A review of the costume design exhibit at FIDM-LA

Imagine you are in a theater, watching the 2019 film Downton Abbey. The Crawley family is about to “go through” from their magnificent parlor to the even grander dining room. Just then Lady Mary enters wearing jeans and a UCLA sweatshirt. You would probably laugh, right? Or maybe even yell at the screen? Whatever your reaction, the spell the film had cast upon you so far would surely be broken. In a way, a costumer’s job is to prevent this sort of jarring experience and to keep the fantasy going in every scene with each character and every ensemble.

Currently the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles is hosting an exhibition of some of the best costume design in recent film history. The 28th Annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design exhibition features a wide range of recent examples—from Little Women to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Rocketman to Harriet. In many cases the costume designer was nominated for an Academy Award this year and, in one case, won an Oscar award for her work just over two weeks ago! Since these awards aren’t usually shown during the TV broadcast of the awards show, you may not have heard who won … until now.

The exhibit contains so many stunning—and memorable—costumes that it was difficult to choose our favorites. Here are just a few. To see more, we encourage you to take a trip to Southern California and see for yourself! The exhibit continues until March 21, 2020 and is free to the public. More information here.

Costumes by Ruth Carter for the movie Black Panther.
Replicas of some of the outrageous costumes worn by music legend Elton John for the biographical movie Rocketman.

… and the winner of the 2020 Academy Award for best costumes (drum roll, please) … Jacqueline Durran for Little Women!