the hem of the aprons... everything
above the hems are just as amazingly complete. Dien van Stalen picked up
wonderful historical details.
The Last Samurai
"The Last Samurai" displays on an island with wood and rice paper panels
separating the "room". The intricate armor was the work of teams of
people. The movie required approximately one million links for the armor.
|Tom Cruise's (Nathan Algren) Red & Black Samurai Armor, The
back of the Lady in Waiting at Court can be seen on the side
||Back of Tom Cruise's armor. Just the arm of Kyuki
Kato's (Taka) kimono.
||Ken Watanabe (Katsumoto) Black Samurai Armor
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. This movie's costumes
revolve around the
uniforms uniforms and many, many buttons tailored in wool. Only 4 costumes are in the display of 1805
Napoleonic Era English costumes. The detail is wonderful. While
the uniform purists will complain that they often wear too formal a uniform
for a given event and that the uniforms were just introduced in 1805, so would
these men, on "the far side of the world" really have the most up to date
uniforms... they still impress. Wendy Stites has made sure that even the
buttons are matched and proper. (Hushco Buttons is the place to help match
uniforms with the right time period.)
|Paul Bettany (Dr. Stephen Maturin) Ship's Surgeon is the
civilian on board. Further back is Russell Crow (Captain Jack Aubrey)
English Royal Marines Officer. White and Blue wool uniform.
||Next to him is Bill Boyd (Barrett Bonden) Coxswain (wearing
far less buttons.) And closest, Chris Larkins (Captain Howard) English
Royal Marines Officer uniform
"Seabiscuit" was a dark horse throughout the Academy race. Personally,
I expected them to once again sneak around the outside edge and steal the win.
The costumes cover 30 years of history. Principals and extras are dressed
so that time passes naturally, not in chunks. You never think of it as a
costumed picture. You just submerged totally within Judianna Makovsky's
clothing. The Jockey silks are even made by the same folks who made the
originals. The four costumes that are displayed just can't bring
this to life. They are perfect, but it's always a challenge for costumes
from the last century to compete against historic epics or musicals.
The Academy Award for Costumes winner: LOTR: Return of the King
"The Lord of the Rings the Return of the King" display was laid out against a
dioramic display of the walls of Gondor, complete with more guards in the
background. The costumes ran the gambit from the elven white glow of
Galadriel though the coronation costumers to real baddies at the far side.
Ngila Dickson, Richard Thomas and the whole team outdid themselves though the
The most amazing thing about this entire movie is that the costumes create a
universe of their own. You could almost believe that these races exist.
Each race has their own rules for dress and even among the groups of men, we see
regional differences. We see history that builds on history. A great
additional feature is that the costumes hold up to close examination. You
want to bring a magnifying glass even though you can get within 6 inches of so
Much of the armor is metal. yet, it's hard to tell the plastic from the
real. The painting, texturing and detailing just bring them to life.
The fabrics get as much attention as the armor. The dye jobs give a
translucent look to the velvets. Galadriel "glow" comes partially from the
light green wash over her gown. Arwen's spring toned gown is almost
impossible to define because of the dyeing and over dyeing. Embroideries
cover many edges and add depth. Other times it is glorious antique bullion trim.
|Galadriel is an elven queen in glowing silk
satin embroidered cloak worn over a silk beaded dress - Grey Heavens Cloak
and Prolog Gown.
||Pippin in Gondorian livery. Merry in some of
the armor of Rohan. Amazing baldric and armor details.
|Aragorn, the Returned King and Arwen, who
will abandon her elven life. are together now at his coronation. Both
outfits have layers of velvet and amazing crowns
||Eowyn wears yards of brocade. The
"trim" is really just embroidered directly on the fabric. However,
this allows for the scale to be adjusted by computer and created on a
|Pippin serves Gondor
||Gondorian armor in the background
||King of the Dead with patchwork chain mail
and "heavily distressed" consuming.
For more images of these costumes, you may head on over to our companion
website, LOTR Costume and
check them out in the
The rest of the wonderful movie costumes...
The Haunted Mansion's 10 costumes dominated the 2nd gallery. Walt
Disney Pictures sent quite a display. Living beings on one side, and a
grave yard full of painfully "period" ghost costumes. The room was
darkened and flashlights were provided to show how the costumes were set to
change their look between black light and white. However, even the
darkness could not hide the kitchy, costumy nature of the ghost. These
were just broad strokes at approximating a period that felt more like a cartoon.
Great for kids, but no depth. The historical proper ghosts of Harry Potter
"live' so much more than this graveyard.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Disney's other presentation, "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the
Black Pearl" suffered from someone the same issue. Fun background of
props. The principal's costumes was outstanding detail. Johnny
Depp's Jack Sparrow pirate is detailed down to the buckles on the front
fall breeches. His outfit is wonderfully weathered, yet the energy isn't
expended anywhere else. Orlando's outfit is OK, but Barbossa's
costume lacks detail and looks like just a costume, not clothing. This is
something seen on the screen, not just in person. In notes it discuses
"the pirates' costumes represent a hodge-podge of period garments that
illustrates their unusually long careers at sea": However, this seems
little excuse for Keira Knightly's (Elizabeth Swann) gowns. They are an
indeterminate mix of periods. While lovely workmanship, they would have
benefited with the richness of some historical details. (IMHO)
|Johnny Depp (Jack Sparrow)
|Keira Knightly (Elizabeth Swann) Cream and Gold Brocade
||Keira Knightly (Elizabeth Swann) Pale yellow silk gown
with couching details
|Orlando Bloom (Will Turner)
||Geoffrey Rush (Barbossa) and just the edge of Keira's fun
"Legally Blond 2: Red, White and Blond" is grand fun... and precisely
tailored and executed. It's just flat out fun with Pink and Olive and
strappy shoes with an early 70's flare mixed with Jackie O. This is
definitely a movie about shoes.
"Cold Mountain" and "The Missing" blend as almost one exhibit... then again,
one must know the difference between 1861 civil war torn North Carolina and 1885
southwest. These costumes are all amazingly aged to show the poverty and
despair that the characters go though. The aging on some of these outfits
is amazing... and I'm not even going to try and guess if some of the props were
original garments or not. The fabric were well chosen and the patterns
very precise to the times. The Indian costumes of "The Missing" show the
force bending of the costumes at that time.
This time round, FIDM had a niche of super hero costumes positioned together.
"Matrix Revolutions" blacks and long coats showed amazing tailoring. Keanu
Reeve Neo black wool cloak is great. The tailoring lines cheat to
give him a longer neck while keeping him sleek... the perfect world
savior. There were actually 30 coats made, many were different materials
and different cuts to give just the right look at the right time.
"Daredevil" and "X2: X-men United" has more finely tailored, form fitting
leather and muscle suits. Once it was though though we'd live in silver
suits in the future, now it's leather and jump suites with no visible means of
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
"The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" is a different kind of super hero
movie. It's a weird blend of Victorian and modern. While these
costumes did not all have the details of the leather suits, they have their own
|The Invisible man (nude) - see card on left. On the
right, the Submarine Diver's rubber diving suit with great Victorian
||More detail on the diver
|Dorian Grey and Mina Harker. The pictures do not do
the coat justice. Outfit is listed as "black corduroy redingote coat
with red velvet scarf
|Mina gets a corset built of laced together tooled leather
pieces. The rest of the under layers are nothing but sheer lace and
Just a few quick impressions of other costume displays that a jotted down in
|"Charlie's Angels" is as much about clothing as Legally Blond. Their
wild and crazy dressing works better on screen than in person... but then
again, that's the idea.|
|"The Cat in the Hat's" lime and lavender pastels clashed with the primary
red of the cat himself helping create a cartoon world from real life.|
|"Down with Love". I loved the wild 60's, but I'm not sure the
costumes ever got that crazed... but it would have been fun.|
|"Chicago", last year's Oscar winner, was displayed in the center of
the main gallery right across from LOTR. Wish they hadn't been so close
together. Chicago costumes are mostly for "reading" on screen"... vs.
LOTR's which also read as well with a microscope. Still fun... to see
them again, but... different placement????|
As a wrap-up, again, there was no exhibit book... but that is the sad state
of affairs since it's so hard to get permissions and get it published in any
kind of timeline... It would be great to preserve this gathering of
costumes for history.
FIDM's exhibit website for 2004 is now up.
out. This year their web pictures are big enough to see the costumes
well. Pul-outs of some of the wonderful detail add to the richness of the
|Monday February February 2 - Thursday April 8, 2004|
|Monday - Saturday, 10:00am to 4:00 pm|
|Group docent tour may be arranged.|
|Where: Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) - Museum Galleries
on the Park|
919 South Grand Ave - 1st Level
Los Angeles, CA 90015
|Gallery information and map:
|Admission is Free!
|Parking under the building is $6, Saturdays, $3.|
|The only way to get into the lot is on 9th street going east from the
110 freeway. (Just passed Flower and Hope, on the right side.)|
Full list of the costumes displayed for 2004: Big Fish, Charlie's Angels:
full Throttle, Cold Mountain, Daredevil, Down with Love, Dr. Seuss' the Cat in
the Hat, Elf, Girl with a Pearl Earring, Legally Blond 2: Red, White and Blond,
Lost in Translation, Master and Commander: the far side of the World, Mona
Lisa Smile, Pirates of the Caribbean: the Curse of the Black Pearl, Seabiscuit,
Sylva, The Company, The Haunted Mansion, The Last Samurai, The League of
Extraordinary Gentlemen, Lord of the Rings: The Return of a King, The Matrix
Revolutions, The Missing, The Notebook, View from the Top, X2:x-men
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