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“It’s not an exhibition about clothes,” costume designer Deborah Nadoolman Landis, the curator of Hollywood Costume — the inaugural exhibit at L.A.’s future Academy Museum of Motion Pictures — announced at the exhibition’s preview on Monday. “This is an exhibition about the movies, storytelling, about caring, about how you can see a movie over and over and over again because you want to be in it.”
The Hollywood Costume exhibition — presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, where it was first showcased — does just that, allowing visitors to be part of a cinematic character’s development through a sartorial scope, whether through a simple Gap sweatshirt featured in The Social Network or the iconic hat worn by Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark (which Landis, who is the founding director and chair of the David C. Copley Center for Costume Design at UCLA, created as costume designer on that iconic 1981 film).
After spending five years curating more than 150 original costume pieces, the “innovative exhibition,” as Landis passionately describes it, has crossed the pond and found its new home at L.A.’s Wilshire May Company building next to LACMA, where film buffs and costume design enthusiasts alike will surely geek out over their favorite silver-screen ensembles.
So what makes this display — which opens Oct. 2 — stand out among other costume exhibits we’ve come across? Here, we explain.
1. Landis is right — the exhibit really isn’t just clothes.
To bring the costumes to life, Landis incorporated digital faces of the stars above their respective costumes in Act III “Finale.” Think of Amy Adams‘ American Hustle character and her face (eye blinks and all) projected on a TV screen above her neck-plunging embellished gown or Glenn Close as villain Cruella de Vil in 102 Dalmatians with her menacing face floating above her sequined houndstooth ensemble.
2. Beyonce is a part of the gallery.
OK, so maybe not Queen Bey herself but rather the strapless gown she wore in Dream Girls while performing this song. But with a screen presenting a digital version of Beyonce as Deena Jones behind the performance dress, it practically feels like Bey is there with us.
3. So is Meryl Streep.
Steps away from Christopher Reeves‘ Superman ensemble is an entire display featuring a prerecorded in-depth interview with the Academy Award-winning actress alongside costumes from some of her most famous roles, including The Iron Lady and Kramer vs. Kramer. During her interview, she even reveals how costume design influenced her acting career. So cool.
4. You can watch famous filmmakers chat with their longtime costume designers.
One section of the exhibit (Act II “Dialogue”) features almost creepily real video of directors Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Mike Nichols and Tim Burton, “sitting” and chatting about their films alongside celebrated costume designers Sandy Powell, Sharen Davis, Ann Roth and Colleen Atwood, respectively. Just listen to what they have to say and be inspired.
5. It’s pretty rad to see two of Hollywood’s most iconic items ever in real life.
Marilyn Monroe‘s white silk halter dress from The Seven Year Itch and Dorothy’s ruby slippers, as worn by Judy Garland, in The Wizard of Oz. Enough said.
The Hollywood Costume exhibit runs from Oct. 2 to March 2. For more info on tickets and hours, visit www.oscars.org/HollywoodCostume.
Photos courtesy of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences / Richard Harbaugh / ©A.M.P.A.S.
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