Hollywood Costume Exhibit

Hollywoood Costume_ATG FINAL HEADER


What: Hollywood Costume Exhibit
Where: The Historic Wilshire May Company Building
Location: 6067 Wilshire Boulevard, Miracle Mile
Cost: $20.00


Unlike some years, I’ll remember fondly how I kicked-off 2015…and that’s in-style. Literally. While most likely spent January 1st curled up on the couch nursing their New Year’s Eve hang-over, we found our way through the easily maneuverable LA streets to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences new home on Wilshire Boulevard. Currently inside the historic Wilshire May Company Building, resides a tribute to Hollywood history. The caveat is that this history is told through fabric and shoes, handbags and hats.

Hollywood Costume creates the rare opportunity of introducing movie-lovers to the iconic wardrobe worn by some of the most legendary actors to ever grace the big screen. The exhibition highlights over 150 costumes spanning the Golden Age of Cinema (the late 1920s) to the present day. Its aim is not only to allow the costumes themselves to step out of the screen and into the general public, but to further acquaint fiction with reality by inviting an up-close and personal look at those behind these emblematic looks, the costume designer.

Hollywood Costume ATG FINAL CU{Front entrance.}

The exhibition’s message is clear: without costume designers and what they bring to the table, one of the most pivotal aspects to the cinematic process is valueless. Costumes encourage character development, create a sense of time and place, and most importantly, drive the narrative. Ultimately, without the right look an “actor” is just “an actor,” but with the right attire, an “actor” becomes someone we see as a character, separate from the movie star on-screen. This is why we see Indiana Jones, and not Harrison Ford; why we see Batman, and not Christian Bale; and why we see Dorothy Gale, not Judy Garland.

Hollywood Costume TIX_ATG FINAL{Tickets.}

Like the characteristics of Hollywood itself, the exhibition expressively features a dramatic, and moody approach. Dim, yet strategic lighting showcases the glitz of a dress or the cut of a suit. The room instantly encourages viewers to travel back in time, to when you first met these pieces on-camera. The treat here is not only seeing wardrobe that’s instantly recognizable, but absorbing the words and video interviews of those personally involved with building the looks, reminiscing over how and what it took to create these iconic movie characters.

See the white ivory William Travilla dress that exposed Marilyn Monroe’s legs as she famously stood over the subway grate in The Seven Year Itch (that same dress sold for $4.6 million at a 2011 auction). Stand in front of Julie Andrew’s Mary Poppins costume. See Beyoncé as a “Dreamgirl.” Take a moment to re-visit Julia Roberts’ memorable red evening gown in Pretty Woman. Look at Rocky’s actual boxing shorts. See one of Elizabeth Taylor’s Cleopatra ensembles. Batman, Superman, Captain America, Spiderman, Darth Vader; and Bond…James Bond, all make an appearance. And the highlight, staring at Dorothy’s famous (estimated $3-$4 million dollar-valued) ruby slippers from 1939’s The Wizard of Oz.

It’s hard to capture the breadth of what’s contained in the exhibition in words. Unfortunately, photography is not allowed inside the galleries. I shot the exteriors, but the following images are courtesy of The Academy to give you a taste of what’s inside:

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{Leonardo DiCaprio as Jack Dawson / Kate Winslet as Rose DeWitt Bukater, Titanic, 1997}

The Birds_Costume_ATG FINAL

{Tippi Hedren as Melanie Daniels, The Birds, 1963}

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{Front: Chris Evans as Captain America / Henry Cavill as Superman (2013)
Top: Christopher Reeves as Superman (1978)
Back: Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man / Christian Bale as Batman}

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{Julia Roberts as Vivian Ward, Pretty Woman, 1990}

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{Daniel Craig as James Bond / Harrison Ford as Han Solo / Uma Thurman as The Bride (Kill Bill)}

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{Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg, The Social Network, 2010 / Ben Affleck as Tony Mendez, Argo, 2012}

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{Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones.}

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{A special tribute to the range characters played by the incomparable Meryl Streep. Looks from The Iron Lady, It’s Complicated, Mamma Mia, and Out of Africa.}

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{Amy Adams as Sydney Prosser / Christian Bale as Irving Rosenfeld, American Hustle, 2013}

Needless to say, it was an unforgettable way to spend my first afternoon of 2015. Nearly three hours later, we emerged, filled with a rich and renewed appreciation for costume design. It’s pretty astounding when you think about how much clothing impacts a film and your memory of it. I don’t necessarily recollect every aspect of a film, but can instantly be transported to that world (or a time in my life) when seeing even a short clip of a sweeping camera movement over an iconic costume.

Hollywood Costume does a phenomenal job of curating and combining my two favorite “F” words: film and fashion. It salutes and elevates key players and key moments in the art of cinema.

Just a note that if you plan to visit Hollywood Costume, that it is a timed exhibition. This means that guests are admitted into the presentation at designated time slots on specific days to prevent over-crowding. It’s encouraged that you buy your tickets in advance on-line. (Hint: use promo code “MayCo” for a special discount).

The exhibition closes Monday, March 2nd.

Get there quick…you won’t regret it!

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{Program.}

Hollywood Costume Exterior_ATG FINAL

{Full exterior, Wilshire May Co. Building. Saying goodbye after an incredible day.}

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*Interior photo sources via The Academy website press kit.

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Journey of a Dress: From Princess to Fashion Legend

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What: Journey of a Dress

$: Free

Where: Wilshire May Company Building

Location: 6067 Wilshire Boulevard, Miracle Mile

 


D.V.F. 

You know someone has made their mark in the world when you refer to them with just three single letters. Without question, Diane von Furstenberg, is and will leave this world, a fashion legend.

Once, a real life princess in the early 70s wanted to be more than just someone’s glamorous wife and decided to start a fashion career shortly after marrying a real life prince. Unlike most fairy-tales filled with princes and princesses, theirs wasn’t a happy ending. Luckily, this isn’t the end of her story. In fact, it was just the beginning.

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{DVF, 1972.}

DVF’s claim to fame came in 1974 when creatively taking an everyday piece of clothing, the woman’s dress, and revamping its design to harmonize with the changing of times for the then modern-day female.

It was the wrap dress. A cotton jersey knit, drip-dry dress that typically hit just above the knee, conveniently wrapped in front and tied ever-so-chicly at the waist. It came in vibrant colors and eclectic patterns. It signified independence, playfulness, sophistication, confidence, and sexual liberation – while catering to practicality, comfort, and femininity.

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{The tag that started it all.}

Women no longer needed their significant others to help them in or out of dresses that had tricky buttons or hard to reach zippers down the back. They could easily dress (or undress) themselves in no time at all. DVF’s ever popular design worn by millions, could easily take a woman from the rigors of the boardroom to a night out on the town. In effect, the 1st generation wrap dress revolutionized fashion and womanhood during the frenetic energy that was the 1970s.

And it turns 40 in 2014.

DVF thew it a big 40th birthday bash and invited us all to the party.

Thus, the phenomenal exhibition, Journey of a Dress.

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{Exterior – Wilshire May Company Building, today.}

Just adjacent to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), resides the historic May Company Building on the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax Boulevard. Once home to one of the finest department stores on the legendary Miracle Mile in Los Angeles, the Art Deco inspired building is now an LA landmark due to its streamline moderne architectural design. The building itself is nostalgic to fine retail, high fashion, conservation, and permanence in Los Angeles culture. Most appropriately, it’s the site for our “Journey of a Dress.”

Collage Exterior

{Exterior – Wilshire May Company Building, today.}

The moment you walk into the space, you realize very quickly that the theme and intention of the exhibition is to remain true to the spirit of her iconic wrap dresses. The ambience is fun, feminine, and vibrant.

The first gallery pulsates with upbeat music, bright pink walls, neon writing, and her famous signature chain link dress print creatively used as treatment on the floor. Picture after picture of Ms. DVF herself and the impact of her dress across fashion, film, politics, and the everyday woman is showcased in a visually enthralling timeline format.

interior gallery

{Timeline gallery.}

As you take in the large photos of everyone from Cybill Sheperd in Taxi Driver in 1976, to Michelle Obama on current political business, each donning the wrap dress as they move through their endeavors, you grasp the lingering impact of what really is just a simple idea. From Studio 54 to the White House, the wrap dress, which epitomized versatility in design, was and is versatility itself. And though it’s turning 40, the age where women might start to feel less than youthful, the wrap dress is proving to be otherwise. It’s proving to be timeless.

Wrap-Dress Gallery #1

{Madonna, Michelle Obama, Penelope Cruz among others to rock the iconic wrap-dress.}

Suddenly, you’re in the next gallery. The music a touch louder, the floors (and now walls) all covered in DVF’s vibrant signature dress prints.

And then, there they are – hundreds of mannequins inside a large spacious showroom, decked in all things DVF over her incredible career. Vintage wrap dresses, contemporary wrap dresses, special collection/anniversary items, and jumpsuits surround you, treating your eyes to a fashion feast and the ultimate closet.

Mannequins Final

{Wrap dress gallery, first display.}

5 Favorite Looks

{Five of my favorite looks from the collection.}

Of course, it’s not over yet. The exhibition also makes it a point to take a moment to reflect on the woman herself in a section just off the main galleries that is more calm, intimate, and modern in atmosphere. The final gallery finds you enveloped around stark white walls filled with portraits, where legends of the art world take center stage: paintings of DVF by Andy Warhol, photographs of our heroine by Peter Lindbergh and Annie Leibovitz to name a few. There’s such a sense of history to the work that graces the walls in various forms of artistic expression and it’s quite fascinating to see how each artist captures the spirit of the exact same woman in different phases of her life.

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{Andy Warhol, Diane von Furstenberg, 1974.}

While the exhibition celebrates the “Journey of a Dress,” it’s really also a salute to a woman who somehow managed to one-up herself. What might have been thought to be the end of the fairy tale once the princess leaves her prince, turns into a testament of how the (now former) princess did even better. She built an empire estimated at $1.2 billion, eventually found a new prince, and re-wrote her fairy tale.

It’s quite inspiring to see, experience, and celebrate DVF’s achievements up-close and personal through the Journey of a Dress exhibition. And though the perks were likely nice, it’s also beyond inspiring to see what a strong-willed, confident, and creative woman can do when she’s no longer a just a princess, but a woman with a vision. It’s almost as if the show is really about the “Journey of an Icon.”

The exhibition runs until May 1st.

It’s art. It’s fashion. It’s vibrant, feminine, inspiring, refreshing, and just plain fun.

It’s one hell of a party. Make sure you RSVP.


Wrap Dress Showroom


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showroom1

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The DVF Art Salon


 

Art Salon Gallery

{Interior. DVF art salon.}

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{Andy Warhol, Diane von Furstenberg, 1973.}

ashonlinen

{Zhang Huan, Diane, 2011.}

DVFBarry

{Annie Leibovitz, Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg, ca. 1990.}

DVF2005

{Peter Lindbergh, Diane, 2009.}


Signing Off


Blend me and book

{Signing off, but not before signing the guest book. Good times!}


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The Power of Photography

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 Where: The Annenberg Space for Photography

Location: 2000 Avenue of the Stars, Century City

Every time I step into the courtyard of the Annenberg Space for Photography, I look up at these two massive buildings that form a cocoon around me and somehow forget the hustle and bustle of Santa Monica Boulevard just beyond. This is quite ironic given that this same courtyard is shared with other prominent businesses, namely Creative Artists Agency, likely making it quite the opposite of experiences Monday through Friday as talent agents wheel and deal on their next big project. However, on the weekends, most of the activity is to your far right at what has become one of my favorite (and free!) ways to spend a weekend afternoon, checking out the latest photography exhibition at “The Space.”

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{Exterior, The Annenberg Space for Photography.}

I’ve seen a handful of exhibitions at The Annenberg Space for Photography over the last 3 years since discovering this gem among the massive buildings, ranging in visual commentary, genre, and tone. Themes span from topics such as the social connotations on the culture of beauty, to those who helped shape the evolution of rock & roll music, to capturing the risk and devastation of war photography. Without fail, I find each exhibition to be more engaging than the last.

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{A few of the stills shared outside the galleries in the courtyard.}

Currently on display at “The Space” is a visual tribute to National Geographic Magazine’s 125th anniversary, known for publishing some the most recognizable and iconic images in history, aptly titled “The Power of Photography.” The Annenberg transforms nearly every single ounce of wall space into a mosaic, sharing over 400 photographs from Nat Geo’s famed collection. With nearly 11.5 million photographs in their archive, narrowing down the selection to put on display would be a challenge for anyone. I applaud how they chose to overcome such a challenge. Alongside the overwhelming print mosaic gracing its walls, the exhibition is expressively curated with 30 large, high-definition, LED screens installed into the walls – showcasing 501 images with stunning clarity, looping every 50 seconds or so.

What is quite magnificent about “The Power of Photography” exhibition is that because the screens are in a constant state of flow, looping through hundreds of images, you could walk the entire length of the show and start fresh or come again on another day – where you are guaranteed a new experience. This sounds pretty amazing in theory, and it is! Unfortunately, I also found it hard to navigate because of this.

This where my one criticism lies with digital exhibitions, particularly, in small spaces. Unlike print stills that invite you to look at the work and move on, multiple graphics in one place is quite the opposite. When the main attraction is on a large screen slowly sifting through images, it can only help but draw crowds of people to stand in front of each screen for long periods of time, creating clusters of people around you that disrupt your interaction with the works of art. If you’ve ever been to the Annenberg, it’s not the biggest of galleries. In fact, this is a complaint that I often have visiting here. It hasn’t deflected me from attending their amazing exhibitions because it still is one of the best curated galleries in town, but is a problem when visiting The Space on the weekends.

As you maneuver though the crowds in an attempt to absorb the photographs, what ultimately redeems itself, despite the cramped experience, is the work of art. You’re instantly struck by the the emotion in many of the images published in National Geographic Magazine throughout the years. I was awed as I took in vast architectural structures, the most eclectic of animals, portraits of people from all over the world, images capturing the conflict in humanity, while highlighting its undeniable beauty. I’ve been inspired to look into getting a National Geographic subscription to keep that awe with me long after the exhibition closes next month.

Unfortunately, due to copyright, photography is not allowed inside “The Space,” but the Huffington Post wrote a great article last fall sharing 15 of the highlights on display.

It’s quite amazing if you think about it. Photography, one of the oldest of visual mediums and artistic expressions, seems to be growing with age. Nearly everyone has a camera on their phone today. Instagram (a personal favorite on mine) now has over 150 million active users. And the blogoshpere continues to share stories using images to enhance their words. The point is that “The Power of Photography” is proving itself to be timeless.

The exhibition runs until Sunday, April 27th.

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Television: Out of the Box

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Where: The Paley Center for Media

Location: 465 North Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills

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If you’re in the area looking for something fun and inexpensive to do on an otherwise uneventful L.A. weekend between now and 2015, take a trip to The Paley Center for Media (after a stop at Sprinkles for a cupcake fix, of course!). They are currently hosting an exhibition highlighting 60 years of Warner Bros. Television. Television: Out of the Box, takes guests outside the confines of your TV screen and into the actual series. Costumes, props, scripts, set re-constructions, photos, and (sorry to say) a pretty mediocre audio tour welcome you as you walk into the mid-sized gallery space.

Enjoy the legendary history of how now famed Warner Bros. Television Studios came to be through a visual journey of its beloved sitcoms, prime-time dramas, and even the first stints of reality based programming. Spend some time analyzing just how small Jennifer Aniston’s waist really is as you look closely at one of her trendy Rachel Green ensembles, smile at the huge collection of staff badges for everyone from George Clooney to Angela Bassett as they solved the medical conundrum of the week at County General Hospital on ER, hang out at Monk’s Diner (minus Jerry and the gang), then sing-a-long karaoke style to some of the most well-known opening credit sequences from your favorite shows.

In West Philadelphia, born and raised…” (Don’t even get me started. This song will be in my head all day!)

In short, it’s an entertaining way to spend an afternoon. The staff was extremely friendly and passionate about all things TV. What most impressed me is how vast the catalog of WB television programming actually is when you take it in collectively. Some of the shows that made my childhood and teen years were thanks to the production arm of Warner Bros. Television. Without them, Family Matters, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Sisters, Gilmore Girls, Living Single, ER (though I gave up a few years on this one before it actually went off the air), Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs among others were staples in my life for many years.

A note about the audio tour: while I know how much work goes into creating any form of media, especially these types of tours, this one is pretty bland, but it is free if you want to check it out to prove me wrong anyway. The equipment that the center uses desperately needs an update, and overall I found the level of the content to be pretty surface and un-engaging.

Otherwise, what a treat! If you make to it to the exhibition between now and 2015, please drop me a line! I’d love to know your thoughts.

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{Rachel Green Costume / Friends 1994-2004.}

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{Cast signed final shooting script / ER 1994-2009.}

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{Lynda Carter Costume / Wonder Woman 1976-1979.}

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{A nod to all things WB Animation. I loved Animaniacs!}

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{And your host (me!) hanging out on the famous Central Perk sofa from Friends.}