Dressing a Galaxy: The Costumes of Star Wars - FIDM - October 9, 2005

The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in downtown Los Angeles is currently hosting an exhibit entitled "Dressing a Galaxy: The Costumes of Star Wars". The exhibit opened on September 12, 2005 and runs through December 10, 2005. A mailer describes the exhibit as follows:

For the first time ever, the public will get close-up on 100 costumes, sketches, accessories, and props from all six films in the Star Wars Saga. This one-of-a-kind exhibition, highlighting the work of Costume Designer Trisha Biggar, is hosted by the FIDM Museum and Galleries.

I had found out about this exhibit from seeing an ad in a magazine, and I knew that this was definitely something I needed to attend. I've particularly loved the costumes in the new trilogy, so I was excited at the chance to see some of them in person.

Timed tickets are required for admission to the exhibit, and while there is no admission fee per se, they do charge a handling fee - $5 per ticket if you make your reservation online, $8 per ticket if you make a reservation over the phone, and $7 per ticket for walk-up. Walk-up tickets may not be available for all time slots. Children under the age of 3 are admitted free, and children under the age of 16 must be accompanied at all times by a responsible adult. We decided to get tickets for 12:30pm on a Sunday, and with the online reservation, you print your own ticket at home.

We parked on the street a couple blocks away, mindful of various parking restrictions. Friends told us later that the building itself actually has underground parking for a minimal fee, so we probably would have used that if we'd known ahead of time.


A poster advertising the exhibit.


The artwork for these posters are also available on souvenir t-shirts.


We met up with friends who would also be attending the exhibit. Our time wasn't quite up yet, so we wandered around a bit. There was a small souvenir stand with a few of the items that are available for sale in the bigger store inside. There was also a full-size x-wing on display. As we made our way to the main entrance, we noticed that many people dressed in various Star Wars costumes were milling about.


The full-size x-wing.


Of course, R2D2 is the co-pilot.


The plaque in front of the x-wing.


When our time came up, we showed our tickets to an employee, who scanned the ticket, and we went inside the building.


The sign next to the entrance door.


Just to the right is the Museum Shop, which had a few Star Wars-related items along with an array of other things. We browsed in there briefly, but we had seen from the outside that the larger Star Wars store was at the end of the exhibit. I did, however, see one thing on display that definitely caught my attention. On a podium rested a book with the same name as the exhibit and inside were amazing pictures and information about the costumes. As I flipped through the pages, I became more convinced that this would need to come home with me, something I was constantly reminded about as copies of the book were available for browsing throughout the exhibit.

On the other side of the building entrance was the entrance to the exhibit, and some very familiar figures were placed right at the entrance. They again scanned our passes, and we were told that there were no in-and-out privileges with the ticket. Once you're done, you cannot go back in.


The true heroes of the saga.


At the entrance of the exhibit.


The entrance was a sort of archway, beyond which were the first set of costumes. There were several rooms of costumes, with each room built around a particular theme. Some of our group split up as we each took our time stopping and looking at different things. In addition to costumes, they also had alien masks and lightsabre handles. Each room had a museum employee monitoring the visitors, and if you got too close to the exhibits, they would instruct you to move back. Each exhibit was also equipped with a security device so that if you got too close, an alarm would sound. They took great care to make sure that the costumes would not be ruined, as well they should. The costumes and detail were exquisite, and you would almost unconsciously reach out to touch the fabric because the textures were so varied and interesting that you wanted to know what it felt like. I found myself periodically moving closer to the exhibits to the point where I started walking around the exhibits with my hands behind my back to make sure I didn't inadvertently reach out to touch the costumes. They must have known that this was a normal inclination, as they had one part of the exhibit where fabrics were mounted on the wall, next to pictures of the costume where the fabric was used, and you could actually touch these fabrics. But it didn't lessen the desire to want to touch the actual costumes themselves.


The entrance of the exhibit.


Costumes for Luke, Leia and Han.


Obi-Wan's costume.


Hoth costumes.


On the wall at the end of the first room.


Some alien masks in the next room.


Fabrics you can actually touch later in the exhibit.


We made our way through the exhibit the first time, basically just taking in the scope of what was on display. After we got to the end, we backtracked a bit at a time, eventually making our way back to the first room. This time, we took a little longer to examine each costume and to read the identifying cards that were in front of each costume. I probably spent the most time in the villains room and the room with the majority of Padme's dresses.


Younglings with a teacher.


Little Anakin's podracing helmet.


Costumes for Qui-Gon and Little Anakin.


As an adult, Anakin's costume becomes quite different.


In a transition area between two rooms, you are heading into space at lightspeed.


Darth Maul greets you as you enter the villains room.


Chancellor Palpatine and an aide.


One of the Chancellor's guards.


Emperor Palpatine.


An Imperial guard.


The wicked Emperor.


Darth Vader himself.


As we made our way through the exhibit, there were many other people in attendance as well, and everyone was taking turns taking pictures of the various costumes. About half the people were dressed in Star Wars costumes, some more recognizable than others.


The Neimodians.


Other members of the Senate.


Wouldn't want to run into them in a dark alley.


Mon Mothma's costume on the left.


Costumes for, respectively, Katie, George and Amanda Lucas.


Another opera-goer.


My only disappointment was that my favorite of Padme's dresses, the multicolored chiffon dress she wears at her lake retreat upon her return to Naboo while Anakin serves as her protector, was not available to see at the exhibit.


The costume in the middle is Padme's, disguised as a pilot at the beginning of Episode 2.


Padme's pregnant dress is on the right.


Padme's battle outfit, before it's torn, is in the middle.


Padme's throne room outfit with handmaidens by her side.


As with many of the other dresses, the detail is amazing.


The detail on the back of the handmaiden costume's cloak.


The Alderaan contingent, with Bail Organa's costume second from the left.


Wookies ready for battle. Of course, Chewbacca is on the right.


One thing that I had a slight problem with, particularly when it came to Padme's dresses, was recognizing where the costume fit into the saga. Many of the costumes were draped over generic mannequins, not being worn by well-known actors, so at times, I had to really dig into my brain to place certain costumes. While the dresses themselves were beautiful in and of themselves, having them worn by someone like Natalie Portman really brought out even more of their beauty.














While we were in the exhibition, we heard from one of the people working there that Ray Park, who portrayed Darth Maul in Episode 1, was in the next room and even giving lightsabre handling lessons to some people.


Ray Park and a lightsabre-wielding fan.


Jango Fett.


Boba Fett.




A Tusken Raider family.


Dad is not happy.


We took a total of about an hour looking at the costumes. There is no time limit for your visit, so if you want to take longer, you can definitely do that. When we were completely done, we went into the Star Wars store at the end, and we picked up a few items. At this point, I had definitely decided to buy the exhibit book - so I was extremely disappointed when we got to the front of the cash register line to be told that they were sold out, with no indication on the display that they had no more available. They said the book could be ordered online, and they expected another shipment in the store in about 2 weeks. I thought I had seen the book in the store at the front of the exhibit, so after making our purchases there, we went back to that store. I was concerned that they wouldn't let us in because of the no-in-and-out policy, but they considered the building entrance to be different than the exhibition entrance. I was again disappointed when they also said they were sold out of the book. However, but very lucky circumstance, one of the lead merchandise people happened to walk over, and she ended up finding what was to be their last stock copy. We happily purchased it. In examining the book at home later in the evening, it was well worth the effort and cost.

The exhibition book comes in two editions. There is a version that is just the book itself, which you can see here. The special edition version that we purchased includes an expanded edition of the book as well as other extras, including fabric swatches. You can see that package here.


The display of the special edition version in the Star Wars store at the end of the exhibit


Another book that I found that was incredible was Creating the Worlds of Star Wars. In flipping through the book and finding pictures of the miniature sets of Theed City and the podracing track on Naboo, I knew this was a book I had to add to my collection. You can see the book here. These and other products can be ordered online from the FIDM Museum Store.

While I am a fan of the costumes, I am not particularly knowledgeable about costume making, but I was still fascinated by this exhibit. I would recommend this exhibit to any Star Wars, particularly given the minimal cost to see it.

Here's the link to the exhibition website. From there, you can see a preview of the costumes that are in the exhibition, reserve tickets, and find out more information about FIDM, including directions.


FIDM Museum and Galleries
919 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90015
Monday - Saturday 10am to 8pm; Sunday 11am to 5pm


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