Is It Any Good?

The history of Hollywood in Costume form, as well as an education on the job and talents of the Costumer Designer.

Providing Costumes for a Motion Picture isn’t just a matter of wandering down to the Wardrobe Department, and throwing an actor into a Cowboy Outfit for your Cowboy Hero. It’s a lot more complex than that, and Hollywood Costume at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Museum is out to show you, just a glimpse at how it’s done.

It’s not just a matter of making your stars pretty (although you want to do that), or making sure the stuff fits perfectly (although you want to do that too), it’s about…and I kid you not…helping establish the character in question, and doing so in such a way that feels seamless to the audience.

Hollywood Costume was curated by Deborah Nadoolman Landis, former President of the Costumer Designers Guild, and the Costumer Designer supreme in her own right.

She’s also responsible for a particular, iconic costume you may have heard of:

The best Hollywood Costumes fit with their cinematic worlds so well, and in such a way that you barely notice there was a hand at work behind them.

But there was, and you’ll get the chance to meet those minds as you wander the exhibit. True, you’ll see a lot of great costumes from a lot of great movies. You’ll see both versions of the Superman Costume, one from Superman: the Movie and Man of Steel. You will see one of the original Han Solo costume.

Yes, I noticed just now. I’m doing a bunch of guy films. Worry not! So much of Hollywood Costume is dedicated to the glamour gowns and dresses of your favorite actresses as well. In fact, Meryl Streep gets her own complete section, as well as Marilyn’s dress from the Seven Year Itch. A collection of costumes from the women who’ve played Elizabeth the First.

It’s a dazzling little exhibit, and best of all, it gives us a taste of just what is possible when they get the Academy Museum up and running.

Hollywood Costume runs through March 2, 2014.


IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Some safety tips, we’ll cover in the parking section. Others need to be discussed up front.

One, there is absolutely no photography permitted in the exhibit. Period.

This is something as a photographer I feel mixed about. On the one hand, as a former employee in a Studio Legal Department. I get it. The costumes and their images are the intellectual property of the Studios in question, and it probably took a mammoth effort on the part of the Academy Museum to part with these costumes, even for a little while. And the Studios don’t want to see images of these costumes popping up all over the internet

On the other, c’mon man. These are costumes from movies you’ve (I mean the Studios in this case) have pretty much exploited already. At this point, it would greatly help the Museum if you let some tourists take some pictures and put them on twitter. Hell, you can even stick the LACMA rule on them, no “flash” photography. That’ll ruin plenty of shots.

Either way, it’s hard to talk about and generate interest in an exhibit, where the only thing you’re allowed to photograph is this:

Hollywood Costume 2014 4

It’s not like these are the Pentagon Papers or anything.

Okay, on the two. Two is the fact that with a LACMA Membership, you get $5 off your ticket into the Exhibit.

Three is the bad news. That ticket is $20 bucks. Slightly steep for a Museum with exactly one exhibit, but they gotta raise money.


PARKING: Okay, what follows is unofficial, but we need to see how this works out.

I, as a LACMA Member parked in the LACMA Garage, then when to the Academy Museum. That’s something LACMA actively discourages for places like the Petersen Museum and Craft and Folk Art Museum across the street. But I’m sensing a bit more of a partnership with the Academy Museum (the five dollars off and all). Plus there’s the fact that the Academy Museum, when done, will be pretty much sitting on the same property as LACMA.

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So basically, park at the LACMA Garage if you can. Otherwise, try the meters on Sixth Street. You can also, maybe try the Lot at the Page Museum.

Other than that try another day.


Hollywood Costume
Academy Museum of Motion Pictures
6067 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles 90036

Wilshire May Company Building, corner of Wilshire and Fairfax

Monday 11 am–5 pm
Tuesday 11 am–5 pm
Wednesday Closed
Thursday 11 am–5 pm
Friday 11 am–8 pm
Saturday 10 am–7 pm
Sunday 10 am–7 pm