The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is holding its first exhibit in the space that will become Hollywood’s premier museum devoted to the movies.
Hollywood Costume opened this month inside the historic May Co. building on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, which is set to reopen as the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in 2017.
“This exhibition is… a launching point for the new museum,” said Kerry Brougher, the museum’s director. “It’s really marking our territory here as the place where fabulous exhibitions will happen about the history of the motion picture.”
The high-tech exhibit includes more than 150 costumes and dozens of digital monitors. Some show the stars as they looked when they wore the outfits; others play film clips of directors such as Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese discussing their collaborations with costume designers.
Visitors can see Charlie Chaplin’s costume and cane from 1915’s The Tramp, Marlene Dietrich’s beaded, fur-trimmed gown from 1937’s Angel and Julie Andrews’ Mary Poppins dress and umbrella from the 1964 film.
A collection of regal, gilded gowns fit for a queen — Queen Elizabeth, to be exact — stand together, including one worn by Bette Davis in 1955’s The Virgin Queen and another donned by Judi Dench in 1998’s Shakespeare in Love.
There is a section of superhero costumes, featuring Christopher Reeve as Superman flying overhead. Another area is dedicated to characters played by Meryl Streep, with video of the actress talking about how costumes affect her performances.
A gallery of some of the most iconic costumes dazzles with its breadth: The Edith Head-designed dress worn by Ginger Rogers in 1944’s Lady in the Dark; the beaded gown and fur stole that adorned Marilyn Monroe in 1959’s Some Like it Hot; John Travolta’s groovy white suit from 1977’s Saturday Night Fever; Julia Roberts’ red dress from 1990’s Pretty Woman; the blue velvet suit that transformed Mike Myers into “Austin Powers” in 1997; and two original pairs of ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in 1939’s The Wizard of Oz.
First shown at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, Hollywood Costume is curated by Deborah Nadoolman Landis, the costume designer who created the togas in Animal House and Indiana Jones’ signature look in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
“This is not an exhibition about clothes,” she said. “This is an exhibition about the movies.”
▪ Hollywood Costume will be on view through March 2, 2015 at 6067 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles; 310-247-3049; www.oscars.org/hollywoodcostume. The exhibit is open every day except Wednesday. Admission: $20 adults, $15 seniors (62+), $10 for students with ID and children under 13. Groundbreaking on the new museum facility is set for late spring.