FIDM's Annual Movie Costume Exhibit

From now until April 30th, you can see the year’s best movie costumes up close at the FIDM Museum. It’s all part of their 24th annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design exhibition

The Revenant

Costumes from The Revenant.

Jacqueline West

Jacqueline West designed The Revenant‘s costumes and is nominated for an Oscar.

“Working with Alejandro Iñárritu drew me to this movie, because I have always loved his work. The other perk was working with Production Designer Jack Fisk and Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki. I’ve done six movies with the three of us all together, so we’re kind of an ensemble. Plus, I have a ranch in South Dakota close to where this story took place. In that area Hugh Glass, the real life inspiration for Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, is an icon. He was attacked by a bear and crawled from northern South Dakota to a fort in southern South Dakota with one broken leg, a dislocated ankle, shredded back, broken arm and he crawled all that way keeping the Black Hills on his right to guide him. Since this story was about him, I felt like I kind of had to do it.  

I primarily found out what 19th century frontiersman looked like from reading, because there aren’t a lot of pictures or drawings. There are wonderful journals that many of the fur trappers kept on their expeditions that mention what the men wore, how their clothes were made, at what point did they get rid of their European clothing and start wearing leathers and furs. There was an incredible book I read early on called Forty Years a Fur Trapper, with the most brilliant descriptions about how when the men got off the boats in St. Louis, their clothes were so dirty and cover in bear grease after two years in the wilderness that you couldn’t tell what they were made of. 

I tried to buy everything from First Nations, which is the equivalent of our Native Americans in Canada, so that the First Nations people would benefit from the film and be able to be a part of it. So most of the leathers came from a fur trading company that buys their furs from First Nations people. The bear skin was procured from the Canadian Parks Department from their lottery. So nothing was taken or killed just for the movie, everything was taken from animals that had been killed for food. 

Keeping everybody warm was a trick. People did survive that weather then. Now, people are not quite as rugged, so it was a combination of the leathers and furs, to keep them looking as authentic as possible, and things like polyurethane when they were going in the water. On the 40 below days, we had electrified clothing. I found that by a bicycle clothing maker in Calgary who was beginning to put LED’s through gloves and socks for bicyclists in harsh conditions and he started making clothes for me for some of the actors who were going to be out on the ice for a sustained period of time. But it was still hard to keep them warm. One day Will Poulter’s hair froze while he was sitting doing a scene.” Jacqueline West


 Paco Delgado

Paco Delgado designed the look of The Danish Girl. He’s up for an Oscar and won the Costume Designer Guild Award for Period Film

The Danish Girl

Costumes from The Danish Girl.

“I learned about this project when I was doing a very different kind of movie–a crazy, contemporary movie with Sacha Baron Cohen called The Brothers Grimsby. When I finish one project, I always feel like I should do something totally different for the next, so it felt like a good moment to go back to a period film, which I love. Also, I already worked with Tom Hooper and Eddie Redmayne on Les Misérables. Tom Hooper told me, “I’m not going to tell you what the whole thing is about,” and even though I knew about Lile Elbe, I didn’t know she was “The Danish Girl.” At the beginning of reading the script, I thought it was just about two painters struggling to get better, because that’s what the beginning of the movie is like. And then suddenly, I was reading that Gerda asks Einar to put some stockings on, and that has an amazing reaction in Einar’s psyche. And then little by little, the story started to open up and I just loved it. I called Tom and I said, “I really really have to do this movie.”

We actually had quite a small budget for costumes in this movie, because it was a little, and very intimate project. Tom Hooper, the director, wanted us to really think through the choices without having a lot of money, because he thinks this is the best way to create art. The first dress that Lile wears in the movie is a dress that she puts on for the artist ball and we just wanted to create an amazing impression of a very dramatic and theatrical dress. We found out that the fashion designer Jeanne Lanvin was creating at the end of the nineteen-teens and the beginning of the nineteen twenties, a style of clothes called Robe de Style, and we thought that was fantastic for Eddie Redmayne to wear because it was full in the waist, and very tasteful.

There’s a lot of blue in the costumes, because to me that was the color of Copenhagen, maybe it’s because of Denmark’s association with the sea. Also, some tones of blue can be very cold, but some can be warm. So blue became a leitmotif through the whole movie.

We went to antique shops and flea markets to buy old dresses and re-make them into new dresses. It was a really really really nice project, because it felt very artistic. Sometimes when you work on bigger movies, you sit at a table and draw and draw and draw and aren’t very hands on. But for this movie, it was a very hands on project.” Paco Delgado

Nick Verreos

FIDM Spokesman Nick Verreos in front of costumes from Cinderella.

“We’ve got 100 costumes from more than 23 movies, including all the Academy Award-nominated movies. So you’ll see costumes Cinderella and Carol, both done by costume designer Sandy Powell. You’ve got costumes from Mad Max: Fury Road done by Jenny Beaven, as well as the ones from The Revenant and The Danish Girl. And if that isn’t enough, we also have the costumes from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Trumbo, Straight Outta Compton, Pitch Perfect–there’s such a great variety, especially this year. You’ll see some period costumes, but also science fiction and contemporary. FIDM is a college, so we’re here to instruct and we want to teach people about costume design. This is a town that’s about movies, but also fashion. So this kind of exhibition is great for people who love both, and maybe some people who aren’t necessarily interested in either, but find something here they want to see, like those Star Wars super fans.” Nick Verreos


Costumes from Cinderella.

photos courtesy Susie Goodman

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