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Last week I attended “The Iconic Moment”, an event hosted by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, during the LA Film Festival. This event brought together Michael Kaplan, Jeffery Kurland, Ellen Mirojnick, and Sophie de Rakoff to have a chat about costume design. With Laura Dern moderating, the panel was a great look at iconic costumes, the process, and personal moments.

North by Northwest

Michael Kaplan: Iconic costume pick

The Graduate

Jeffery Kurland: Iconic costume pick

Ellen Mirojnick: Iconic costume pick

Ellen Mirojnick: Iconic costume pick

Sophia de Rakoff: Iconic costume pick

Sophia de Rakoff: Iconic costume pick

Starting out the night with a reception of wine, tiny bites, and catching up with friends. The panel quickly started, with much excitement, we watched a group of costume designers waiting to be introduced. With each introduction, a roar of applause, and then movie clips, each with an iconic costume. These clips were personal and influential to the costume designer, carrying meaning and showing the importance of storytelling held within costume design. Jeffery Kurland chose Mrs. Robinson from The Graduate, an iconic character played wonderfully by Anne Bancroft. Mrs. Robinson’s leopard print coat was Jeffery Kurland’s pick but Kurland felt her whole wardrobe had great meaning. Not only was this movie influential in Jeffery Kurland’s personal life, like many young graduates, but also a great example of the role costume design can play in storytelling. What makes these costumes iconic? All designers seemed to be in agreement, costumes can only become iconic over time, it could be the actor who embodies the character. Like Ellen Mirojnick’s choice of Breakfast at Tiffany’s staring Audrey Hepburn, and iconic women, wearing an iconic brand, and playing an iconic character.

flashdance MPW-33273

The designers were also asked to pick a movie clip from their own career, each clip contained an iconic costume. Sophia de Rakoff and Michael Kaplan had a similar experience, Sophia de Rakoff chose Legally Blonde II, Elle Woods pink Jackie O inspired suit. Michael Kaplan chose Flashdance, Alex Owens sweatshirt. Both have reached iconic status, each is part of the social conscious, and immortalized in small-scale on a Barbie. Sophia de Rakoff explained that both costumes were placed on the movie poster, a possible reason for the iconic status. Another factor could be the want of the viewer to emulate a character they admire or to capture a piece of the magic.

The panel was really fantastic, dripping with knowledge, and with many lovely stories about their work and experiences. It was a treat and pleasure to hear Michael Kaplan, Jeffery Kurland, Ellen Mirojnick, and Sophie de Rakoff speak passionately about their work.

I’ll leave you with advice from Jeffery Kurland, if you want to become a costume designer, you must LOVE IT, don’t stop working, and learn all that you can.

Hello kind readers,

Sorry I’ve been away since October, my blog is officially on a school hiatus.

I’m currently in my last semester of college and working on my senior collection, life is busy!

I hope to be back in late May with more geeky costume design content.

For updates like FASHIONED FOR THE GEEK on facebook.

Thank you for visiting and see you in May!


Last Saturday I was able to peruse some fantastic television costume designs at the FIDM Museum & Galleries. If you have been to the FIDM Museum in Los Angeles then you know it is tiny but can carry a punch. For the past 6 years the FIDM Museum has been showing the Emmy nominated costume designs. You can’t take pictures but you do get a little booklet that is filled with information about the television show, costume designer, and time period.

There were a few pieces that I was incredibly excited to see and some that I didn’t know but excited me into a costume induced tizzy. Boardwalk Empire was the first, the costume are very detailed, the color are so strong, and I felt as if I was looking at actual historic pieces.

From Boardwalk Empire I turned to find behind me Game of Thrones, another television show with highly detailed costumes. A costume standout was Daenerys Targaryen’s, the detail would not be possible to see on television, the overdress is patterned with a sliver leaf print, a beautiful detail that is sadly lost on screen. All others were extremely detailed, fabrics that are embellished, and such a richness in color.

Just across the way were the Downton Abbey costumes, just as stunning in person, I was most excited to see my favorite. Sybil’s harem pants, a costume that most illustrates her character in my eyes. In person you are able to see sewing techniques used on the harem pants and the fine beading on Lady Mary, Dowager Countess of Grantham, and Isobel Crawley’s costumes.

Around and hidden in the corner was American Horror Story, a television show that I have now been completely sucked into after seeing the costumes. The costumes are a mix of historic, contemporary, and horror. Each costume on display was so strong and distinct. I was most excited by Rubber Man’s costume, it has a strong impact in person as it does on screen, it is not over the top and beautiful in its sleek and minimal design.

There were so many fantastic designs there, I enjoyed Sons of Anarchy for how grounded the designs felt, Revenge for the strong pattern and textured designs of the men, and The Fresh Beat Band for the utility and nicely executed dinosaurs. Overall it was a great experience and I cannot wait for next!

This exhibit ends October 20, 2012 so do check it out!

The FIDM Museum & Galleries also shows the Annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design. This takes place early in the year so mark your calendars!

As a side note while writing this I started to read the booklet that came with the exhibit and sadly it put me off, I had a really wonderful time and this was a big letdown, let’s just say sources were not cited.

Thank you to Frocktalk for taking some wonderful pictures!