By Susan JAMES
The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM at 919 South Grand Ave., Los Angeles) has opened its 7th annual exhibition of the art of television costume design which will run through Saturday, Oct. 19.
Curated by famed costume designer Mary Rose, the exhibition is free to the public and showcases over 120 costumes worn in 15 featured television shows and mini-series broadcast last season. From the waitress costumes for the CBS sitcom, “2 Broke Girls” designed by Trayce Gigi Field, to designer Caroline McCall’s wardrobe of wedding dresses worn in the BBC mini-series “Downton Abbey,” the exhibition highlights the vast range of looks produced for TV and showcases the imagination and originality employed by costume designers to create them.
Three of the designers and their creations are among this year’s Emmy nominees for outstanding costume design for a mini-series, movie or special. For the Michael Douglas/Matt Damon HBO biopic, “Behind the Candelabra,” Ellen Mirojnick, who has worked in both television and film, created spectacular looks for flamboyant entertainer Liberace’s larger than life wardrobe. A white fur coat with train, lined in silver and set with chevrons of silver spangles, is arguably the star of the show. The design and craftsmanship involved in the choice of fabric, construction and beading on other Liberace companion costumes leaves little doubt that Mirojnick’s work is a prime contender for this year’s Emmy.
Also nominated are Caroline McCall’s period looks for the popular BBC mini-series “Downton Abbey.” Costumes worn by the dueling divas played by Maggie Smith and Shirley MacLaine stand next to each other across the aisle from the wedding clothes worn by Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary and Dan Stevens as Matthew Crawley. Period costumes are a featured part of the FIDM exhibition with James Keast’s turn-of-the-century costumes for BBC’s “Mr. Selfridge” vying for attention with Kathleen Detoro’s retro-60s look for the CBS series “Vegas.” The staging of Joseph G. Aulisi’s work for the NBC musical series “Smash” has been mounted as a mash-up of Marilyn Monroe dresses set next to lavishly decorated outfits from the French court of Louis XV.
The third nominated Emmy contender is Michele Clapton for her work on the HBO series “Game of Thrones.” Fantasy flourishes incorporating a medieval vibe set the tone for Clapton’s wardrobe interpretations of the long list of characters she dresses – interpretations that won her an Emmy last year for the same series. Romantically flowing gowns for the female characters in metallic colors of gold and bronze are counterpoised against sinister black robes and quasi-military looks for the men. But not all is period or fantasy.
Lyn Paolo’s clothes for Kerry Washington’s character Olivia Pope, a Washington operative in the ABC series “Scandal,” are the embodiment of understated elegance and span the worlds of fashion and costume. The same is true of Tom Broecker’s work for the Netflix series, “House of Cards,” starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright.
Asked who his design influences were for the D.C. power player costumes, Broecker replied, “You can’t go wrong with classic Dior.”
A hint of Balenciaga here, a hit of the Chicago Mob there, mixed with the full panoply of an over-the-top Liberace makes this FIDM exhibition a must see event for both costume and television aficionados.
For further information, visit http://blog.fidmmuseum.org/museum/2013/07/7th-annual-outstanding-art-of-television-costume-design-exhibiton-opens-july-30.html.