23rd Annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design at the FIDM Museum

By Brianne Gillen - February 9, 2015

The FIDM Museum (at Los Angeles' Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising) opens its 23rd annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design exhibit this week, featuring many of the highlights in costume design from the past year of film. As always, the exhibit features a broad cross-section of movies, celebrating the hard work and artistry of the designers. Almost a year's worth of planning goes into this wonderful event, as the curators put together an array of costumes that span all genres - from period pieces to fantasy epics to contemporary stories - in order to give the public a glimpse at details they may have missed on the big screen. This year, the exhibit features all five Academy Award nominees for costume design, and over 100 costumes from 23 films. There are even innovative (and very tiny) costumes on display from the world of animation, Deborah Cook's designs from The Boxtrolls.

"Boxtrolls" costumes by Costume Designer, Deborah Cook. These costumes can be seen in the 23rd Annual "Art of Motion Picture Costume Design" exhibition, FIDM Museum. (Photo: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)

 

Upon entering the exhibit, one of the first sights is the iconic silhouette of one of the most recognizable Disney villains, from this year's retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story, Maleficent, starring Angelina Jolie. Academy Award-nominated costume designers Anna B. Sheppard and Jane Clive remained true to the character's overall look from the animated film, and added interesting layers to the costume. Maleficent's gown features an enormous train, trimmed with a wide border of soft, distressed leather. Even on the mannequin, the costume makes an imposing statement. Sheppard and Clive also added beautiful details to the supporting characters' costumes. These characters wore more colorful woven fabrics than the lead, and were trimmed and embroidered with floral accents and patterns.

"Maleficent" costumes by Costume Designer, Anna B. Sheppard. These costumes can be seen in the 23rd Annual "Art of Motion Picture Costume Design" exhibition, FIDM Museum. (Photo: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)

Train detail. "Maleficent" costumes by Costume Designer, Anna B. Sheppard. These costumes can be seen in the 23rd Annual "Art of Motion Picture Costume Design" exhibition, FIDM Museum. (Photo: Brianne Gillen)

"Maleficent" costumes by Costume Designer, Anna B. Sheppard. These costumes can be seen in the 23rd Annual "Art of Motion Picture Costume Design" exhibition, FIDM Museum. (Photo: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages) 

Embroidery detail. "Maleficent" costumes by Costume Designer, Anna B. Sheppard. These costumes can be seen in the 23rd Annual "Art of Motion Picture Costume Design" exhibition, FIDM Museum. (Photo: Brianne Gillen)

Another of the exhibit's highlights is the display of costumes from The Grand Budapest Hotel, which earned Milena Canonero an Academy Award nomination. The film features a bright, saturated color palette and a unique aesthetic. Up close, the costumes feature subtle intricacies, which adds even more dimension to the designs. Tilda Swinton's ensemble is particularly impressive, with its embossed velvet and almost comical fur collar. Even the plain garb worn by Saoirse Ronan has surprising detail in its shabbiness, and Edward Norton's uniform is ostentatious despite its monochromatic first impression.

“The Grand Budapest Hotel” costumes by Costume Designer, Milena Canonero. These costumes can be seen in the 23rd Annual "Art of Motion Picture Costume Design" exhibition, FIDM Museum. (Photo: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)

“The Grand Budapest Hotel” costumes by Costume Designer, Milena Canonero. These costumes can be seen in the 23rd Annual "Art of Motion Picture Costume Design" exhibition, FIDM Museum. (Photo: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)

Costume detail. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” costumes by Costume Designer, Milena Canonero. These costumes can be seen in the 23rd Annual "Art of Motion Picture Costume Design" exhibition, FIDM Museum. (Photo: Brianne Gillen)

 

It is always interesting to see the remarkable detail that goes into the costumes for many of the sci-fi and fantasy films. Because these stories involve so much action, the nuances of the costumes can often be overlooked, but there is an enormous amount of work that goes into each piece. Alexandra Byrne's designs for Guardians of the Galaxy feature multi-textured layers and uniquely embossed leather. For X-Men: Days of Future Past, Louise Mingenbach designed superhero suits for characters in both the future and the 1970s, but gave them all a cohesive look. The suits are sturdy but flexible, giving the actors needed mobility.

 "Guardians of the Galaxy" costumes by Costume Designer, Alexandra Byrne. These costumes can be seen in the 23rd Annual "Art of Motion Picture Costume Design" exhibition, FIDM Museum. (Photo: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)

Costume details. "Guardians of the Galaxy" costumes by Costume Designer, Alexandra Byrne. These costumes can be seen in the 23rd Annual "Art of Motion Picture Costume Design" exhibition, FIDM Museum. (Photo: Brianne Gillen) 

"X-Men: Days of Future Past" costumes by Costume Designer, Louise Mingenbach.  These costumes can be seen in the 23rd Annual "Art of Motion Picture Costume Design" exhibition, FIDM Museum. (Photo: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)

Even a family comedy like Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb can provide an interesting challenge for a costume designer. The exhibit displays Marlene Stewart's costumes from the film, which had to include several different time periods and historical figures. The rich velvets and colorful leather of King Arthur and Guinevere stand side-by-side with the traditional garb of Egyptian royalty.

"Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb" costumes by Costume Designer, Marlene Stewart. These costumes can be seen in the 23rd Annual "Art of Motion Picture Costume Design" exhibition, FIDM Museum. (Photo: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)

 

A big theme in film this past year has been the telling of true stories, particularly from the 20th century, and that is definitely reflected in this exhibit. Costumes from two musical biopics are featured - Sharen Davis' designs from Get on Up, about the legendary James Brown, and Deborah Hopper's from the story of the Four Seasons, Jersey Boys. Both designers had the responsibility of capturing the looks of well-known music icons and rooting them in the context of their stories, and each did a wonderful job.

"Get on Up" costumes by Costume Designer, Sharen Davis. These costumes can be seen in the 23rd Annual "Art of Motion Picture Costume Design" exhibition, FIDM Museum. (Photo: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)

“Jersey Boys” costumes by Costume Designer, Deborah Hopper. These costumes can be seen in the 23rd Annual "Art of Motion Picture Costume Design" exhibition, FIDM Museum. (Photo: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)

 

Musicians were not the only biopic subjects this year. Steven Noble captured the essence of renowned physicist Stephen Hawking and his wife Jane in The Theory of Everything. For The Imitation Game, designer Sammy Sheldon Differ gave Keira Knightley's Joan Clarke a comfortable, realistic World War II-era style, with soft sweaters and muted colors.

"The Theory of Everything" costumes by Steven Noble.  These costumes can be seen in the 23rd Annual "Art of Motion Picture Costume Design" exhibition, FIDM Museum. (Photo: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)

“The Imitation Game” costumes by Sammy Sheldon Differ´┐╝. These costumes can be seen in the 23rd Annual "Art of Motion Picture Costume Design" exhibition, FIDM Museum. (Photo: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)

 

Ruth E. Carter helped bring Martin Luther King, Jr., to life with her beautiful designs for Selma. She is not new to costuming well-known figures, having received previous Academy Award nominations for Malcolm X and Amistad, as well as designing the life stories of Tina Turner and Ty Cobb. Carter was kind enough to speak to Tyranny of Style at the exhibit's opening night, and talked about working on biopics. "I think that they are important," she said. "I feel like they're important stories to tell; I'm honored to tell them, especially one about Martin Luther King." Carter also expressed her joy about being included in the exhibit: "I'm happy to be here tonight. Last year I missed it, so I'm so excited to come tonight." (Her costumes from The Butler were showcased in 2014's display.)

"Selma" costumes by Costume Designer, Ruth E. Carter. These costumes can be seen in the 23rd Annual "Art of Motion Picture Costume Design" exhibition, FIDM Museum. (Photo: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)

"Selma" costumes by Costume Designer, Ruth E. Carter.  These costumes can be seen in the 23rd Annual "Art of Motion Picture Costume Design" exhibition, FIDM Museum. (Photo: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)

 

The FIDM Museum always does a phenomenal job of putting the often-overlooked art of costume design in the spotlight. In its 23-year history, the annual tradition has grown exponentially, especially in the last several years, as the design community has begun to get more well-deserved recognition. It will be exciting to see this event continue to grow in the future.

"Gone Girl" costumes by Costume Designer, Trish Summerville. These costumes can be seen in the 23rd Annual "Art of Motion Picture Costume Design" exhibition, FIDM Museum. (Photo: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)

“Inherent Vice” costumes by Costume Designer, Mark Bridges. These costumes can be seen in the 23rd Annual "Art of Motion Picture Costume Design" exhibition, FIDM Museum. (Photo: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)

"Into the Woods" costumes by Costume Designer, Colleen Atwood. These costumes can be seen in the 23rd Annual "Art of Motion Picture Costume Design" exhibition, FIDM Museum. (Photo: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)

"Mr. Turner" costumes by Costume Designer, Jacqueline Durran. These costumes can be seen in the 23rd Annual "Art of Motion Picture Costume Design" exhibition, FIDM Museum. (Photo: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)

 

The Art of Motion Picture Costume Design runs February 10 - April 25, 2015, Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is free. The FIDM Museum is located on the campus of the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, 919 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90015. For more information, please visit http://fidmmuseum.org.