The 27th Art of Motion Picture Design Exhibition at the Fashion Institute for Design and Merchandising Museum is displaying costumes from the past year’s Academy Award-nominated films and other fan-favorites from Feb. 5 to April 12.
This year’s exhibition features designs from all five films nominated for Best Costume Design: “Black Panther,” “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” “Mary Queen of Scots,” “The Favourite” and “Mary Poppins Returns.” Other featured films include “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “A Star Is Born,” “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Ocean’s 8,” among many others.
With the Academy Awards on Sunday, much of the media’s focus is the acting and directing categories. This exhibition pays homage to equally important, if not underappreciated, artists in the film industry — the costume designers. Along with the hair and makeup department, these individuals help transform actors into ’70s rock legends, Western cowboys and 18th century royalty.
The museum is split into four galleries. Each has videos and large posters with design information to accompany the array of costumes.
The first gallery displays costumes from action-based movies: Costumes from “Black Panther” are on a stand in the middle, displaying the queen of Wakanda’s elaborate white-and-gold gown in the spotlight. To the left are costumes from “Avengers: Infinity War,” and to the right, outfits used in “Aquaman,” “A Quiet Place” and “Solo: A Star Wars Story” are displayed.
The second gallery features 14 costume illustrations, revealing early design ideas for films such as “A Simple Favor” and “First Man.” The gallery also highlights the chic designer clothes from “Crazy Rich Asians” and the glamorous Met Gala gowns worn in “Ocean’s 8.” In another corner of the room are two costumes from “A Simple Favor.” From Blake Lively’s white pinstripe jumpsuit and Anna Kendrick’s pom-pom sweater, the ability of costume designers to convey differences in characters is incredibly prevalent.
In the third gallery stands the iconic Freddie Mercury “crown and robe” look, front and center. Just like Mercury himself, the intricately designed deep red, gold-encrusted costume commands attention. To the direct left are designs from “Mary Poppins Returns,” including two from the film’s 2-D animation sequence. By painting details like bows and ruffles onto the fabric rather than using actual accessories, the outfits appear to be 2-D.
In the fourth and final gallery are 16th and 18th century gowns and outfits featured in the films “Mary Queen of Scots” and “The Favourite.” As with the rest of the exhibition, one can get incredibly close to the designs and observe each crystal, thread and sequin carefully sewn into the fabrics. The intricacies of each piece don’t always capture attention onscreen, so the opportunity to view them up close is illuminating.
Less than a 10-minute ride from campus and free to the public, the exhibition is a worthy experience for fashion lovers and film buffs alike.