Fashionistas Bring Star Power to Celebrate Academy’s Hollywood Costume Exhibit

Dawn Hudson and Kiernan Shipka at
Valerie Macon/Getty Images

Despite the fact that well-dressed celebs like Diane Kruger, Zoe Saldana and Kiernan Shipka joined costume designers like Sandy Powell and Julie Weiss on Oct. 1 at the former Wilshire May Company building for AMPAS’ celebration of its new Hollywood Costume exhibit, curator and costume designer Deborah Nadoolman Landis maintains that the art of costume design is more than just fashionable garments.

“This is not an exhibition about clothes,” Nadoolman Landis told reporters earlier in the week. “This is an exhibition about the movies, about storytelling, about the characters; how, when you see a movie, you can see it over and over and over again because you want to be in it, you want to be with those people. And it is true, sometimes you want to dress like those people. Sometimes, as I know as a designer of ‘Indiana Jones,’ you want to buy that jacket, you want to buy that hat … why is that? It’s because we’re so connected. It’s only a movie. How does that happen? It’s because the costume designer helps create those people.”

The highly interactive exhibit of over 100 costumes — some of which also feature crystals courtesy of sponsor Swarovski — runs the gamut of period pieces like those designers James Acheson and Milena Canonero did for “Dangerous Liaisons” and “Marie Antoinette,” to CGI films like Deborah L. Scott and Mayes C. Rubeo’s “Avatar” costumes and, for the comicbook fans, superhero looks like Christian Bale’s “The Dark Knight Rises” bat suit, designed by Lindy Hemming. Nadoolman Landis also included some of her own work, including Harrison Ford’s aforementioned leather bomber jacket. But perhaps the piece de resistance is a pair of ruby slippers from “The Wizard of Oz” designed by Adrian Adolph Greenberg, a costume designer known professionally by his first name who also designed for films like 1939’s “The Women” and 1940’s “The Philadelphia Story.”

“This groundbreaking exhibition provides a unique perspective on some of our most iconic and unforgettable characters from a century of Hollywood filmaking,” AMPAS prexy Cheryl Boone Isaacs said earlier in the week, adding “This landmark exhibition reflects the Academy’s mission of celebrating and observing the past, honoring the present and shaping the future of world cinema — which will also be the core mission of our museum.”

Hollywood Costume Exhibition runs through March 2 at the Wilshire May Building. Ticket information and hours can be found at

(Pictured: AMPAS’ Dawn Hudson and Kiernan Shipka at the Hollywood Costume opening party)

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  1. After looking forward to the inaugural event at the Academy’s work-in-progress at Wilshire and Fairfax I was pleased to find they had made a valiant effort to present the collection of various historic costumes in a somewhat casual manner do to the fact that the old May Co. building is not ready for its closeup. It was really nice to see these iconic costumes along with various forms of descriptions and explanations complimenting the items.
    There are a few areas in need of improvement though. First, it was too dark, way too dark. My ankle hit the corners of the displays several times, one light was out so an usher was standing by with a flashlight to guide us. Displays that were not within arm’s length were not easy to see the details on. Second, the incidental music was too loud. Third, some, not all, displays had a photo of the related star that moved in a creepy fashion. Also, some of the text displays had an annoying scrolling going on where the words go bigger as you tried to read them. Finally, it seemed as though Meryl Streep must have been the chairperson of the selection committee as she had an entire island devoted to only her costumes. She is a super talent but why the special treatment? They could improve the exit as well. You are dumped out into a back alley.
    I may return with another guest interested in costumes though as I enjoyed the presentation overall.

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