Chanel, Gianni Versace and Alexander McQueen are just a few of the designers featured at the “FABULOUS!: 10 Years of FIDM Museum Acquisitions, 2000-2010” at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) Museum and Galleries in downtown Los Angeles.
Showcasing over 200 years of fashion, anyone with a thirst for style or appreciation of the art will bare witness to the iconic wardrobe pieces dating back to the 1800s.
“These are really, really rare objects and they are not displayed very often because they are so delicate,” said Kevin Jones, FIDM Museum curator.
Upon entering the dimly lit gallery, black ceilings dotted with small track lights and matching walls lined with glass-encased artifacts; 38 mannequins are displayed among three seemingly floating silver platforms.
The first of three platforms display an eclectic compilation of styles from the modern era. Soft classical music compliments the cold, contemporary atmosphere. Gowns for every occasion, evening coats, leather pants and even a $1,000 priced rhinestone swimsuit from 1955 are brought together from all around the world. Without question, Paris, Milan, London and New York dominate the scene.
Heading toward the back of the exhibit, the second platform features fashion styles from the 1800s and early 1900s. These mannequins adorned in head to toe couture, defined the fashion silhouette for women in the 1830s with bell-shaped dresses. Most wore bonnets or other head accessories, in addition to detailed broaches, jewelry and gloves.
The third section of the exhibit, hidden from the front of the gallery, is tucked away off to the left in back, featuring more unique 20th century pieces. Featured on a rotating platform is the famous Alexander McQueen evening dress, a cream silk and black lace strapless bodice and full skirt. Other items vary from a 1907 court gown and train to an evening tunic and headdress from 1913, these items reveal more modern fashion concepts for their time.
“This is my only extra day in L.A., so I went online looking for clothing exhibits and found a link to this (exhibit),” said Lisa Brumm, 43, from St. Paul, Minn. “The website featured the Alexander McQueen gown, and I figured if that was one example of what I’d see here, it would be worthwhile.”
Salacious undergarments ornament the walls behind this motif, with brassieres, bust enhancers and men’s “Personality (boxer) Shorts” with the phrase “Everything Grows Big in California” printed on them circa 1950.
All items on display are used for in-class instruction for students at FIDM and also fully illustrated in a 375-page catalog on sale at the museum shop, which is located right outside the exhibit. The catalog, “FABULOUS!,” features other historical fashion pieces not on display at FIDM, and will soon be turned into a textbook.
“The really great part about being in this school is we get access to all of these beautiful costumes and designers,” said Anna Ramirez, 25, a first-year merchandise and marketing major.