FIDM Exhibit Spotlights TV’s Best Costumes

By Lila Seidman
Special to the Palisades News
Photos courtesy of FIDM

Walk into the FIDM Museum in the heart of downtown L.A. and you’ll be greeted by the Queen of England. Queen Elizabeth II as played by Claire Foy, the star of the Netflix series, “The Crown,” to be exact.

She’s not there to discuss political or romantic intrigue; she’s there to show off her wedding gown. Don’t you know the dress on display—a carbon copy of the 1947 Norman Hartnell-designed original—was nominated for an Emmy?

The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising last month launched its 11th Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design Exhibition. Running until Oct. 7, the exhibit showcases more than 100 costumes from 25 of the year’s top TV shows, including the work of nine Emmy-nominated costume designers.

Jewels of “The Crown” by Michele Clapton, Emmy Award nominee for Costume Design. These costumes can be seen in the 11th annual “Art of Television Costume Design” exhibition in the FIDM Museum at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, Los Angeles. The exhibition is free to the public and runs Tuesday, August 22 through Saturday, October 7, 2017, 10:00am -5:00pm; closed Sunday/Monday.
(Photo: Alex J. Berliner / ABImages)

A mannequin decked in the arresting red smock and white bonnet worn by Elisabeth Moss (designed by Ane Crabtree) in “The Handmaid’s Tale” poses humbly next to the opulent 1920s, Tom Broecker-designed garb donned by Christina Ricci playing Zelda Fitzgerald in “Z: The Beginning of Everything.”

The small-town, everyday ‘80s aesthetic of Netflix’s “Stranger Things” (designed by FIDM alumna Kimberly Adams) faces glitzy, glittering gowns designed by Zaldy for “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” which scored an Emmy nom in a brand new category: Outstanding Costumes for Reality Programming.

“The Crown” costumes by Michele Clapton, Emmy Award nominee for Costume Design. These costumes can be seen in the 11th annual “Art of Television Costume Design” exhibition in the FIDM Museum at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, Los Angeles. The exhibition is free to the public and runs Tuesday, August 22 through Saturday, October 7, 2017, 10:00am -5:00pm; closed Sunday/Monday.
Costume worn by actor: Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth
(Photo: Alex J. Berliner / ABImages)

Although the Primetime Emmy Awards are given away over the course of a single night, the exhibition requires a year-round effort involving significant re-search and cultivating relationships with the studios.

A view of the 11th annual “Art of Television Costume Design” exhibition in the FIDM Museum at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, Los Angeles. The exhibition is free to the public and runs Tuesday, August 22 through Saturday, October 7, 2017, 10:00am -5:00pm; closed Sunday/Monday.
(Photo: Alex J. Berliner / ABImages)

To anticipate which costumes to spotlight from which shows—a process that has to begin before the official Emmy nomination announcement—the exhibition’s curators need to keep their fingers on the pulse. They begin making arrangements with studios to showcase costumes from popular or design-conscious shows that they know are likely to snag Emmy noms.

“The FIDM Museum costume elves feel out the zeitgeist of the costume world,” explained Nick Verreos, a FIDM alumnus and current spokesperson. When the exhibition closes, they immediately begin looking at what shows are likely to garner noms the following year.

“Z: The Beginning of Everything” costumes by Tom Broecker. These costumes can be seen in the 11th annual “Art of Television Costume Design” exhibition in the FIDM Museum at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, Los Angeles. The exhibition is free to the public and runs Tuesday, August 22 through Saturday, October 7, 2017, 10:00am -5:00pm; closed Sunday/Monday.
Showgirl Costume
(Photo: Alex J. Berliner / ABImages)

Backgrounded by white museum walls, removed from the chaos of a crowded TV set, the collections from shows including Emmy-nominated HBO’s “Big Little Lies” and FX’s “Feud: Bette and Joan,” the costumes suddenly assume a continuity and character that the untrained eye of a lay viewer might not have picked up on. According to costume designer Hala Mehmet, who recently spoke on a panel at FIDM about her work for NBC’s “This Is Us,” her job is to use clothing to “make characters real, to make them organic, instead of just pursuing a fashion or style for its fashion or style sake.”

The show’s star, Mandy Moore, pointed out that the costumes help amplify the story. Moore, also speaking at FIDM, said that her favorite look from the show was the dress her character Rebecca wore for a comeback singing performance—one of the show’s biggest climaxes.

“Westworld” costumes by Trish Summerville, Emmy Award nominee for Costume Design. These costumes can be seen in the 11th annual “Art of Television Costume Design” exhibition in the FIDM Museum at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, Los Angeles. The exhibition is free to the public and runs Tuesday, August 22 through Saturday, October 7, 2017, 10:00am -5:00pm; closed Sunday/Monday.
Costume worn by actor: Thandie Newton as Maeve
(Photo: Alex J. Berliner / ABImages)

“We were sort of building to that the whole season,” Moore said. “This dress was just, like, everything.” (The dress, a cranberry,‘ 40s jazz-inspired number with turquoise-accented ruffle sleeves, is on display in the museum.)

While the exhibit a must-see for costume fanatics, “It’s not just for fashion people,” Verreos said. It’s also for fans: “You get to see another facet, another part, of who your favorite TV character is or was.”

“RuPaul’s Drag Race” costumes by ZALDY, Emmy Award nominee for Costume Design. These costumes can be seen in the 11th annual “Art of Television Costume Design” exhibition in the FIDM Museum at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, Los Angeles. The exhibition is free to the public and runs Tuesday, August 22 through Saturday, October 7, 2017, 10:00am -5:00pm; closed Sunday/Monday.
(L to R) Costumes worn by actor: RuPaul
(Photo: Alex J. Berliner / ABImages)

Colleen Atwood, one of the most awarded costume designers of all time, has a residence in Pacific Palisades, noted FIDM spokeswoman Shirley Wilson.

Atwood, who has four Academy Awards under her belt, also scored an Emmy in 2006 for her design work on “Tony Bennett: An American Classic.”

The FIDM Museum is located on 919 S. Grand Avenue in downtown L.A. The exhibit is free and open to the public Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“The Get Down” costumes by Jeriana San Juan. These costumes can be seen in the 11th annual “Art of Television Costume Design” exhibition in the FIDM Museum at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, Los Angeles. The exhibition is free to the public and runs Tuesday, August 22 through Saturday, October 7, 2017, 10:00am -5:00pm; closed Sunday/Monday.
Costume worn by actor: Shameik Moore as Shaolin Fantastic
(Photo: Alex J. Berliner / ABImages)

“Dancing with the Stars” costumes by Steven Norman Lee and Daniela Gschwendtner, Emmy Award nominees for Costume Design. These costumes can be seen in the 11th annual “Art of Television Costume Design” exhibition in the FIDM Museum at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, Los Angeles. The exhibition is free to the public and runs Tuesday, August 22 through Saturday, October 7, 2017, 10:00am -5:00pm; closed Sunday/Monday.
Costume worn by actor: Peta Murgatroyd
(Photo: Alex J. Berliner / ABImages)

“Dancing with the Stars” costumes by Steven Norman Lee and Daniela Gschwendtner, Emmy Award nominees for Costume Design. These costumes can be seen in the 11th annual “Art of Television Costume Design” exhibition in the FIDM Museum at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, Los Angeles. The exhibition is free to the public and runs Tuesday, August 22 through Saturday, October 7, 2017, 10:00am -5:00pm; closed Sunday/Monday.
Costume worn by actor: Nick Viall
(Photo: Alex J. Berliner / ABImages)

“Big Little Lies” costumes by Alix Friedberg, Emmy Award nominee for Costume Design.
These costumes can be seen in the 11th annual “Art of Television Costume Design” exhibition in the FIDM Museum at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, Los Angeles. The exhibition is free to the public and runs Tuesday, August 22 through Saturday, October 7, 2017, 10:00am -5:00pm; closed Sunday/Monday.
Costume worn by actor: Laura Dern as Renata Klein
(Photo: Alex J. Berliner / ABImages)

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