Article By Mia Galante
The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is a love letter to cinema and every moving part that makes Hollywood’s greatest films so influential. This historic gallery is located in the heart of Los Angeles, and home to some of the most iconic pieces of artistic expression in film history. I was fortunate enough to be able to visit the museum during my first week in Los Angeles and experience the immersive exhibits, ranging from dedications to Star Wars, The Wizard of Oz, Psycho, Black Panther, and many more iconic films. The exhibit that I connected with the most during my visit was Stories of Cinema, which featured a section dedicated to the costuming and styling of some of the most renowned films in pop culture. When famous films consist of A-list actors, writers and directors, costuming and styling is often overlooked. Therefore, to see a gallery in the Stories of Cinema exhibit dedicated to the exemplary work of costume designers behind our favorite films was a very moving experience.
When I first entered the exhibit, the piece that immediately caught my eye was the massive May Queen dress and crown set from Florence Pugh’s performance in the 2019 film Midsommar, adorned with a multitude of silk flowers. Throughout Midsommar, the importance of the role of the May Queen is brought up often and the last shot of the film is Pugh’s character in this extravagant dress. The eeriness of that final shot of Pugh engulfed in the May Queen gown would not have been portrayed as effectively without the vision of costume designer Andrea Flesch.
Photo credits: Mia Galante
On display along with the elaborate May Queen gown was the dress Mabel King wore in The Wiz, the vibrant orange jumpsuit Taron Egerton wore in Rocketman, a late 60s inspired ensemble Brad Pitt wore in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and an emerald dress paired with a red rebozo shawl Salma Hayek wore in Frida.
Photo credits: Mia Galante
Further into the museum, I found the Oscars exhibit, featuring iconic fashion moments from the Academy Awards red carpets. The exhibit featured the dress that Rita Moreno wore to the 2018 Academy Awards which was the same dress Moreno wore to the 1962 Academy Awards with a modern twist. This sleek black gown with gold embellishments replaces the halter top from the original with a strapless neckline. The updated version of Moreno’s 1962 dress also adds a pair of black gloves to complete this contemporary transformation. Along with Rita Moreno’s timeless gown, Cher’s infamous Bob Mackie ensemble from the 1986 Academy Awards was also on display. Throughout her lengthy career, Cher has been no stranger to making a statement with her fashion choices and this show girl inspired set was one of her most talked about red carpet moments. To complete the trio of Oscars red carpet glamor was the gown Laura Dern wore at the 2020 Academy Awards. Similar to Rita Moreno’s gown, Dern took a more understated and elegant approach to her Oscar’s look wearing a light pink with sparkly black tassels across the neckline to add some flair. Laura Dern has always opted for a more classic look on the red carpet so this look matches her style perfectly. Additionally, as someone who is an avid watcher of the Oscars red carpet, I adored this exhibit and loved being able to see the intricate details of these legendary red carpet looks.
In the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, the hard work of fashion and costume designers in Hollywood refuses to go unnoticed. These legendary designs transcended the screen and became even more impressive in person. I found myself circling these exhibits multiple times throughout my visit, finding something new to appreciate about these garments and the designers behind them each time. It was a surreal experience to see pieces that are referenced so heavily in pop culture, such as the May Queen gown and Cher’s Oscars look, up close and personal. I am very grateful that I was able to experience these stunning exhibits and I would recommend The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures to any cinephile in Los Angeles enamored by the fashion in their favorite films.