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.