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

Art of Motion Picture Costume Design Exhibition


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:

Image result for beauty and the beast

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


Image result for academy awards best costume design


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! 🙂

More From The FIDM Museum…


e at Lily Absinthe make a point of often visiting the FIDM Museum. The exhibits are updated often and there’s always something that exquisite to see and rarely do we go away not being inspired. 🙂 As a follow-up to yesterday’s post, here’s a little more about what we saw there. First, we have a mantle, c. 1885, designed by Charles Worth:

Worth 1885

Worth 1885

This coat is constructed a silk velvet/brocade trimmed with sable. Although it’s not easy to make out, the brocade design is that of a pineapple (one could argue that the choice of pineapple was apt since it was considered an expensive luxury). Definitely intended for a cold climate (with temperatures running abound 103, the Californian in us shudders), the mantle was intended to provide total coverage and is shaped to accommodate the underlying bustled dress.

Next up, is this c. 1908 afternoon dress designed by Liberty & Company, Ltd.:

FIDM Liberty of London 1908

FIDM Liberty of London 1908

The dress silhouette is characteristic of the later 1900s and while it was no doubt work with an s-bend corset underneath, it’s fairly muted (although that can simply be the staging). The bodice and skirt are made from a gray silk/silk chiffon, trimmed with embroidered silk flowers along the lapels of the bodice, sleeves, and waist. The bodice is designed with a front opening to simulate a jacket with a lace/gauze waist underneath.

FIDM Liberty of London 1908

FIDM Liberty of London 1908

Close-up of the embroidery detail. Liberty of London was a high-end department store in London specializing in importing fabrics from the Orient and especially Japan.

In terms of style, this represents the more conventional path when compared to a designer like Paul Poiret who, at the same time, was pushing Nouveau Directoire:

Paul Iribe 1908 Poiret Noveau Directoire

Noveau Directoire 1908 Poiret Josephine Dress

Paul Poiret, Day Dress, 1908; Les Arts Décoratifs

 It’s quite a contrast…

Well, that concludes our most recent trip to the FIDM Museum. Stay tuned for more posts in the future about this most remarkable place. 🙂

The 11th Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design Exhibition At FIDM

Yesterday, we decided to take a small break and head down to Downtown Los Angeles to check out the 11th Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design Exhibition at FIDM. This is a display of costumes from various Emmy-nominated television shows and serves as the television counterpart to the Annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design exhibitions. Now we fully admit that we tend to be somewhat subjective about what catches our eye and most of the shows that featured are ones that we have not seen so with that in mind, let’s proceed…

From a 19th Century standpoint- sort of- the first stand-out were two outfits from the HBO series Westworld:

The first is worn by one of the principle characters, Maeve:


And here it is on the show:

Image result

The outfit is also seen with a full skirt:

Image result for westworld maeve

And just because, here’s a close up of the fabrics from the FIDM Museum Blog:

And then there’s Maeve’s companion Clementine:


Image result for westworld maeve

Moving on, here’s an assortment of pictures from a variety of shows…

Now for something different, here’s one of Queen Elizabeth’s gowns from the Netflix series The Crown:


And “live”…

Elizabeth (Claire Foy) and Philip (Matt Smith) smile for a paparazzi moment. Photo: Netflix

I’ll admit, the reasons I was drawn to this one was because of the color combination of a dark celadon/gray combined with taupe bodice and overskirt. Very simple, yet elegant, and it’s a color combination that may make an appearance in one of our designs. 🙂

Now for something different, here are two costumes from the Amazon series The Collection:


And a close-up, courtesy of the FIDM Museum Blog:


What is especially striking is the coordinated arrangement of the various striped fabric pieces combined with the use of lavender- it’s very striking and overall dress silhouette gives a “New Look” feel (well, the show IS about a Paris fashion house in the Postwar years… 🙂 ). Now for something a bit more dramatic:


And here’s a picture of the dress “live”:

The Collection (2016)

We really need to watch the show… 🙂

Well, that’s a brief look of what we saw at the FIDM Museum and as usual, we were not disappointed and it definitely held our attention. From a period (i.e. 19th Century) perspective, there was little that grabbed our attention but we take  our inspiration from all periods (especially 1946-60 recently) and don’t be surprised if some of that appears in our designs. That’s all for now! 🙂