Frock and Awe: The Hollywood Costume Exhibit

The Academy’s hi-tech take on the closet raid to end all closet raids

I get to see a lot of cool things because of my job (Darth Vader at the LA Phil!), but the Academy’s Hollywood Costume Exhibit has managed to break its way into my Top Ten. Think of just about every amazing movie ever made, what the characters were wearing in it, and there it is at the Wilshire May Company building—the future home of The Hollywood Museum—featured in hi-tech displays. From the iconic suit Charlie Chaplin wore to become the Little Tramp to Marilyn Monroe’s white dress from Some Like It Hot, I read every placard or heard it from the actor’s themselves as they popped up on screens to talk to you about them (the whole thing is very interactive). Opening night drew all the big-time costume designers (Sandy Powell, Julie Weiss, Mark Bridges, Ruth Elaine Carter, Deborah Nadoolman), among others.

I ran into Academy Award-winning make-up artist Rick Baker admiring the costumes from Elizabeth and observed developer Wayne Ratkovich and Councilman Tom LaBonge in convo next to Indiana Jones’s fedora, khakis and whip (which, if you’re wondering, is posed mid-lash). Joshua Jackson and Diane Kruger were whispering to each other around Barbra Streisand’s ensembles (what a wee waist, Babs), and in the Meryl Streep section? Mad Men’s Kieman Shipka. Also spotted: Zoe Saldana, Michelle Monaghan and Loretta Devine. So follow the yellow brick road to this exhibit (it ends with Dorothy’s ruby slippers) and you’ll encounter Neo’s austere suit and trenchcoat, Tony Stark’s cool Iron Man costume, and Mary Poppins’s outfit (complete with bird handle umbrella) along the way. The exhibit runs through March 2.

Photograph by Aaron Poole / A.M.P.A.S.