TV Show Costumes from Downton Abbey, American Horror Story & More on Display


Prison uniforms, modern western wear, clothes from various centuries as well as imaginary embellishments – the diversity of time periods and cultures in today’s hit television shows is readily apparent looking at the wardrobes from them. The aristocratic flapper era garb from Downton Abbey posed near the period clothes or more characteristic garb from American Horror Story: Coven, Sleepy Hollow, and The Good Wife demonstrates the breadth of costumes on display on television today.

Those outfits and costumes worn by Piper Chapman, Lady Violet Grantham, Sue Ellen Ewing, Virginia Johnson, John Alden, Walter White and characters from several other shows are featured in the eighth annual “Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design” exhibition. The gallery showing is at the Los Angeles Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) Museum.

The annual exhibition featuring the craftsmanship and creativity, not to mention historical accuracy, shown by costume designers and supervisors from TV is usually tied to the Primetime Emmy nomination announcements and ceremony. However, this year’s exhibit only features clothing from a couple of the nominated shows and will continue for another month after the awards are presented. That said, the exhibit choices display more variety of styles and eras than the nominations, which put greater emphasis on period and fantasy shows.

The approximately 100 mannequins on display have on the characters’ clothes, jewels, hats and shoes which really show the full visual effect, much more so than was probably seen on the screen. Each television show grouping includes information on which character and actor wore each outfit.

Outfits to check out include the bride gown Beckett donned on Castle, the hipster/hippie attire from Portlandia, the exquisite workmanship and features on the Downton Abbey cast dresses, and the creepy bug details from Salem’s gowns. Contemporary clothes showing subtle differences between characters are shown from Parenthood, Pretty Little Liars, True Detective and The Blacklist. They also show the upscale contemporary wardrobes from The Good Wife (including edgy Kalinda wear and the men’s well-tailored suits) and Dallas.

Besides the aforementioned series and mini-series, the exhibit includes wardrobes from Agents of Shield, Bonnie and Clyde, Breaking Bad, Masters of Sex and Orange is the New Black. There are also costumes from the live telecast of Sound of Music and the remake of The Trip to Bountiful, and more.

This year’s Emmy Awards telecast will be on August 25. However, the Costume Design Emmys will be given during the separate creative arts event on August 16. Downton Abbey and American Horror Story are the nominated shows included in the FIDM museum exhibit. Other nominated series are Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones, Mad Men and Once Upon a Time. Other nominated movies, miniseries or specials include House of Versace, The Normal Heart, Sherlock: His Last Vow and The White Queen.

Free to the public, the display of costumes from American Horror Story, Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey and more TV shows will run through September 20, 2014, at the FIDM Museum in downtown Los Angeles. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

By Dyanne Weiss

Visit to exhibition on August 9, 2014
FIDM Museum & Galleries
Los Angeles Times

2 Responses to "TV Show Costumes from Downton Abbey, American Horror Story & More on Display"

  1. Fred Masquin   August 16, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    Downton Abbey’s costumes are perfection! Wow! I wish I was in LA right now to see them.

  2. Tabitha Farrar   August 14, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    I wish I was closer to LA so I could see this show, I don’t really watch many TV programs, but I did see an episode of Downton Abbey once. I think that the most interesting thing about that series is the costumes, and to try and imagine what it would have been like to wear so many clothes all the time. Also, it highlights the disposability of the clothes that we wear now. Dresses that must have taken a few months to make have been replaced by items that take only a couple of minutes.


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