Exhibit showcases Oscar film fashion

Apparel: Nominated costumes on display

For the movies that are nominated there are screenings galore, but for below-the-liners who are also in the running there are few places to exhibit their work.

Enter the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, whose execs saw an obvious link with Hollywood and organized a display of costumes from films and later TV.

Initially, getting those costumes was no easy task. Toni Hohburg, FIDM president, says the first year the Art of Motion Picture Costume Design covered 10 films, but the number has greatly increased thanks to the support of the studios and the Costume Designers Guild.

Robert Nelson, museum director, says besides the five Oscar — and 15 Costume Designers Guild — nominees, the 2008 exhibit (which runs through April 12), displays 125 costumes from 25 films.

Several are returning designers and quite a few are FIDM alumni, including “Enchanted’s” Mona May and “Shooter’s” Ha Nguyen.

The highlight of the current show for Nelson is the range of periods the costumes depict, from B.C. (“300”) to the Middle Ages (“Beowulf,” “Elizabeth: The Golden Age”) to the 1960s (“Across the Universe,” “Nancy Drew”). The exhibit also includes period costumes from China (“Lust, Caution”) and India (“Eklavya: The Royal Guard”).

Getting those displays has been quite an adventure. Museum historian and FIDM alum Kevin Jones says the organizers plan a year ahead.

“Once production ends, the costumes are scattered,” he explains. Some are rented, so FIDM has to ask early in order to get the clothes it wants.

And even then there are hurdles. Johnny Depp’s contract allows him to keep his costumes. So the only way for the exhibition to show his Oscar-nominated costume from “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” was for someone he trusted to bring it.

That valet was Colleen Atwood, who designed the wardrobes for “Sweeney” and Depp’s other Tim Burton films. The day before the exhibition opened, she flew in from London with the leather jacket and the rest of his ensemble and personally dressed the mannequin.

Trying to get the “La Vie en rose” costumes in time for the exhibit proved to be a nail-biting experience. After being held up in Customs, the costumes finally arrived at 11:30 a.m. opening day.

But once everything is in place, not only can the public enjoy the exhibition but also fellow costume designers. At the exhibit’s grand opening, “Atonement’s” Jacqueline Durran, another nominee, and Atwood chatted while checking out other costumes.

“I loved seeing ‘Blades of Glory’ up close and personal,” Durran says. “It’s so outrageous. I’d seen the costumes for ‘Elizabeth’ already, so it wasn’t new for me to see, but still it was great, beautiful stuff.”

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