2007 Review

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FIDM 2007 Review

15th Annual Exhibition - The Art of Motion Picture Costume Design at FIDM

An exhibit review and costume details

Academy Award nominations are out!  Have you checked out the costumes yet?  This year the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising presents their 15th exhibit of motion picture costumes.  The Museum Gallery displays over 75 costumes from 27 movies this year.  

The exhibit staging has been opened back up so you have a choice of paths to view the costumes and don't have to worry about the log jams from the "Star Wars format" of the recent exhibits.  This year, they are back to displaying just the costumes.  There are a few wall decorated backgrounds, but not the props that richly accessorized the costumes as last year. 

This year they have the movie costumes from four of the five movies nominated for Academy Awards. "The Devil wears Prada" is missing from the exhibit because all the clothing from the movie was sold at charitable auctions already.

Last year's Oscar winner for costume design, "Memoirs of a Geisha" adorns the entrance of the exhibit with 3 wonderful kimono of rich brocades.  It is great to see these exquisite costumes again.

Five costume from "Marie Antoinette" line an appropriately painted cotton candy pink wall.  The lines of the five gowns are exquisitely clean constructed in beautiful silk satins.  However, the gowns detailing reflects the thin frothiness of the movie, a perfect but disappointing match.  The exhibit has changed for the original 5 gowns,  removing the pink/yellow gown to now include the wedding dress. The first gown "pale blue with red belt" is displayed backward to show the wonder fall of of the soft aqua satin.  A lot of fabric is pleated into the back and it flows gracefully  into the minimal train.  The belt is bright red velvet. Another gown is a creamy peachie pink.  There are two big bows on the front of the stomacher and the same bow on each sleeve. The third gown is "pink/purple gown with stripes".  The photos show this gown a rather bright pink but in person the stripping is much subtler, the colors are light and frothy, not bright.  The trim on this dress is thicker than most.  The edges of the rushing are pinked as are the sleeve "ruffles" which are made out of the same fabric as the dress with bits of soft tulle gather underneath.  I believe the fourth gown is normally called "white with fan" though it is another cream dress.  The trim is gathered layers of dark aqua satin frayed on the edges.  There's chiffon layers under it to give the satin body and a thin row of silver in the center of the gathers. (See more notes on Maggie's site.)

The big treat is in the main room.  There are the biggest displays including "The Curse of the Golden Flower".  Rich costumes represent court life in the Tang Dynasty.  The queens phoenix gown is layers of wonderful metallic gold and red fabrics. The brocades are over embroidered with added beads and metal bits. The elaborate golden crown of the phoenix that encircles the queen's hair looks like fine metal work in the trailer shots is finely  cast flexible plastic, probably silicone.  The royal armor which glimmers like hammered gold is also bits of cast plastic.  The armor is laced with an amazing golden cord with bits of jewels tones.  Shoulders are adorned with incredibly impractical but very detailed golden dragons.  The main court outfits took 40 artisans 2 months of work to construct.  The background includes an elaborate stair-stepped run with chrysanthemums strewed about the floor.

"The Queen" is represented by only 3 costumes.  According to the notes, almost all of Queen Elizabeth's outfits were made from scratch matching the mood and the time vs. going for an exact documentary match.  The costumes are...  a sturdy skirt and jacket for country wear and an asymmetrical formal suit.  Prince Philip's outfit is a wonderful kilt set. While the costumes are plain at first glace, the absolutely perfect tailoring of the wool in all the outfits stands out.  These costumes are all about the details from the top to the shoes.  They set time and mood.

The 5th nominee is is at the far end of the exhibit.  A set of the Dreams performance costumes are displayed.  The mannequins are wonderfully posed to represent the dances, but I wished  that instead of showing a like set, FIDM had been able to get 3 different outfits, showing the rich progression of the Dream's success as they moved from "home made" to world class stars.  The dresses show are from the about mid point in their success.  The fabric is a blue-white iridescence.  The glitter is enhanced with iron-on rhinestones.

The most elaborate display this year is Mel Gibson's Apocalypto.  There are 5 costumes in a framed displayed including the king & queen, high priest and the hero.  The king and queen both have amazing headpieces of feathers, woven mats and shaped designs.  Pheasant feathers have been dyed blue to represent the feathers of the sacred quetzal bird.  The king has more feathers than a Vegas show girl edging the headdress and a totem structure that goes up another foot and a half. (King, high priest, queen).  These costumes, while using Mayan motifs and bright turquoise and jade, bring to mind Egyptian royals from their wigs and beaded collars down to the stylized loincloths.  Wonderful details on  painted mannequins.

The main room's display also has a couple of yummy historical, "The Printed Veil" and "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer" .  These both underplay until you get close and see the detailing.  Wonderful detailing.  Be sure to check out the delicate embroidered detail on the lady's stomacher.  At the opposite end of the spectrum, the murder's outfit is so shredded, aged and degraded into rags that you expect it to smell of the London sewers.

A fun surprise was the three costumes from "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest".  Jack Sparrow is there in his grimy detail, but he is out shone by the wedding clothing of Will & Elizabeth.  In contrast to the first movie, their costumes are full of rich details.  Will's long leather coat has a lot of detailing.  His vest is constructed from an antique table linen. Elizabeth's wedding dress is dark ivory with rich detail.  The petticoat is a brocade bed spread.  The stomacher has small lace medallions with dozens and dozens of real freshwater seed pearls sewing onto them.

The Eragon display is very colorful, but the costumes are not really the ones expected.   There are five. The center piece is Eragon's dragon riding armor.  The vest is made of shaped leather with silver bits sewn on the asymmetrical front. Durza's outfit is on display too.  The base fabric is a rich red/black watermarked shot taffeta.  There are strips of leather detailing which have the edges pinked.  The other costumes are  Arya Guard Rider, Ajhad Warrior and Varden Woman.  The woman's costume is rich in golds, yellows and greens with lots of fringe.  Shells are used to trim part of the apron area.  It's very hard to see a lot of the details because this outfit is in the darkest room.

"Superman Returns" had a nice selection of costumes that represent the whole group.  Nice construction details on everything from the everyday outfits to the Superman costume.  Some special notes on the superman costume mention that the fabric used for the suit is milkskin which is stretched over a molded muscle suit.  The famous "S" on the shirt and his belt is constructed of molded latex.  There texture on the big "S" are dozens of mini laser cut S's.  The cloak is a specially woven wool. The underside/lining is the original color and texture.  The main side of the cloak has been painted with rubber to give it the fabric body and swish.  Net result, one good-looking but uncomfortable superhero.

The costumes from "The Fountain" highlight the color differences of the past and the future.  While the movie aimed for a palette of white and gold, it doesn't limit to just a couple of tones.  The 15th century dress is a vivid golden brocade.  There are lots of tricks used to give the richness of court without breaking the bank.  Look at how the modern laces are used and how trim substitutes for jewelry in some places.  Her future suit is wonderfully tailed cream wool with clean top stitched details and a number of asymmetric seams.

A couple of fun set of costumes not to miss are displayed right across from "The Fountain".  They're lesser known movies... but the outfits are quirky and have great bits of detail.  They're modern outfits, but for quirky folks and sub cultures:  "For Your Consideration" and "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift".  In that same area, they have a display for "Nanny McPhree".  Disapprovingly the only costumes are the kids basic outfits.

There are plenty of other outfits to visit in the other displays.  One corner is devoted to the  numerous World War II movies that are in their display this year.  There are more superhero and villain in the darkest room.

When you finish your tour, don't forget to check out their theatre and see how the same costume look on film.  It's an amazing transformation.

(See full exhibit details below.)

Note: if going to the exhibit to sketch... the  back rooms are very, very dark, assuming to protect the latex casting on the costumes.  It makes seeing some details almost impossible.... as even seeing the notes or sketches made is tough.  I suggest using one of those light-up pens so you can at least see your own work.

Accessibility:  Yea!  Benches from the very first day.  Also with their open layout, it's much easier to navigate,  especially if you're on wheals. Extra seating in the theatre and near the gift shop. Parking, limited on weekdays since the building is full.  If you have a handicap sticker, you may be able to find parking on the outside edge, but watch for the 'tow-away' times.

Basic FIDM Museum Information for 2007

bulletWhere: Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) - Museum Galleries on the Park
             919 South Grand Ave - 1st Level
             Los Angeles, CA 90015
             213-624-1200 x2221
bulletGallery information and map:
bullet http://www.fidm.edu/resources/museum+galleries/ 
bulletJanuary 29 - April 5, 2007
bullet10:00a.m. - 4:00p.m
bulletOpen President's Weekend
bulletAdmission is Free! 
bulletParking is under the building.
bulletThe 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.)
bulletNow-a-days this lot is full.  There is some on the street parking, but be very careful of the posted sign for all the restrictions.  There are lots cattycorner from FIDM.

2007's Exhibition Showcase:

2006 Movies Exhibited  Designers  
Memoirs of a Geisha  Colleen Atwood Winner 2006 Oscar
Apocalypto Mayes C. Rubeo  
Bobby Julie Weiss  
The Curse of the Golden Flower Yee Chung Man Nominee
Dreamgirls Sharen Davis Nominee
Eragon Kym Barrett  
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift Sanja Milkovic Hays  
Flags of Our Fathers Deborah Hopper  
For Your Consideration Durinda Wood  
The Fountain Renee April  
The Good German Louise Frogley  
The Holiday Marlene Stewart  
Idlewild Shawn Barton  
Infamous Ruth Myers  
Letters from Iwo Jima Deborah Hopper  
Marie Antoinette Milena Canonero Nominee
Monster House Ruth Myers  
Nanny McPhee Nic Ede  
The Painted Veil Ruth Myers  
Perfume: The Story of a Murder Pierre-Yves Gayraud  
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest Liz Dan & Penny Rose  
The Queen Consolata Boyle Nominee
Superman Returns Louise Mingenbach  
Ultraviolet Joseph Porro  
V for Vendetta Sammy Sheldon  

bulletNote: the garment district is right near by.  After you see the costumes, go on over to Maple and 9th and hit the fabric shops while details are fresh in your memory.
bulletPark on Maple just north of 9th... go up the ramp for our favorite parking spot.
bulletMore info from Alley Cat Scratch on the LA Garment District

We're talking about the exhibit over on the F-Costume Discussion List.  Come join us!  Also check when we have group visits planned.

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This page last updated 11/21/09


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