Dressed for success
Oscar-nominated costumes get museum treatment.
The burgundy velour suit Christian Bale finished with an ascot stands next to the slinky, leopard-print gown worn by Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle. Five of the flashy, low-cut dresses worn by Amy Adams occupy extra-small mannequins beside them.
These Oscar-nominated costumes are among the stars of California’s FIDM Museum’s 22nd annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design exhibit, which features outfits from all five Oscar contenders this year: American Hustle, 12 Years A Slave, The Great Gatsby, The Invisible Woman and The Grandmaster.
The free exhibit, on view until April 26, also features dozens of designs from other popular films, including Man Of Steel and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
Curator Kevin Jones and his team inadvertently predicted the nominees when they requested the costumes months ago.
“I’d like to say that we have all this insider information and it’s totally top secret and there’s this underground bunker where we all meet,” he said, “but actually, it’s really educated luck.”
As they watch movies throughout the year, they note the costumes that “make those characters leap off the screen,” Jones said, with an experienced eye for excellence that usually overlaps with the film academy’s costume designers’ branch.
This year’s nominees are particularly diverse – costumes from 1850s england to 1930s China to New York in 1978, which Jones said reflects an appreciation of designers’ increasing sophistication in creating realistic or stylised looks for any era or atmosphere.
“It’s not so much just (that) it’s an old movie set in the 18th or 19th century so therefore it’s worthy of being nominated,” he said, adding that some of the costumes for American Hustle are original pieces from the 1970s. “I love it because it’s (recognising) a broader range of what costume design represents.”
Michael Wilkinson, who created the costumes for American Hustle, said it was exciting to see his work in a museum setting.
“It’s great to see them as a line-up,” he said. “Because when you’re on set, you never get to see five Amy Adams costumes all at once.”
Retro glamour: Michael Wilkinson’s costumes for AmericanHustle are nominated for an Academy Award.