Exploring Oscar-nominated fashion designs

Updated: Jun 3, 2020

Diving into Oscar-nominated costumes and design at LA’s Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising Museum.

By Lexie Macias, Valley Life Editor

Photo by Lexie Macias/The Valley Star

The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising Museum (FDIM) in Los Angeles is holding its 28th Annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design exhibition displaying costumes and designs from this year’s Oscar-nominated costume designers.

The exhibition offers the public the opportunity to get up-close-and-personal with the ensembles from films that were nominated for 2020 Best Picture and Best Costume Design, and other awards as well. From the dazzling ensembles in “Rocketman,” to the classic and timeless wardrobe of “Little Women” and the hippy style of 1969 LA in “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood,” this FDIM exhibit has something to offer for film and fashion aficionados of every genre.

Visitors touring the exhibition will learn the important role that costume designers play in films and movies. Capturing the essence of a time period or era through fashion, outfitting every person in a scene and expressing the personality and qualities of a character through their wardrobe are some of the essential jobs of a costume designer that the exhibition highlighted.

When working on films in specific historical periods, costume designers infuse their designs with personal and modern influences while keeping to the fashion of the time. Some civil liberties are taken by designers in their creations when it comes to the color, because the color palettes of different eras are more dull and dim in appearance. They would incorporate colors that were brighter, and more eye-catching to the audience. According to a “Dolemite is My Name” featurette, Ruth E. Carter, the costume designer of the film, did this when creating her designs.

Expressing the personality and qualities of a character through wardrobe is another task that costumers have to tackle in a film. The different quirks and characteristics of a character should shine through the different types of apparel they wear. A few costumes from “Jojo Rabbit” were on display, but the ensemble worn by Scarlett Johansson’s character Rosie, stood out because of its lively colors and fun patterns. Mayes C. Rubeo, the costume designer for “Jojo Rabbit,” according to a short featurette in the exhibition, wanted to give Rosie a bright and colorful wardrobe to show the audience how Johansson’s character is the metaphorical beacon of light in her son Jojo’s Nazi-dominated life.

Also included in the exhibition were designs from “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” “Captain Marvel” and “Avengers: Endgame.” Even though these were not award-nominated films, fashion is integral to bringing to life fascinating creatures from a galaxy far, far, away and outfitting superheroes in unforgettable uniforms. The animated feature “Missing Link” also had concept boards for the costume designs of the film’s characters, as well as figurines of each character in their unique wardrobes.

The 28th Annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design exhibition at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising Museum is open until March 21 and is free to the public. The FIDM Museum is north of the Fashion District at 919 S. Grand Avenue in Downtown Los Angeles. For more info visit fidmmuseum.org/exhibitons/current or call (213)-623-5821 to get in contact with the FIDM Museum.