Photos by Alex J. Berliner/ABImages
If A Series of Unfortunate Events led us to these larger-than-life television costumes, where a sky-blue gown blooms with embroidered whispers of a garden, well then they were worth it.
My blogger bestie, Mari Makatsaria and I were like giddy girls in a costume confectionary at FIDM Museum’s 13th Annual Art of Television Costume Design exhibition in Los Angeles. Especially when beholding the 2-piece gown from A Series of Unfortunate Series and its accompanying dragonfly wings that are anatomically accurate, thanks to the reflective powers of laser-cut mylar. Besides myself, I equated the Cynthia Summers design to the runway couture, as it reminds me of the floor-grazing fashions from Christian Dior’s Spring 2017 Couture collection.
“Well, it is couture, because it is custom made,” Kevin Jones, FIDM Museum creator gushed to us. “The respect of costumes in TV has gone up and it’s reflected in our gallery and especially in this exhibition this year. It was not difficult to find fabulous costume.”
Perhaps the caliber of costume design is due to a modern series of fortunate events: the fact TV shows are now being experienced digitally.
“The entire world of TV has changed and inversed with the big screen, where these designers have serious budgets they can work with to do their work,” Kevin Jones, FIDM Museum Curator said. “I still hear, ‘do more with less’ and that they struggle, but the creativity has upped.”
I cannot help but agree with such sentiments, when the garments from some of my most beloved shows are fabricated before me. From the technicolor vibrance of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s second season to the fantastical fashions on the Emmy-winning Game of Thrones eighth and final season, I am overcome.
Seeing Michele Clapton’s fur-lined handiwork with a queenly gown spilling in a train of red leaves are details that are mere threads in the intricate scenes of the Game of Thrones finale but will become the stylish showstopper for any FIDM Museum visitor this fall.
“All of the embroidering was done by hand. It’s not like they found applicates. It’s literally couture,” Jones points out.
The mannequin comes to life with Sansa Stark’s hairstyle customized to the mannequin and crowned with a silver diadem. It’s as if she traveled from Westeros to model her ensemble before fans like me.
“No matter what the costume is, the point of what the actor is wearing is the character,” Jones remarks. “If you’re not concentrating on what they are wearing and you’re not supposed to, that means it’s a good costume. If you’re supposed to see what they are wearing and it is supposed to be crazy and outlandish, that’s a good costume, because that is the intent of the designer.”
Speaking of the designer’s intent, their resolve can lead to some quite hilarious predicaments that become hidden stories in this exhibition. You may not realize that the metallic purple Octopus dress from A Series of Unfortunate Events is kept inflated by way of a foot-pump. And when looking upon the skeletal crinoline with a matching bustier, you’ll discover that the design clearances can be a matter of… life or death. Just ask Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s Melina Root.
“They already created these skeleton dresses for everyone in the dance number when the PR department asked, ‘did you get approval of the use of the skeleton image for the dead person?’” Jones tells us. “So, they had to redo it, to find the image of the skeleton, get it cleared and had to remake all the outfits because they had an unapproved skeleton image!”
What are your favorite TV Show Costumes?
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