Lily Absinthe & Movie Costumes, Part I

Today we decided to take some time off and visit the 24th Annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising Museum in Downtown Los Angeles. This is an annual event that features costumes from some of the top films of 2015 on display where you can see them up close and personal (and the best part is that it’s free). There were costumes from a number of films but the ones that caught our attention were from Crimson Peak, Cinderella, The Hateful Eight, and The Revenant.


A sampling of the posters from the movies whose costumes were on display.


The best part was that there were not a lot of people, the benefit of viewing the exhibition on a weekday.

One pleasant about the exhibit was that most of the costumes were easily viewed and only a few were set so far back that you couldn’t make out the details. Also, in many cases it was possible to view the costumes from various angles so you could see the sides and rear. Finally, we always recommend going to these sorts of exhibits on a weekday: that way you avoid the crowds and people aren’t getting in the way as you’re trying to get pictures or otherwise view the costumes.

Where to start? Well, in contrast to our usual focus, we’ll start by looking at the costumes from The Hateful Eight. While we are not hardcore fans of Quentin Tarantino, we did find the costuming to be imaginative and the costumes definitely set the characters apart. Also very noteworthy was the use of distressing to age the costumes- distressing is a real art form and it takes a lot of thought to get this right (otherwise it simply looks like someone ran over the costume with a car a few times).

Here we see a basic frock coat that’s definitely had some mileage put on it:


Full Image


Close-Up. Note the mending on the right sleeve.

What is notable about this coat is the variety of wear and tear that it displays. There’s lending on the right sleeve, the area around one of the button holes has been reinforced, the collar has been modified by the addition of fur trim, and the extra wear around the shoulders. Another detail are the Revolutionary War Era Continental Army buttons- whether this was a deliberate choice by the costume designer or simply because it looked “old” is hard to tell but it’s definitely archaic for a movie set in the early 1870s.

Here are a few more images:

The next set of costumes that caught our attention were those from the movie Cinderella. Here the emphais is definitely on the fantastical with a mash-up of styles. Starting with the heroine Cinderella, the gown from the climactic ball scene is featured:



Close-Up of the bodice.

The lines of the ball gown are relatively simple and style-wise, the silhouette is definitely rooted in the 1860s although the dress is fluid and free-flowing without the rigid crinoline. While it the dress apppears to be a pale blue from a distance, the skirt is actually a combination of lavender, blue, and sheer iredescent white while the bodice is of a matching shade of blue to the skirt. Below is a better picture of the skirt treatment:


Overall, it simple yet delivers a fantasitical fairy tale effect without looking contrived or being over-the-top. In many respects, this would actually serve as a good basis for a wedding gown. 🙂

Still from the movie.

It could be argued that it’s often easier to design a costume for the hero than it is for the villain but the costume designer handled it well. It would be easy to simply design a garment that simply emphasized the villain’s negative qualities but here the designer took a more subtle approach:


Here we can a definite 1940s influence and especially in the silhouette. The skirt employs several layers of green ranging from an absinthe-like color to dark green and black in the background. The bodice is jeweled with sequins and uses a brigher shade of abinthe green. Now, while the effect is one of sheer 1940s-esque elegance, one cannot help but be reminded of the bright green “arsenic” dresses of the mid-19th Century- beautiful to look at but extremely toxic to the wearer and anyone who came in contact with them. It says the same about the character: beautiful but deadly not only to others but even to herself and who ultimately reveals her ugliness as a person.

On a ligher note are the dresses for the two daughters, each one a mirror image of the other in pink/salmon and yellow:


In contrast to the stepmother’s sophisticated dress, the two daughters’ dresses are completely childish, reflecting their empty nature. It creates a contrast between the calculating stemmother and the two empty-headed daughters. Finally, here’s a group shot of all three:

In out next installment, we’ll continue our visit to include costumes from Crimson Peak. Stay tuned!

(To be continued…)


2 thoughts on “Lily Absinthe & Movie Costumes, Part I

  1. Pingback: LILY ABSINTHE & MOVIE COSTUMES, PART II | Lily Absinthe

  2. Pingback: LILY ABSINTHE & MOVIE COSTUMES, PART III | Lily Absinthe

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