FIDM’s Oscar Worthy Gala


Lights, Camera, Action on FIDM’s Newest Film Costume Exhibit


With as much high energy as an Oscar Show ceremony itself, Shirley Wilson and Museum Shop director Judy Yaras greeted guests at the entrance to the festive preview viewing party gala introducing FIDM’s 2009 Film Costume Exhibit on January 24. 

The exhibit is free and open to the public.  It can be viewed 10-4 pm Wednesday- Saturday in the Gallery on the park, first level, through March 29.

 Friends, celebrities, neighbors, graduates and celebrities walked the red carpet from a friendly valet station under the school’s vaulted ceiling entrance.  They traded hugs in the misting, chilly evening and quickly stepped into the warm, beautifully tented party site behind the building.  A step outside and onto the green park affords a spectacular view of downtown L.A.

Guests could see “California Gold” host, Huell  Howser and Shirley Wilson deep in conversation during the evening at the entrance.  

Inside conversations were just as high energy even though they were conducted on comfy velvet couches and low tables. It was a treat to fashion watch the eclectic crowd that covered all ages and professions. FIDM students and graduates among them included Karine Khachigian and her twin sister, wearing their own sparkling jewelry designs, chatted up friends. 

Small and large arrangements of lush red roses were representative of the luxurious mood, setting off the tasty, bold flavors of original, zesty Pan-Asian salads, traditional Italian fare and even fun hamburger sliders and fries prepared by nearby Renaissance Catering.  An elaborate free standing coffee and hot chocolate display, complete with coffee and chocolate flavored cookies, helped ward off the nightly nip. 

The costume exhibit will thrill anyone who loves costumes on screen since it presents an opportunity to see the clothes up close and view them long enough to really appreciate the fine detail in the magnificent workmanship. 

The exhibition is arranged dramatically with groups of mannequins in separate sections and in separate small rooms with high ceilings.  Viewers wind their way through the gallery on a path that is well labeled in a brochure. 

One favorite that drew a crowd was Sanja Hays’s designs for “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.  It was a wonderful to be able to be one of the well wishers to thank and congratulate the modest Ms. Hays. 

Oscar nominated costumes in the exhibition include Jacqueline West‘s designs for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” (which took the Oscar); the royal outfits for “The Duchess” by Michael O’Connor, the Danny Glicker’s 70’s inspired outfits for “Milk” which he researched through documentaries and newsreels.   

The actual costumes for Oscar nominees that are part of the exhibition, include the clothes worn by Brad Pitt and by Taraji  Henson (“Benjamin Button”), Sean Penn (“Milk”), (Meryl Streep (“Doubt”) and Christian Bale and Heath Ledger (“Dark Knight”).

The exhibit provides ample reason for applauding FIDM’s pioneer Film & TV Costume Design Advanced Study Program. No one who has watched FIDM’s graduation fashion show in person or on Channel 9, or who has seen them strut their stuff at such events as a Macy’s Passport show would be surprised at the quality of the designs and the workmanship of the graduates who have gone on to be recognized designers. 

FIDM Film & TV Costume Design Grad Michelle Liu, an ’06 graduate, is credited as the Key Costume Designer on the Tim Burton film, Alice In Wonderland.   She also worked on Bedtime Stories and The Cleaner.

The new Film and TV Costume Design Advanced Study Program is a natural addition to FIDM’s core curriculum , another first in the country for the school after teaching theatre costume design for over a quarter of a century. 

Because the field of costume design has its own distinct tradition and creative challenge, students are offered in-depth exploration into the "behind-the-scenes" world of the Costume Design,  This even includes Script Analysis and industry terms give students a broad frame of cinematic reference they can use when dealing with directors and producers.  To advance this concept, students are introduced to industry professionals through guest lectures and internships.

FIDM mounts two or three major exhibitions each year. 

In the fall of 2008, the Juicy Couture Dedication Wall  was unveiled to honor graduate Pamela Skaist-Levy, Co-Deisgner/Founder of Juicy Couture. 

Another highlight of 2008 was “The 3rd Annual Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design Exhibition”  that was open from July 29 to September 28. 

The spring prior, FIDM honored “Fashionable Dress in an Artistic Landmark: The Gamble House, circa 19087 in a special exhibition of fashionable dress form the period in which the house was build a century ago, portraying members of the Gamble Family, their guests, and household staff.

The Los Angeles campus houses a Permanent and Study collection of over 12,000 costumes, accessories and textiles from the 18th century through the present day, including film and theater costume.   The timeless sketches and swatches cover an entire wall on the second floor and is one of the largest such collections in the United States. Top designer holdings include Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Dior and Lacroix.

The FIDM Museum also houses the early Hollywood Costume Collection on loan from the City of Los Angeles, Department of Recreation and Parks.  And The Annette Green Perfume Museum beautifully lighted on the second floor highlights the only museum in the United States dedicated to the historical and cultural roles of fragrance around the world.

The FIDM Museum & Library, Inc. was founded in 1978 to serve FIDM and the community, and became independent in January 1999

The museum is located at 919 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90015 and is open to the public.

For further information and a map, please see