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
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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