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Western Costume marks 100th anni

Pic outfitter cleans out closet for exhibition

Picking an outfit to wear can be difficult, but imagine having a million options.

To mark Western Costume’s 100th anniversary, the company is partnering with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Costume Council for a sartorial celebration Wednesday at LACMA’s Bing Theater, complete with panel discussion and live pageant featuring recreations of some of Western’s most famous duds.

The presentation’s 42 costumes and several vignettes will offer a trip through history, from Moses to the present. Some threads will be genre pieces worn in hundreds of films, and others will be original star pieces, including Katharine Hepburn’s costume from “Rooster Cogburn” and Russell Crowe’s from “3:10 to Yuma.”

Western Costume also re-created a number of classic outfits, including the velvet drapery gown from “Gone With the Wind” and a “Cleopatra”-inspired dress using Claudette Colbert’s original headdress. Eddie Marks, Western Costume prexy, considers these “wow costumes.”

“When the audiences sees them, they’ll know immediately what they are,” he said.

Marks will be on hand to open the evening. Panel will include costumer designers Ellen Mirojnick and Carol Ramsey, supervisor Jim Tyson, milliner Harry Rotz and shoemaker Mauricio Osorio. Bobi Garland, archivist and research library director of North Hollywood-based Western Costume, will moderate.

Western Costume’s history is almost is colorful as its wardrobes. Company was founded by L.L. Burns, who settled in L.A. a century ago after years of travels as a trader in Native American artifacts. When he saw that Hollywood filmmakers were in need of authentic Native American costumes, he saw a market opportunity for his collection. Soon, Western Costume was providing all manner of outfits for the film companies that were sprouting like wildflowers, including for such silent classics as “Birth of a Nation,” “The General” and “The Sheik.”

The centennial celebration event has been in the works for about six months. With all the necessary planning, Marks said it was a great deal of work.

“It was like putting a movie together,” he said.

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