So many people are involved in the making of today’s films, each individual a part of some extension of the film industry. Perhaps one of the most unnoticed branches include costume designers, who design and dress the actors who perform the stories millions go to see in theaters, adding infinitely more to their personalities and appearances through the smallest details, from green rain boots to the yellow ball gowns.
The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) Museum is hosting the 26th annual “Art of Motion Picture Costume Design” exhibition, displaying over 120 costumes from 23 different movies released in 2017. The five 2018 Academy Award Nominees for Costume Design are also being featured, such as “The Shape of Water” and “Victoria and Abdul”, and the exhibit has chosen to honor and include the costumes from last year’s winner, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”
Visitors will be able to experience every costume for themselves, and are invited to join in the celebration of these chosen costume designers. FIDM invited a group of editors from the New University paper to the opening of the exhibition, and they were more than delighted to come. Following are some of their favorites to give our readers a taste of what they can see if they choose to visit as well.
It was amazing seeing all the costumes up close. The level of detail is incredible and you can see all the hard work the costume designer has put into these clothes. It was also interesting to be at this event where all the focus is put on the behind the scenes work instead of the famous actors and actresses.
One of my favorite displays was definitely Wonder Woman. The mannequins were created in the likeness of the actor who wore the outfit so I could imagine them actually standing in front of me. The costumes also looked more comfortable than they did in the film, which was surprising to me.
Another exquisitely detailed piece in the exhibit was Dame Judi Dench’s gown from “Victoria & Abdul.” From the tiara, to the brooches, to the delicately stitched lace gloves, every piece is there for a reason and contributes to the overall ensemble.
I also recently saw “Pitch Perfect 3” so it was very cool to see those costumes in person. I took so many pictures from various angles so I could show my family and friends. They really don’t do it justice though. I highly recommend this to all cinephiles and fashionistas if you get the chance to go before the exhibit closes on April 7.
Walking into the room, I could feel the excitement buzzing around the surrounding displays of costumes and creativity that filled the space. The exhibit was crowded with people from all walks of life it seemed, and I wished I knew who was who in the world of costume design so I could recognize the extraordinary work that went into each piece. I had seen which films were being represented in the museum, so I was anxious to start making my rounds.
My favorite outfits to see were the ones from the movies I most enjoyed from the past year. The one piece of exhibit I hurried in to see, besides the main “Wonder Woman” display, was “Thor: Ragnarok.” You could see the grand black-horned crown of the goddess Hela all the way from the entrance, as the platinum green and black costume on the mannequin loomed over those passing by. She drew you straight in at first sight, standing in front, almost leading the costumed figures behind her, such as Thor and Loki. Mayes C. Rubeo did an amazing job, with Director Taika Waititi lending a creative hand in its development as well.
Another dazzling costume was the magnificent dress of Jenny Lind from “The Greatest Showman,” which she wore for her ‘Never Enough’ performance. Besides the beautiful length and shine of the gown, it was the matching cloak which took breaths away. It was an article of clothing audiences didn’t really get to see in the movie, so having it on display here is a special treat for visitors. Shimmering beads were grouped together inmultiple patterns across the back of the off-white cloak, making the talented vocalist’s outfit just as magnificent as the song she performs in the film. Placed beside the remaining costumes of Hugh Jackman’s P.T. Barnum and Zendaya’s acrobat Anne Wheeler, the creativity and grandeur of the film is wonderfully expressed in each piece on display, thanks to designer Ellen Mirojnick.
The first time I heard the story of Billie Jean King, it entranced me as a fantastical tale of female empowerment, one that emboldened the chubby but promising tennis player I thought I was when I was 12 years old. Seeing that story brought to life by two of my favorite actors (Emma Stone and Steve Carell) in “Battle of the Sexes” (which chronicles the first singles tennis match between a woman and a man) was the near-perfect coalescence of my love for the game of tennis and my infatuation with the 1970’s.
At FIDM, seeing the full-body tennis dresses with classic 70’s collars and floral patterns accompanied with old-school wooden rackets (which are pretty much a terror to play with — I speak from personal experience) brought on a sense of nostalgia and longing I didn’t know I was capable of experiencing.
In the exhibit, Billie Jean King’s pristine white dress is juxtaposed with Bobby Rigg’s bright yellow jacket, branded with the words “Sugar Daddy,” an ode to the real life Rigg’s misogynistic and egotistical demeanor. The costumes are an ode to yesteryear, a time of tremendous change and an older generation of feminists (more through circumstance than by choice) whose efforts feel, potentially, even more important today than ever.
To see the costume pieces that danced, fought, swayed, and sat on the backs of the acting greats of the world sitting motionless on manikins in a museum was way more exciting than it should have been. In a lot of cases, the detail and hard work that went into making these costumes is only visible up close and this view is what the FIDM costume design exhibition provides. My personal favorite part of the exhibit is the display of the costumes from I, Tonya. Jennifer Johnson, who designed the costumes, had to be sure that they matched Tonya Harding’s actual skating gear while still making them dazzle on the big screen. And they’re even sparklier in person.
The sheer amount of detail and craftsmanship put into both Belle’s and the Beast’s attire is something rarely seen in the movie, what with the dance scene that is as old and enchanting as time. The bodice of her signature yellow dress was sequined with tiny dots of glitter embroidered into the light taffeta looking material. Looking at it was as magical as spinning and flying about the dance floor as it must have been for Emma Watson — one could just imagine the sequins and sparkles glittering. The details of Belle’s necklace surprised me, as that is one ornament that viewers don’t get to see much detail of in the film. The pendant, a gleaming bronze-gold, is only big enough to fit in the palm of your hand and shaped to look like a vine weaved with flowers and leaves. The chain is a bronze ribbon. I felt like a princess just looking at the costume.
The Beast’s outfit was every bit as grand as it looked in the film. The suit jacket is a deep navy blue with clusters of vibrant bronze vines snaking up around the buttons. The white cufflinks and necktie bring together the whole princely look, perfect for the final dance scene when we get to see the Beast in his true form.
The entire costume ensemble was magnificent, and every bit as enchanting as one would hope from a Disney favorite.
From every part of the exhibition, the costumes shown were exciting to behold, whether it be the intricately created pieces from “Phantom Thread” or the familiar pink-tulle prom dress from “Lady Bird.” And there are so many more outfits and details to enjoy once you have arrived to the museum.
The exhibit opened up to the public on the 5th of February, and will be up and running until Saturday, April 7th. If you appreciate any kind of intricate detail from your favorite movies, or simply wish to some part of the past year’s films come to life, come visit FIDM (for free) to truly appreciate the creativity of the costume design industry.