Last Weeks for the Art of Motion Picture Costume Design Exhibition at FIDM Museum & Galleries

The 21st Annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design exhibition has broken all previous attendance records. Fans and visitors from around the world have packed the FIDM Museum & Galleries to see the outstanding costumes on display. This highly anticipated annual exhibition has become a must-see Los Angeles event.

The Oscars have been handed out, the red carpet awards season is over, but the original costumes on display are as attention-worthy as ever. This month the newsletter takes a look at some of the stunning costumes that may not have been nominated, but are noteworthy for their innovation, craftsmanship, and their ability to tell a story.

ParaNorman, with costumes by Deborah Cook, is the biggest production ever to be made in stop-motion animation. It took 60 puppet-makers to create 178 individual puppets for ParaNorman’s 61 characters. Over 120 different tiny costumes were designed and made by hand for the 6 to 12 puppets.

As befits the lead character in an adventurous story, Norman has what Cook calls “an iconic costume…he’s always wearing his favorite jeans and hoodie, and is never without his goodies-filled, badge covered backpack. Then there are his key fobs and his zipper tags. We made everything. His backpack is a regular piece of green fabric for which we did our own stitching, to keep it in scale with his clothing; the zipper tags were sculpted here, cast in silver, hand-painted, and then sewed on.”

To get an idea of the craftsmanship, the bottom edge of Norman’s T-shirt has 102 stitches—all handmade and measured in length and spacing—with 48 stitches around his neckline. Amazingly, the costume department used size 15 extra long beading needles, the dimension of 1 hair.

Jany Temime designed the costumes for Skyfall, and her black evening gown, worn by Sévérine (Bérénice Marlohe), is one of the exhibition’s showstoppers. It is the polar opposite of Bond’s low-key, timeless suits, and took six months and 60,000 hand-applied crystals to create. The gown features a sheer body, a corseted bodice and floor-length satin skirt with sheer side panels—all covered in glittering Swarovski crystals. The whole look, from her dramatically dark lipstick to her claw-like nails, is purposefully attention grabbing.

Of course with any Bond girl, a certain amount of sex appeal is to be expected—and for Temime, that meant making Sévérine appear as “naked” as possible.

“The first time you see the dress is from the back,” said Temime. “So you see this beautiful tattoo-effect across the sheer fabric—which we dyed to match her skin tone, to suggest that she was naked. This is my Bond girl and she had to look fantastic. It was a work of love.”

In A Royal Affair, costume designer Manon Rasmussen used floral prints and crisp, tailored fabrics in contrast with feathered, embroidered, ostentatious hats and diamond hair jewelry to convey beauty and wealth on the screen. The costume drama, set in Denmark in the court of 18th century King Christian VII, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year.

The costumes exemplify the agonizingly uncomfortable, opulent, and time-consuming fashions of the time. Both men and women made a virtue out of emphasizing whatever body part the day’s style focused on, and used practically everything: from corsets and hip pads to wigs and face powder. The lower social classes, in a profound example of trickle-down, adapted the court fashions.

Sparkle, with costumes by Ruth Carter, captures the iconic styles and glamour of the 1960s. Fashion references abound—from Twiggy to Balenciaga, from Paco Rabanne to Rudi Gernreich, and from the costumes of the Supremes to the Temptations. But the red sparkle dress that Jordin Sparks wears in the final concert scenes is by a contemporary Italian designer, Marco D’Angelo.

“Jordin has curves so when we got the dress I was concerned because we did not have time to bead the dress like that, nor did we have the money—that was a $10,000 dress…” Carter told “We put it on her and there was a problem with the neckline. It was more open than you see it in the picture. So…I contacted the designer and I asked him to send me some beads. We went to a local beader and…we actually beaded the neckline over an inch into her neck so that it will cover her chest a little bit more than it did originally.”

Not too many people saw the film John Carter, but the costumes, by Mayes Rubeo, are worth a trip to the FIDM Museum. For Rubeo, costumes are more than just the clothing the actors wear. “Accessories are a big thing. It’s part of the designs that I do when I’m doing a new world and civilizations, because they create a new look in my mind…We had a jewelry staff and studio in all the workshops we had for John Carter. There was a workshop for leather, for make-up, for jewelry, and we had about 20 people working on accessories. Very talented people from all over the world, from Mexico, from England, from Italy, you name it, everywhere, created the costumes and accessories.”

Rubeo also designed the costumes for the Tharks, the computer-generated green aliens that make up half the population of Barsoom. While no stranger to designing for CG characters, Rubeo confessed the technology has moved so quickly that the process for digitizing and detailing her computer-worn costumes has shifted as well.

“Both costumes and special effects had to get together and work it out. This was very exciting for me because it’s cutting-edge technology. I feel this is where the movie magic comes,” she said. “They digitized my costumes, they put them on people to wear. It was great!”

But no matter how fast technology changes, Rubeo noted with a laugh that that one thing will remain the same. “What comforts me is that they still need the real costumes for the movie, so there are still jobs for costume designers!”

Don’t miss the opportunity to see the nearly 100 original costumes that are on display at the 21st Annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design. The exhibition is free and open to the public through April 27th.


FIDM Museum Shop

Designer Profile: Karine Khachigian

The FIDM Museum Shop is delighted to announce that Karine Khachigian, a fashion, jewelry, accessory, and footwear designer, has created an exclusive line of jewelry and hair accessories for the shop.

As the recipient of a Nolan Miller scholarship, Khachigian earned three degrees from FIDM: Footwear Design, Fashion Design, and Advanced Fashion Design. She also studied Embroidery for Haute Couture Gowns at the Francois Lesage Ecole de Broderie d’Art, in Paris.

Her impressive career has taken her from designing and producing original, handcrafted jewelry for Excentrique Accessories, to serving as the head designer for bridal and evening jewelry for Tacori, to designing and working with her celebrity clients here in Los Angeles. Jessica Alba, Mary J. Blige, and Jamie Pressly are regularly seen wearing custom jewelry by Karine Khachigian.

“I love using a variety of materials in my designs“ commented Khachigian. “For my fine jewelry I use diamonds, 18K gold and rose gold, along with pearls, semi-precious stones, and Swarovski crystals. My inspirations come from the world of couture—from the runways of Milan and Paris, but also from music, architecture, traveling, and even the experience of dining in fine restaurants.”

Khachigian is currently working on a new jewelry line and a collection of high fashion evening shoes.

“I am not inspired by trend” continued the designer. “I am inspired by beauty, by gorgeous materials, and the creative process. I began my career in couture and I love that world. To me it is about evening, beauty, elegance, and rarity. I am delighted to have been invited to create this line for the FIDM Museum Shop.”

Visit the FIDM Museum Shop for a fabulous selection of one-of-a-kind jewelry, amazing treasures, and exclusive gifts to see why we have won Downtown LA’s Best Unique Store for the past three years.

Visit the FIDM Museum Shop for an outstanding selection of books

Here are some of the latest arrivals:

Just in! Bond on Bond…Roger Moore has written a book that features all the Bond movies, along with a wonderfully witty account of his own involvement in them. From the girls to the villains, the cars to the cocktails, the gadgets, locations and everything else, this beautiful book is illustrated with hundreds of iconic images from all the films plus many previously unseen photos from the Bond archive.

Hollywood Sketchbook is the first volume published on costume design illustration for the movies. This groundbreaking book celebrates one hundred years of the costume designers’ and costume illustrators’ contributions to the art of cinematic storytelling.


A Century of Cotton: Selections from The Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection

Admission to all exhibitions:

Free to the public

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