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FIDM puts Oscar costumes on display

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For those who think showbizzers and fashionistas intersect only on the red carpet, there’s another place where the two meet. For nearly two decades, the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in downtown Los Angeles has been exhibiting costumes from films to coincide with awards season.

Selected by FIDM’s museum and galleries, the exhibition is a way for the institute to highlight costumes not only from period and sci-fi pics but also from contempo films. Kevin Jones, costume historian, says the idea is to offer a closer look in stop-motion, to see all the details and the accessories that get lost when so much else is happening in the film.

FIDM’s Jones and about a dozen others watch movies, trailers and study pictures to figure out what to include in the display.

“We want a broad cross-range, and a lot of designers’ work can look like costumes,” he says. “Our eyes have honed to what makes good costumes that tell a story to our students and the public.”

FIDM alum Marlene Stewart, whose costumes for “Date Night” will be on display, was in the garment business before moving to costume designing. She, like all the other costume designers, make their outfits for the character.

“One creates a trend by creating the publicity for it,” Stewart says. “So if a look is given front page coverage, then it often becomes a trend.”

Colleen Atwood, Oscar-nominated for “Alice in Wonderland,” has had her work displayed at the exhibit for some years. She says more and more people are archiving costumes, but they aren’t aware of how good a show FIDM puts on.

“I always bring my family and friends,” she says. “My fashionista friends don’t live in L.A.; if they did I would bring them. That kind of work is so rare, even in the fashion world.”

Mary Claire Hannan, a FIDM alum, is being repped for the first time in the display with the contempo looks for “The Kids Are All Right.” She called FIDM to be included in the display a few years ago when her work for “Into the Wild” was nominated for an Oscar. Unfortunately it was too late by then.

This time around Hannan’s proud to show her work to fellow alumni, students and instructors, who “knew your potential but not that I got further than they even thought and that I even thought,” she says.

The exhibition opens to the public Feb. 8 and runs until April 30.

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