A peek at last year's The Art of the Motion Picture Costume at LA's Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. The 2014 show opened on Feb. 11. (Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)
ACADEMY AWESOME: There are few starrier events in the world beyond the Academy Awards but -- wait, scratch that. The annual giving-out-of-Oscars to-do is le ultimate in shimmery celebrity wowness. The red carpet goes on for the better part of a block, above-the-title stars jet in from around the planet, and seemingly every entertainment reporter in existence stands on Hollywood Boulevard while holding a microphone and waving down actors. And while it is definitely fun to watch, for many a movie lover, getting close to the Oscars seems impossible. Beyond impossible; you basically have to commit to acting, directing, or writing, work for years, and then maybe, maaaaaybe get nominated for an award. If that doesn't happen, chances are slim that you'll be able to scooch your way inside Tinseltown's Dolby Theatre on the big night. But there are ways to enjoy Oscar time around Los Angeles, and one of the nicest, in our clotheshoundian book, is also one of the most free. We speak of the annual costume exhibit at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, which opened, with frippery and fanfare, on Tuesday, Feb. 11.
TOGS AND TRADITION: The 22nd Annual Art of Motion Picture Costume and Design features over 100 costumes from several 2013 movies, including all of the Oscar nominees in Costume Design category. Those include "12 Years a Slave" (costume designer: Patricia Norris), "American Hustle" (costume designer: Michael Wilkinson), "The Grandmaster" (costume designer: William Chang), "The Great Gatsby" (costume designer: Catherine Martin), and "The Invisible Woman" (costume designer: Michael O'Connor). The winner of the previous year's Best Oscar is always displayed, too, so look for "Anna Karenina" in the FIDM gallery. (Jacqueline Durran is the designer.) It's a wonderful way to get close to the clothes actually worn in the films, and admire the details that can be easy to miss on the big screen. And, yes, the show, which runs from Feb. 11 through April 26, Tuesdays through Saturdays, is free to see. Call it one of the sweet bon bons of Oscar time, with a real connection to the nominees. No nomination required to visit the gallery, either.