FIDM Displays Best Costumes In Television

By Danielle Gillespie
Palisades News Contributor
Photos courtesy of FIDM

With the Emmy Awards ceremony fast approaching on September 18, the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) is offering an exclusive look at this year’s nominated costumes as part of its 10th Annual Art of Television Costume Design exhibition.

Featuring more than 100 costumes from 23 current television shows, the downtown L.A. exhibit includes the work of eight Emmy-nominated costume designers.

They are Anna Mary Scott Robbins (Downton Abbey), Terry Dresbach (Outlander), Michele Clapton (Game of Thrones), Ruth Carter and Diana Cilliers (Roots), Lou Eyrich (American Horror Story), Paolo Nieddu (Empire), Marie Schley (Transparent) and Daniel Lawson (The Good Wife).

Emmy-nominated costume designers Marie Schley (Transparent), Lou Eyrich (American Horror Story) and Daniel Lawson (The Good Wife) attended opening night of FIDM’s 10th Annual Art of Television Costume Design exhibition on July 30.

Emmy-nominated costume designers Marie Schley (Transparent), Lou Eyrich (American Horror Story) and Daniel Lawson (The Good Wife) attended opening night of FIDM’s 10th Annual Art of Television Costume Design exhibition on July 30.

FIDM Museum’s curators work with the Television Academy to select the costumes, which will be on display until Oct. 15.

“We know in terms of fashion what people are talking about, so we find out if we  can get those costumes, and there is also a buzz in the industry of who will possibly be nominated,” said Nick Verreos, FIDM Museum spokesperson. “For example, Empire is such a strong fashion type of show that we knew it would be nominated, so we made sure to get it.”

Emmy-nominated designer Terry Dresbach’s costumes from Outlander are among 100 costumes from 23 television shows currently on display at FIDM until October 15.

Emmy-nominated designer Terry Dresbach’s costumes from Outlander are among 100 costumes from 23 television shows currently on display at FIDM until October 15.

They also try to include shows that are in their final seasons such as The Good Wife and Downton Abbey and those that have a costume designer who graduated from FIDM. Alumnus Rachel Sage Kunin, the designer for Jane the Virgin, is featured.

This year’s exhibit also has a Pacific Palisades connection. Palisades High School graduate and actor Forest Whitaker’s outfit is on display as part of Roots. Whitaker played the Fiddler in the 2016 remake of the 1977 miniseries about slavery.

Several Emmy-nominated designers attended the opening night of FIDM’s exhibition on July 30 to talk with the press about their work with the press, including Marie Schley, Daniel Lawson and Lou Eyrich, who spoke with the Palisades News.

Schley won an Emmy for Transparent in 2015 and is nominated again this year. The web series comedy follows a family as they grapple with the fact that their father is transgender.

Schley said she works closely with the  show’s creator, Jill Soloway, and its writers when creating costumes.

Costume designer Marie Schley won an Emmy for her costumes for Transparent last year and is nominated for the award again this year.

Costume designer Marie Schley won an Emmy for her costumes for Transparent last year and is nominated for the award again this year.

“It’s also a collaboration with the actors, and we talk a lot about what feels right,” Schley said. “Sometimes a piece of clothing can make them feel more into their character.”

To best reflect the characters, she often uses symbolism. For instance, the transgender husband’s ex-wife Shelly (Judith Light) always wears pants.

“In a flashback, she turns to her husband, and says ‘I want you to be the man in the family,’ and she really plays that patriarch in the history of this family,” Schley said. “She’s the one who wears the pants.”

Meanwhile, Lawson describes his work on The Good Wife as understated. The show is a drama about the wife of a Chicago state attorney, Alicia (Julianna Margulies), who returns to her law career after her husband was involved in a sex and corruption scandal.

Since the characters mostly wear business attire, Lawson makes slight changes in the length of their skirts and the height of their heels to help them stand out from each other.

“We got to the point, I am really thrilled to say, that we could pick up a garment in the shop and say ‘that’s Alicia’s’ or ‘that’s Diane’ because all those tiny little elements would come together,” Lawson said. Diane (Christine Baranski) is a senior partner at the firm where Alicia works.

Emmy-nominated designer Lou Eyrich designed this floor-length fuchsia dress for Lady Gaga as part of the television show American Horror Story.

Emmy-nominated designer Lou Eyrich designed this floor-length fuchsia dress for Lady Gaga as part of the television show American Horror Story.

In addition, Lawson, who was also nominated for The Good Wife in its first season, considers acting style when outfitting the cast. He chose to dress Alicia in solid colors because “Julianna’s acting is very subtle, elegant and beautiful, and I didn’t want anything to interfere with that or pull the audience away from what was going on in her face and her body.”

As for Eyrich, she found inspiration for this year’s American Horror Story from the set design. The show has a different storyline and cast every season. This past season, subtitled “Hotel,” took place in 2015 inside a 1920s hotel in Los Angeles. Lady Gaga played Elizabeth, a 111-year-old vampire.

“The set had old-world charm, and I wanted to play against it to show the modern world,” Eyrich said, noting that she dressed Lady Gaga in colorful outfits to offset the darkness of the hotel.

A six-time Emmy nominee, Eyrich works closely with the creator Ryan Murphy, who has a clear idea of how he wants the characters to look. She also collaborated with Lady Gaga, who is known for her her own unique iconic style.

“We had a five-hour fitting the first time, and we talked about who her character was and how we could help her grow throughout the season,” Eyrich said. “She really enjoyed being a part of the process. I loved working with her, and the entire cast. Everyone is amazing.”

Eyrich has already won two Emmys for American Horror Story. She was recognized for the “Freak Show” and “Coven” seasons.

“It’s both challenging and rewarding,” Eyrich said. “Every season is different, so I think I nailed it this time, and then a new season comes, and I have to start all over.”

FIDM is also displaying Eyrich’s costumes from Scream Queens, which follows a sorority threatened by a serial killer.

To view the free exhibit, visit FIDM’s Museum & Galleries, 919 S. Grand Ave. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Information: (213) 623-5821 ext. 2224. Visit its website at http://fidmmuseum.org.

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