Costume design is an integral part of filmmaking. Whether the story takes place in a realistic setting or a dystopian future, the costumes can make or break your movie. (Just ask David E. Kelley’s Wonder Woman pilot.) Recently we were invited to attend the 22nd Annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design Exhibition at the FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising) Museum in Los Angeles. The exhibition is a showcase of some of the breathtaking costume work in select films of 2013, including 2012’s Academy Award winner for Best Costume Design, Jacqueline Durran, who won for Anna Karenina.
As we examined some of the costumes on display, we noticed that the exhibition featured everything from vintage dresses to dresses made to look like they’re of a certain era to futuristic armor from alien planets. FIDM Vice President and Museum Director Barbara Bundy shared that the FIDM Museum aimed for an eclectic exhibition that included a variety of genres and time periods. “We took one gallery and turned it into superheroes because it’s become such an influence in everything we do today. The great thing about being a superhero costume designer is, you don’t worry about a period. You can be as creative as you want.”
The beauty of a place like FIDM stems from its ability to bring all of these ideas and aesthetics together, and allow those who made them to find their voice. “We think it’s extremely important to celebrate the artist’s costume design,” Bundy agreed, “because it is such an art. It creates the character in the movie. It’s an inspiration to our students and to other fashion and costume designers. It culls a lot of different artists and this, our museum, is a gift to the community. We never charge admission and we invite the public to come and see it.”
The growing popularity of costume design owes a lot to the Internet. Though more and more people are cropping up with their own designs and going straight to the marketplace, Bundy is not concerned about FIDM becoming obsolete. “Everybody knows about fashion… Until we live in a clothing-optional world, we have to figure out how to put ourselves together. And I think that one way that we’ve learned is, through film and through live performance and through magazines and through the Internet, we see what different people are doing, and many times it’s influenced by what we see in the movies.”
“I think that Gatsby [last] year is the perfect example of that,” she continued. “All of a sudden the movie was released and everything was looking ‘20s. Lots of bling, lots of fun party dresses. They do influence us. I also think that American Hustle and the slinkiness has been and will probably continue to be an influence on fashion.”
Ultimately though, Bundy believes that “the Internet does nothing but help fashion. There are so many different websites, and things like Pinterest and Instagram where it captures immediately what’s happening in fashion and it shows up on the Internet. Many of the designers are streaming their fashion shows, so, where you would have to wait in the past until the magazine editor selected 1 or 2 looks to print in a magazine, you see it [at] exactly the same time as the customers of that designer are seeing it. I think we’ve turned a lot of people into a lot more creative dressers that experiment with fashion and want to become more involved in it.”
Check out the costumes for yourself! The 22nd Annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design Exhibition is located at the FIDM Museum in downtown L.A., and runs through April 26th, 2014.