Sewing

Awed by FIDM’s 13th Art of Television Costume Design, Part 1

4 images of mannequins wearing costumes from various television shows with text overlay that reads Hits and Misses from FIDM's 13th Art of Television Costume Design petite font dot com
3 images of mannequins wearing costumes from various television shows with text overlay that reads Hits and Misses from FIDM's 13th Art of Television Costume Design petite font dot com

White wall with 3 fashion drawings and large text that reads FIDM's Museum & Galleries Art of Television Costume Design

FIDM’s 13th Art of Television Costume Design is on display now until October 26th and it can be summed up in one word: WOW!

WOW! WOW! WOW!

FIDM is Los Angeles’ own Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. Located just outside of the heart of the Fashion District, it has a museum and gallery that routinely displays beautiful costumes from motion pictures and television. Admission is free and open to the public!

This exhibition is dedicated specifically to costuming in TV. Garments from Emmy-nominated shows like Game of Thrones and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel can be drooled over.

Now, I grew up in Burbank, CA. For those of us of a certain age, you might remember Johnny Carson talking about coming to you from beautiful downtown Burbank. That’s where I’m from! The Walt Disney Company and Warner Bros Entertainment are both headquartered there. My Girl Scout troop leader was a costumer for Disney.

All of that to say that I was exposed to this stuff at a very early age.

But I did not have any appreciation for the amount of talent and artistry behind the very exquisite work that a costume designer actually does.

That was until I started sewing!

This is the second exhibit I’ve been to at FIDM and they are always amazing. You can get close enough to almost touch the displays (don’t touch them, though!). You can see the very stitching!!

Even stuff like this, which makes me feel better about my own serging:

Close-up image of visible sewing on multicolored leggings from FIDM's 13th Art of Television Costume Design exhibit

Even high-end television budgets have visible serger stitching!

Some stuff is just incredible and wacky. Like this latex outfit from Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events as worn by Lucy Punch as Esmé Squalor, an octopus-like creature.

Image of a mannequin wearing the Esme Squalor costume: a purple latex leotard with purple octopus-like tentacles around the waist, fishnet stockings, and purple patent leather ankle boots, from FIDM's 13th Art of Television Costume Design exhibit

The guard told us it had been pumped full of air but you can see up close that it’s beginning to deflate.

Close up image of a mannequin wearing the Esme Squalor costume: specifically purple octopus-like tentacles made from latex and beginning to deflate, from FIDM's 13th Art of Television Costume Design exhibit

I’ve never worked with latex but can’t begin to imagine how to even wear something like that. The purple fishnets are a nice touch.

This amazing embroidered dress is from HBO’s Sharp Objects. It was worn by Patricia Clarkson as Adora Crellin. The embroidery is on a mesh overlay that has a French dart, godets in the skirt, raglan flutter sleeves, and is finished with a baby hem all around.

Image of a mannequin wearing a very delicate grey blue mesh dress with ornate bird and flower embroider all around, from FIDM's 13th Art of Television Costume Design exhibit

Check out the back. There is some lace detailing along the top, as well as equally ornate embroidery continuing down the bodice. Astounding.

Close up image of the back of a mannequin wearing a very delicate grey blue mesh dress with ornate bird and flower embroider all around, from FIDM's 13th Art of Television Costume Design exhibit

More embroidery!!

This is also from A Series of Unfortunate Events, worn by Morena Baccarin as Beatrice Baudelaire.

Image of a mannequin wearing a very light blue strapless dress with ornate floral embroidery all around and diaphanous wings on the back, from FIDM's 13th Art of Television Costume Design exhibit

The bodice was an embroidered strapless corset, but the skirt! Oh, that skirt is marvelous.

It’s again a mesh overlay that we were told was hand-embroidered but I wonder if that’s really true. That must have taken at least 1,000 man-hours!

And look at the hem! That is clearly hand sewn. And tacked to the underskirt at that.

Close-up image of a hand-tacked embroidered overlay skirt, from FIDM's 13th Art of Television Costume Design exhibit

Now here was a bit of a disappointment. Shrill is a Hulu show starring Aidy Bryant. She’s a splendidly curvy woman. But the museum did not have display mannequins that did her figure justice.

2 mannequins wearing clothes from Shrill which are clearly too large for them, making a mockery of the large actress who stars in the show, from FIDM's 13th Art of Television Costume Design exhibit

I’m sure they used the largest size mannequins they have. But FIDM is a fashion design school. They should have the requisite materials for padding out a mannequin to the proper proportions. And if not, you can definitely buy them on Amazon for less than $100!

Add a bit more boob here, a bit more hip there. But they didn’t do that here. So we’re left with a display that has saggy clothes that just look kind of terrible. It’s what Heidi Klum and Michael Kors would call “sad.”

Maybe that’s why Project Runway is filmed at Parsons and not FIDM, hmm?

Cropped image of a mannequin wearing a baggy black pinafore dress over a striped sweater, both of which are far too large for the mannequin, from FIDM's 13th Art of Television Costume Design exhibit

Where’s that dart going? To her non-existent bust point? Ugh!

Enough about this sad display. Let’s talk about the really GOOD stuff!

My two favorite displays were The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Game of Thrones! Maisel had more approachable clothing, so we’ll start there:

Image of 5 mannequins dressed in late 1950s attire from the Amazon Prime show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, from FIDM's 13th Art of Television Costume Design exhibit

A large part of season 2 took place at a resort in the Catskills (think the same kind of setting in Dirty Dancing), hence the more casual outfits than in season 1.

My favorite garments are the striped halter dress (far left) and green scalloped shorts (second from the right). Both are worn by Rachel Brosnahan who plays the title character (also known as Midge).

On further inspection, the striped dress is really more of a cross-front halter bodice with a gathered open front skirt that hides shorts underneath. It’s almost more like a robe, complete with front patch pockets! I think there must be a closure (maybe a hook and eye) hiding under the self-fabric belt.

Striped halter dress on a mannequin from the Amazon Prime show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, from FIDM 13th Art of Television Costume Design exhibit

There is a waist dart cleverly hidden in between the orange and brown stripe. Do you see it? Spectacular!

Detail view of the bodice dart on the striped halter dress on a mannequin from the Amazon Prime show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, from FIDM 13th Art of Television Costume Design exhibit

The scalloped shorts were paired with a gingham halter top with matching scalloping along the arms. The darts were a little strange on the blouse (probably due, again, to the mannequin’s proportions or lack thereof), but I love these kelly green shorts!

Close up shot of mannequin wearing green scalloped shorts, green gingham halter top, and yellow belt from the Amazon Prime show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, from FIDM 13th Art of Television Costume Design exhibit

Notice the dart in the pocket! The big yellow belt is obscuring the waist so I can’t tell if this is ornamental or functional, but I’m guessing it’s just for show. I also can’t tell where the zipper is, but it’s probably at center back.

I’d love to find patterns to hack into both the dress and shorts! Any suggestions???

These exhibitions are always so inspiring. I love seeing all of these little details that pass by too quickly to appreciate on tv. Not that I’m above pausing a show to take pictures of my screen (much to my husband’s amusement). But seeing the clothes in person and close enough to touch them is a completely different experience.

And there’s still the Game of Thrones costumes to share with you!

The GOT display was the centerpiece of this exhibit and posting just a picture or five here isn’t going to do it any justice.  I took 50 pictures of that area ALONE. So I’ll save that for Part 2 of FIDM’s 13th Art of Television Costume Design next week!

What was your favorite? Were you able to get to the exhibition? If so, which pieces were you mesmerized by? Please share your experience!

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