Off To The FIDM Museum

Art of Motion Picture Costume Design Exhibition

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oday we decided to get out of the house and make our annual pilgrimage to the 27th Motion Picture Costume Design Exhibition at the FIDM Museum and enjoy the sunny weather in Downtown Los Angeles. First impressions? From a purely historical perspective, there wasn’t a lot going on this year. However, that said, there was a variety of exciting designs and being able to view the costumes up close in person was fascinating.

First up, are two from the movie Aquaman:

 

This is completely outside of what we do but just the combination of colors caught our eye and they definitely suggest an ocean environment. And speaking of color, here’s a gown from Ocean’s Eight:

The magenta/pink dress color just screams “shocking” in the Schiaparelli tradition and it’s a visual treat to look at. The combination gown with cape is amazing and it’s definitely an eye-catcher. The embroidery was especially striking although we were unable to get a close view of the train. Here’s some more:

Just for contrast, here’s another exquisite gown from the movie but only in shades of green:

The display lighting washes out the shades of green somewhat but trust me, in person they are deep jewel tones and the contrast between the magenta/pink of the first gown and this one is amazing.

Shifting gears a bit, we came across the Old West in the form of several outfits from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs:

In contrast to Ocean’s Eight, the wardrobe here is down to earth, practical, and perfectly fitting with the Old West, with the exception of Buster Scrugg’s outfit which was meant to stand out larger than life.

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And then for something a bit more fantastical, there are these outfits from the remake of Mary Poppins Returns:

Because the lighting wasn’t the best, here’s a better view of this outfit that we lifted off the net:

And then there’s this outfit:

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The styles are certainly interesting, more of an Edwardian “esq” style that anything that’s necessary period correct but hey, it’s meant to be fantastical so there you are. In keeping with the fantastical nature of the movie, here’s some more:

And just for completeness, the costume sketch:

At first, we weren’t sure of what we were looking at- much of the detail on these two outfits was actually painted on, especially for the  women’s dress where all the ruffles are actually painted on. Really! It fooled us at first. After doing a little research, we found out that these were part of an animated/live action musical number in the movie (we haven’t actually seen the movie so we apologize for any omissions). Finally one style note on the above women’s dress- it’s actually more reminiscent of a 1880s style than Edwardian. 🙂

Finally, we conclude with this simple walking outfit from Colette:

Probably the most “historical” of the outfits we viewed (that fits into the 19th Century) and it’s the quintessential day outfit characteristic circa 1900. Here it is from the movie itself, at least for the jacket and skirt:

This has been a somewhat subjective account of our excursion and we freely admit that with the exception of The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and Colette, we haven’t seen any of the other movies but we fully intend to in the future. Hopefully 2019 will see some more period pieces released. 🙂

 

And It’s That Time Again- Lily Absinthe Goes To The FIDM Museum, Part 2

12th Annual Art of Television Costume Design

And to wrap things up, here’s some more commentary on our latest trip to view the 12th “Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design Exhibit” at the FIDM Museum in Los Angeles. After viewing the wardrobe from The Alienist, we then moved on to viewing the latest wardrobe installment from Game of Thrones:

FIDM Museum

First up is one of Daenary’s winter looks…not your typical medieval fur coat look.

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FIDM Museum

Power dressing for Sansa…

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FIDM Museum

Cersei’s latest look…

And then we saw some interesting outfits from Season 3 of Westworld:

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We have to admit that although we pretty much lost interest in the show after the first season, we did find these costumes compelling from an aesthetic perspective. 🙂 Well, that pretty much concludes our trip to this year’s Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design Exhibit at the FIDM Museum. We are looking forward to next year’s exhibit.

 

And It’s That Time Again- Lily Absinthe Goes To The FIDM Museum, Part 1

12th Annual Art of Television Costume Design

Today we decided to avail ourselves of a last opportunity to view the 12th “Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design Exhibit” at the FIDM Museum in Los Angeles and while we had to deal with some large crowds, it was definitely worth the time. As a general thing, we like the costume exhibits that are put on at the FIDM Museum because the location is convenient, parking is relatively easy to find, and the admission is free. Yes, free! 🙂

FIDM Adam

Getting in a quick picture between mods of visitors…

Although we tend to focus on shows set in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, we’re not oblivious to other eras and genres and upon entering we were greeted by some artfully designed outfits from the show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel:

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While 1950s fashions may seem to be light years apart from the late 19th Century, they both share the characteristic of carefully sculpted silhouettes (helped along by proper foundation garments) and as such represent the design ethos of careful, deliberate design effects, something that was not to re-emerge until the 1980s (albeit in a somewhat re-worked form).

Next, were the costumes from The Alienist. We’ll start with the men’s outfits:

FIDM Museum

The above is a fairly functional sack suit and it pretty much fits for 1896 although there’s a couple of details that we find questionable. First, the use of bright colored and/or patterned silks, wools, and cottons for vest fronts was more of an 1860s style and by the 1890s, fabrics tended towards more conservative patterns and colors, often matching the rest of the sack suit (but not always). Second, the use of insets on the collar/lapels is somewhat questionable- from the extant period examples we’ve examined, this seemed to have been a style element reserved for more formal frock and tail coats. Perhaps this was an attempt to emphasize the character John Moore’s upper class status.

Next, we see a frock coat suit worn by Dr. Lazlo Kriezler:

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The use of a bottle green wool is interesting in that it’s a little outside of the norm but not implausibly so and the silhouette holds up well. The button holes on the collar is an odd embellishment but it’s hard to notice on screen.

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Daniel Brühl, Dakota Fanning and Luke Evans in *The Alienist*

And now for the women’s costumes, at least those worn by Dakota Fanning as Sara Howard. First up is a day dress:

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In terms of silhouette, this dress follows a fairly conventional 1890s day dress style and the silk brocade fashion fabric suggests a better sort of afternoon/visiting dress. However, the sleeves seem to be lacking for a dress that’s supposed to date from 1896. The mid-1890s saw the gigot, or leg-of-mutton, sleeve in full boom and for the most part, had far more fullness than what’s on this dress. Granted, some gigot sleeve styles could get seriously over the top but nevertheless, for a dress worn by someone of means, this is not an area that would have been skimped on; these just appear perfunctory. Finally, in its defense, the plum and magenta color combination is an excellent one and the hats further enhances this although the hat doesn’t appear to have been worn, at least to the best of our recollection (somehow, when it comes to film and TV, hats are usually the first thing to be discarded).

Final note: When we first viewed this costume at the FIDM Museum, we noticed that the bottom of the bodice was unbuttoned. We thought this was some attempt to model the bodice details but when we found the above picture, we saw that it had been worn that was in the production. The only reaction we can summon is NO. These dresses were meant to be work with all the fasteners closed; it simply doesn’t read correctly. Perhaps there was a fit issue that prevented full closure and there was no time to fix it but still, it’s simply sloppy.

Next, we seen an evening dress:

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Due to the crowds, I was unable to get a good frontal view so here are a few additional ones that we found online:

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The concept illustration.

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One interesting thing we noticed with this evening dress was that the bodice included spaghetti straps in the production but this was lacking in the actual garments when it was on display. Style-wise this evening dress does give a very rough 1890s silhouette but that’s about all that’s 1890s about it. The worst element is the pleated bodice- the pleats are not only not historically correct, but they make the bodice look ill-fitting. The sleeve and neck treatment also don’t help- The strips of velvet swags are loosely tacked onto the bodice front and limply hang off the shoulders with no attempt to really follow the wearer’s silhouette. The overall effect just looks sloppy. Finally, no real attempt was made to properly create the gored skirts that were the basic element of any 1890s evening dress:

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Here we see a loose gathering of fabric. Once again, sloppy. Just for comparison, let’s take a look at an original evening dress circa 1892 – 1896 that features a pleated bodice:

Evening Dress c. 1892 - 1896

M. Laferriere, Robes et Mantaux, Evening Dress, c. 1892 – 1896; Kent State University Museum (1983.001.0173)

Evening Dress c. 1892 - 1896

Evening Dress c. 1892 - 1896

Close-Up, Rear View

Evening Dress c. 1892 - 1896

While style elements may vary, the key is that the total dress is tidy with smooth lines. Nothing appears to have been added without purpose. Now, perhaps the rumpled bodice in the production was hiding a lack of corseting (can’t say for sure here but often leading actresses insist on not wearing corsets in productions and usually the director will go along with it, even though it ruins the bodice silhouette).

In contract to the ball down is this walking suit that unfortunately got almost no air time:

FIDM Museum

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Overall, the silhouette reads mid-1890s and the construction is excellent, especially in lining up the stripes between the sleeves and cuffs. The jacket/skirt/waist combination was very characteristic of 1890s day wear and the costume designer definitely got it right. The only issue is, like the above day dress, is the sleeves- they could have been larger, extending out from the shoulder more.

The Alienist

Overall, it was a commendable attempt and definitely deserves recognitiion. Well, that’s it for now- we’ll have more soon.

(To be continued…)

Off To The FIDM Museum- The 26th Motion Picture Costume Design Exhibition

Art of Motion Picture Costume Design Exhibition

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oday we decided to get out of the house and make our annual pilgrimage to the 26th Motion Picture Costume Design Exhibition at the FIDM Museum and enjoy the sunny weather in Downtown Los Angeles. First impressions? First, never visit this exhibit on a weekend (we really didn’t have a choice this time around)- the crowds were out in force and it was difficult viewing the various garments on exhibit or getting a clear shot at taking a picture.

Adam FIDM Museum

Your somewhat frustrated author outside of the exhibition- I really don’t do crowds.

That said, there were definitely some compelling garments to view…first up is The Phantom Thread, a film loosely (very loosely) based on the designer Charles James, whose designs capture fashion during the late 1940s and 50s:

Phantom Thread

Phantom Thread

The above pink gown is aesthetically pleasing, vaguely reminiscent of James’ evening gowns but not particularly exciting. The appliques on the skirt are fairly standard and are flat. The use of lace on the bodice and sleeves seem to obscure the dress lines, which are strongest part of the dress design. Here’s a picture of the gown in action:

Phantom Thread

 

However, on a more positive note is this black coat.

Phantom Thread

The A-line silhouette and cut on this coat are architectural, creating a series of clean, flowing lines lines. The use of black silk satin further emphasizes the lines of the coat, making for an exquisite package. What is especially remarkable is the construction of the sleeves and shoulders- the sleeve flows into the shoulder and a single unit (I’d love to see the pattern!). Unfortunately, the crowds prevented me from getting pictures from the rest of the collection so we’ll just leave it at. 🙁

On a lighter note were these costumes from the Disney live-action version of Beauty and the Beast:

Beauty and the Beast

The dress for Belle, the heroine of the story, is a fairly standard Disney Prince sort of design and as such is a fairly conventional design. However, the outfit for the Beast, is striking in it’s sheer size (which makes sense since it’s being worn by a fairly large creature).

Beauty and the Beast

To get an idea of the sheer size, here’s a picture of the two protagonists together:

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Next there were a few dresses from the 2017 re-make of The Beguiled, a movie set in 1864 during the American Civil War:

The Beguiled

The Beguiled

The Beguiled

Our reaction? Well, let’s just say that the effect was underwhelming. With a dull pastel toned color palette, the 1860s never looked more dull and it really doesn’t seem to fit with the setting of 1864 Virginia, a decidedly war-torn place. I’m just not sure about this.

And finally, just for fun here are some outfits from the most recent Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi:

Unfortunately, this year’s display was a bit of a disappointment. From an historical perspective, there wasn’t much out there and what was on display wasn’t particularly compelling. I hope next year’s exhibit is better and we’re definitely going to make a point to visit on a weekday.

Coming Up…The 26th Motion Picture Costume Design Exhibition

 

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very year we make a point of hitting the Motion Picture Costume Design Exhibition at the FIDM Museum and this year is no exception. Now in it’s 26th year, the exhibit features a selection of costumes from the year’s most popular films (in this case, 2017) to include Academy Award nominees for best costume design. We’ll be making a trek in the near future and we strongly urge anyone with an interest in costume to visit. For more details, follow the above hyperlinks. See you there! 🙂