FIDM 7th Annual Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design Exhibit

Going strong after seven years, the annual Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design highlights a diverse group of designs. From contemporary to fantasy, this exhibit showcases some of the most talked about television in the past year. Guest curator Mary Rose, President of the Costume Designer’s Guild has compiled a lesson in costume design, mixing contemporary designs with grand historic pieces, giving the viewer a well rounded compilation of costume design in its many forms.

On arrival, first stop Game of Thrones, dramatic in storytelling and design, designer Michele Clapton has pulled from history and fantasy. Notes of Egyptian linens and doublets are intertwined with luscious textiles. Perfect for a Game of Thrones costume geek, the viewer can appreciate the design details that may be lost on screen. Center stage is Sansa Stark’s wedding dress, the hip is reminiscent of panniers, but there is no caning understructure, it is padded and the use of a heavy fabric keeps the shape. In person these costumes pack a punch, the brilliance of the textiles and design details adds to our already strong admiration for Game of Thrones. In contrast to Game of Thrones, a new media drama that is changing how we consume television is House of Cards.

Game of Thrones, Costume Designer Michele Clapton. (Brandon Clark/ABImages)

House of Cards, a Netflix original series has smashed through traditional television consumption and scored three big nominations, outstanding drama, lead actress, and lead actor. A gripping drama with beautiful contemporary costumes, costume designer Tom Broecker is wonderfully detailed, from a button down shirt fitting that lasted for hours to a classic sheath dress altered into a protective fashionable armor. Francis Underwood’s suits are Gieves & Hawkes a Savile Row establishment, the ultimate of power suits. Each are displayed for our excitement, and juxtaposed with other contemporary pieces from Nashville and Rectify. Both are modern day stories with distinct looks that showcase the vast diversity of contemporary costume designs. When there is contemporary there must be historic, an area of costume design highly celebrated.  

House of Cards, Costume Designer Tom Broecker. (Brandon Clark/ABImages)

Nashville, Costume Designer Susie DeSanto. (Brandon Clark/ABImages)

Rectify, Costume Designer Ane Crabtree. (Brandon Clark/ABImages)

Highly celebrated with good reason, the costumes from Mr. Selfridge and Downton Abbey are beauties. Mr. Selfridge’s costume designer James Keast stays within the boundaries of the Edwardian era, the costumes feel real and vintage. Downton Abbey, designed by Caroline McCall, takes the historic silhouette but plays with the details that are not of the day, this adds to the richness, drama, and glamour we all love to watch. 

Mr. Selfridge, Costume Designer James Keast. (Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)

Downton Abbey, Costume Designer Caroline McCall. (Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)

Downton Abbey, Costume Designer Caroline McCall. (Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)

Downton Abbey, Costume Designer Caroline McCall. (Marry Crawley Wedding Dress sleeve detail.)

On the historic spectrum but specific to one man, the costumes from Behind the Candelabra are shocking. Designed by Ellen Mirojnick, with just five weeks to pull together highly detailed costumes, Mirojnick excelled! These costumes are perfect for display, the details that are lost on screen can be appreciated, and the Liberace costumes are grandeur, from the lasagna costume to the white, 75 lb, 16 ft train coat, it is truly amazing!

Behind the Candelabra, Costume Designer Ellen Mirojnick. (Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)

Behind the Candelabra, Costume Designer Ellen Mirojnick. (Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)

There are so many special costumes in this exhibit; final favorites come from Girls, Parks and Recreation, and Ring of Fire. Designed by Jennifer Rogien, the costumes from Girls are fun and speak to the twenty-somethings of today. From Parks and Recreation, designed by Kirston Leigh Mann, Leslie Knope’s wedding dress and Pawnee Goddesses uniform is an exuberant and a perfect example of the character. Ring of Fire, designed by Rhona Meyers, who had to go to great lengths to convince Johnny Cash’s original tailor to tailor the suits, fantastic suits that appear to be taken right out of Johnny Cash’s closet. These are only a small example of the exciting pieces that are on display.

Girls, Costume Designer Jennifer Rogien. (Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)

Parks and Recreation, Costume Designer Kirston Leigh Mann. (Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)

Ring of Fire, Costume Designer Rhona Meyers. (Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)

Ring of Fire, Costume Designer Rhona Meyers. (Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)

Displaying 120 costumes from 15 different television shows, many of which are nominated, runs from July 30, 2013 to October 19, 2013, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and free.

Visit FIDM Museum and Galleries for more details.

Article by contributor Kristin Koga of Fashioned For The Geek.