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FIDM Museum Highlights Costume Work for TV

By Eric Richardson
Published: Monday, July 28, 2008, at 06:10PM
Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Costumes from the CBS miniseries Comanche Moon, designed by Van Broughton Ramsey.

When "The Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design" opens tomorrow at the FIDM Museum, visitors will get the chance to take a peek at work that spans five decades of TV history.

The show is co-presented with the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, and includes an emphasis on work nominated for the 2008 Primetime Emmys. Nominated costumes are featured from the miniseries "John Adams" and "Comanche Moon", as well as shows "Mad Men" and "Pushing Daisies."

Founded in 1978, the FIDM Museum is located on the campus of the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, at 9th and Grand. It's a 10,000 square foot space, and hosts two or three exhibitions per year.

This is the third year for the annual show honoring television costume design, and the third curated by Mary Rose, President of the Costume Designers Guild. Standing next to the displays for HBO's "John Adams" and CBS' "Comanche Moon" today during a media preview, Rose said that she feels the exhibit shows how the quality of television costuming has caught up with that of the movies. "It's not only film that does excellent period costume." She noted that the designers were able to do this even "with less budget, with less time, with more work for them, under worse conditions."

Van Broughton Ramsey was the Costume Designer on "Comanche Moon," a prequel to the 1989 miniseries "Lonesome Dove." He supervised the creation of 500 pieces for the series, including three changes of clothes for the men and twenty for each of the women. "What I'm happy with is that they really are period costumes," he said today. "They have all the undergarments, the corsets, the petticoats, the panelings, everything that goes with it. If you don't do that, you get that kind of 'Gunsmoke' look where the women all look like they have on bras and stuff instead of the mono-bosom."

The realism made for a long process. "We had twenty people sewing twenty-four hours a day. Different shifts would come in and sew," Ramsey said. "There's twenty-two yards of fabric in one dress. Just to do a hem on it takes a good day."

The show isn't just about period pieces. A collection titled "Television's Golden Era and Beyond" highlights work ranging from "The Carol Burnett Show" to "The Zany Adventures of Robin Hood." More modern work includes selections from shows "Dirty Sexy Money," "Lost," and "Scrubs."

It's quite a range from period pieces to the island wardrobe of "Lost," but Rose wants to show that both are important parts of costume design. "People might look at that and think, 'What's that? It's just a bunch of dirty clothes.,' but to get that dirty you have to do a lot of work, and that's part of our job as well."

"The Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design" / FIDM Museum / 919 S. Grand / July 29th - September 28th / Open Tuesday - Sunday, 10am - 4pm

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