Dressed in Color: The Costumes

This exhibition examines the important aspects of costume design for color films from the 1940s through the 1960s and includes two costumes from “My Fair Lady” (costume designs by Cecil Beaton) and one from “The Great Race” (costume worn by Natalie Wood, costume design by Edith Head). Other highlights include a costume designed by Leah Rhodes for Viveca Lindfors in “The Adventures of Don Juan.” Reproductions of costume design drawings from the holdings of the Academy’s Margaret Herrick Library are also on display.

The evolution of color movies began in the 1920s. After early technological breakthroughs by several pioneering labs, Dr. Herbert Kalmus’s Technicolor company developed the innovative “three-strip color process” in the 1930s. Technicolor, followed by other color processes such as SuperCinecolor, Ansco Color and Eastman Color, helped usher in a series of changes that would affect almost everything about film production.

While bold, vibrant and contrasting hues greatly enhanced and expanded the filmmaker’s storytelling tools, executing color effects properly on the big screen also required adjustments in everything from lighting to shot composition to production design. Costume designers in particular used considerable creativity to overcome challenges like clashing pigments, eye fatigue-inducing shades, and washed-out tones as they explored and exploited new artistic possibilities.

The exhibition is guest-curated by Academy member Dr. Deborah Nadoolman Landis, an Oscar®-nominated costume designer and historian.

Exhibition Information

Through May 2, 2009
In the lobby of the Linwood Dunn Theater
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