FIDM 2006 Review
14th Annual Exhibition - The Art of Motion Picture Costume Design at FIDM
Once again we (those of us living in Los Angeles) get a chance to see
costumes from some of the most amazing films of the year. This marks the 14th
year that the costumes have been displayed by the Fashion Institute of Design
and Merchandising. They are filling the three rooms of their 10,000 square
foot Museum Galleries on the Park.
Monday, February 6 - Saturday, April 29, 2006
(Closed Easter weekend, April 14-16)
A Quick Review and Some Costume Details
FIDM's 14th annual exhibition of "the Art of Motion Pictures Costume
Design" is a treat for the eyes as always. The same basic layout
as the Star Wars exhibit has been reused but most of the rooms have been given
a makeover to present the best of the 2005 movie costumes. This year,
24 movies are represented by over 100 costumes. Anything from 3 to 10
items represent the movies. For the 2nd year, props have been included
in some of the displays.
As you go in the front door you see a few of the women's costumes from "The
Aviator", last year's winner. What catches your eye immediate though
is the large display from one of this year's Academy nominations, "Memories
of a Geisha". The kimono are a rich riot of color and texture.
There are multicolored decedent brocades right next to fantastic embroidery.
One that resembles the sea trains for a couple of feet. It's length is
arranged undulating waves magnifying it's beauty.
Around the corner, vaudeville and show girls dominate. Another
Oscar nominee, "Mrs. Henderson Presents" and "The Producers" share a
set. Each have a mundane dress of their era, but most are the showgirl
outfits, er, feathers, in some cases. Henderson outfits are finely
jeweled and beaded on flesh net. The ostrich feather fans are large
and beautifully dyed in shades of blue and turquoise. In
contrast, "The Producer" has girls in cheesy large gold beads and pearl drops,
perfectly matching to the over-broad strokes of it's story.
Directly opposite the dancing girls is a display from Peter Jackson's "King
Kong". This is one of my personal favorites for the year, so I spent
more time with this display. There are 5 outfits and a couple of
props. Carl Denham's rumpled island adventurer outfit is there with his
hand cranked camera. Jack Driscol is represented with the distressed
and bloodied version of the remains of suit he wears from the beginning of the movie
though the entire island romp. Three outfits represent three very
different sides of Ann Darrow. The first is her New York dinner
outfit, 3 shades of blue in crepe and knit. The blouse has details not
seen in the movie - delicate buttons down the front and decoratively
stitching that might be pin tucks. (It's great to get as close as a
couple of feet to the costumes, but you always want to get just a
couple of inches away. ) From the ship, is the beautiful beaded gown
from the sunset movie scene. Small copper beads on neck form a
delicate trim on the back as well as the textured straps. The
gown is so well constructed it's almost impossible to find any of the seams.
In the final scenes, Ann is a beauty wearing a bias cut off-white dress. The
surprise is that her dress is a very fine vintage silk velvet. The
sparkly bits are silver hot-fix appliqués in sunburst patterns.
The 3rd room of the display is very dark. This sets a nice mood for
"Batman Begins" and probably protects the latex and plastic of these suits.
However, this is also the room that all the Star Wars costumes are in.
Hopefully, you saw the costumes at the big exhibit last year, because you will not be
able to see anything here. The display is lit by the red floor
lights. Details and colors are non-existent. They end up looking
more like a group of mannequins stuffed in a dark corner instead of part of
the display. Hopefully this will be adjusted as the exhibit runs its
On the edge of this room, getting a bit more light, are the wonderful
costumes from "Serenity". The whole crew is represented in a wide
variety of texture, fabrics and colors. There's no need to even read
the tags to identify the crew since each is a unique personality. The nice thing is the close up detail
as well as the bigger strokes on pattern lines.
From there, the costumes move into fantasy. "Charlie and the
Chocolate Factory" are represented with the children and Willy Wonka's
outfits/ The corduroy of Willy's outfit is amazing. The children
are colorful. A large group are costumes are present form "The Chronicles of Narnia".
They were well tailored and the Winter Queen's dress fabric was interesting
to see up close, but seemed standard medieval-fantasy. Also, the
choices from "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" did not have the depth of
detail that some of the other HP films have had. They have fun twists on
mundane clothing, especially the formal dance outfits. They are
the movie, but just not as "textured" as in the past years. While in
this room, don't forget to turn around and check the wall. "The Corpse
Bride" displays 8 of the stop-motion puppets from the movie.
The next room has modern films. "Bewitched" dominates one wall.
Two of Endora's gowns are the highlight. They are beautifully tailored
and detailed with delicately beaded. The only costume from Samantha is
her green and black witch outfit, just as precisely tailored. It is on
mannequin sitting on a broom and rises about the other costumes in the
Their largest display room has a number of period costumes. "The New
World" is marvelously laid out across one whole wall decorated as a forest
background. The Indian costumes are wonders of leather, shells and
other natural items. You can spend 5 minutes just studying the shell
patterns worked onto the chief's cloak. Pocahontas is
represented though numerous periods of her life. One outfit is just a
few scraps of leather and many, many stands of beads. Her winter outfit
is a complex combination of furs minimally constructed, yet
warm and sexy at the same time. Among the props that include even a
shack, we see her "English" clothing as well - fine formal court clothing to
a simple corset, chemise and skirt outfit that looks like it's been worn in
the woods for 5 years.
The "Kingdom of Heaven" costumes were a nice surprise. While not
necessarily authentic fabrics, they were rich and fill with lots of
interesting details... and very beautiful besides.
The final display room is small and dimmer, but there are fun science
fiction costumes on both sides. There are a number of surprising
details to look at for both "Aeon Flux" and "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the
At the final end is the theater setup. There you get a chance
to see the trailers and watch the costumes in motion on bodies.
Because the dark theater is at the end, they are not using that door as an
exist this year, so reverse your path for a 2nd look at the outfits.
Accessibility notes: There are no benches inside. When
viewing the exhibit, and you need to take a break, there are chairs in the
theater, or you must exit to the benches in front of the building.
Because of the single directional setup from the previous exhibit... there
is no short cut to the back. And when you're done with the exhibit,
you must wind you way back to the front to exit. The advantage on this
exhibit, you do not have to pay even the service fee to get back in because
everything is free.
Parking has gotten tougher at FIDM on both the weekends and week days,
be prepared to circle around a lot to wait for curb parking to clear.
Be careful of hours and tow restrictions.