The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) Museum and Library in downtown Los Angeles houses a collection of over 10,000 costumes, accessories and textiles and admission is free to the public. One of the current exhibits, “25th Annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design” gives the museumgoer an up close and personal view of the costumes worn in some of 2016’s most popular movies, including this year’s Academy Award winner for Best Costume Design, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, designed by the legendary Colleen Atwood. The exhibit is open Tues- Sat, 10am-5pm, through April 22nd, 2017.
To accompany our photos from the exhibit and Dr Style’s report, we’ve chosen the official video for this year’s Oscar-winning Best Song, “City of Stars.” from Damien Chazell’s musical love letter to Los Angeles, La La Land.
Thanks to curators Kevin Jones and Christine Johnson, the current exhibition at FIDM, “25th Annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design,” highlights the costumes from the movies of 2016 in a way that is enjoyable, tangible and comprehensive. It shows us how talented designers create memories and influence fashion with the amazing clothes that help bring characters to life on the silver screen.
As a designer, over the years I have been inspired and influenced by the movies when creating my collections, as have many other designers. Case in point – Annie Hall. In 1977 Diane Keaton became synonymous with her neurotic film persona. According to the movie’s costume designer, Ruth Morley, she repeatedly attempted to deter Keaton from wearing her unorthodox attire on set, deeming the look the actress was creating “crazy.” Fortunately, Morley lost the battle to Keaton and Annie Hall’s fashion flare became iconic, mimicked by designers for women of all ages. (Interesting footnote: Keaton’s oversized, loosely-shaped fedora for the character was inspired by Aurore Clément whom Keaton met while working with Aurore’s husband, production designer Dean Tavoularis, on the set of Godfather: Part II.) One of the first pair of designer sunglasses I ever bought were designed by Giorgio Armani, with a nod to Annie Hall. (I still wear those glasses today.) And twenty years after the movie debuted, Sex in the City’s Carrie Bradshaw couldn’t resist Annie’s penchant for menswear shirts, vests and ties. And speaking of Carrie Bradshaw, there must have been a serious spike in shoe sales — especially Manolo Blahnik – from 1998 to 2004 as designer Patricia Field launched trends and brought fashion labels into the mainstream. Remember those oversized flowers?
Another of my favorite Ruth Morley-designed films is Scorcese’s Taxi Driver from 1976. Jodie Foster’s standout performance as Iris was enhanced by the provocative costuming. At that time, I had just started renting a room by the week in the Diplomat Hotel in Times Square. It could have been a set for the movie. The disheveled hotel was not only my temporary home, but home to scores of prostitutes and an amazing elderly man who befriended me, Mr. Nicholas. Only a five minute walk to my first design job on Seventh Avenue, I saw my fair share of working girls in the lobby dressed in hot pants, flower print blouses seductively tied under their breasts, floppy hats and cork platform sandals. After Taxi Driver was released, the look went legit.
In the same year, costume designer Bob Mackie reached back to 1939 to create Carol Burnett’s famous curtain-rod dress, ripped from the plantation window for “Went with the Wind” the comedienne’s brilliant parody of Gone with the Wind. Vivien Leigh looked spectacular in the original gold bullion-trimmed green velvet dress and hat, designed by William Plunkett that jumped off the screen in Technicolor and Cinemascope. In his hilarious homage, Mackie was ahead of the curve with oversized shoulders that were about to dominate the fashion world and define the term “power dressing.” (Mackie has also had a 43-year collaboration with Cher, bringing the fashion world inspirational glamour and fantasy that has spread from TV to Oscar’s red carpet to Main Street. Bravo, Mr. Mackie!)
Costume design inspiration is endless. The 1980’s gave us oversized off-the-shoulder sweatshirts and leg warmers designed by Michael Kaplan and worn by Jennifer Beals in Flashdance. In the ‘90’s I couldn’t resist the American Gigolo-inspired suit by Donna Karan that I’m wearing in the photo above (although Richard Gere’s were designed by Armani.) In the 2000’s, Arianne Phillips worked with Tom Ford to create the costumes for A Single Man and more recently Nocturnal Animals. The clothes are an integral part of these noir cult-status movies that are currently influencing our style vocabulary.
All this movie talk has given me a craving for popcorn and the big screen – I can’t wait to see what we’ll all be wearing next year!