There may not be a single aspect of movie-making that's as important to the craft — or as accessible — as costume design, especially during Oscar season.
"We give little signals through our choices about what's going on in people's minds," said Mark Bridges, Oscar-nominated costume designer for "Phantom Thread."
Every year, the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising brings in costume designs nominated for the Academy Awards. KPCC's John Rabe was there on opening night.
A common thread in all nominees
The five films up for an Academy Award for Best Costume Design in 2018 are: "Beauty and the Beast," "The Shape of Water," "Darkest Hour," "Victoria and Abdul" and "Phantom Thread."
Fashion Institute designer and instructor Nick Verreos pointed out that unlike other years, this year's nominee costumes played an integral part in the film itself. "For these five nominees," the costumes "are almost like a supporting actor."
Victoria and Abdul
"It begins with a closeup of Abdul's sandals, running through India. So the director is giving you not such a subliminal hint of, 'pay attention kids!' Then the next scene is Queen Victoria getting dressed and a closeup of her gowns."
"So now, the director of a second time is really telling the viewer that these costumes will be very important," Verreos said.
The film "Darkest Hour" takes place during World War II in Britain. Verreos says Jacqueline Durran, also nominated for "Beauty and the Beast," did some "amazing" research for this film about Winston Churchill.
"She actually went to Henry, Poole & Company, which is a Savile Row tailor, the same one that Winston Churchill used. She brought over one of the tailors to L.A. to fit Gary Oldman in the fat suit and to get that authenticity."
On top of that, Durran also commissioned the same French jewelry company that made Churchill's chain watch.
Rabe also spoke with Verreos about the importance of costumes in the other nominated films -- "Phantom Thread," "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Shape of Water." To see some of the costumes highlighted in those films, click through the slideshow above.
Character through costumes
Mark Bridges is up for the Best Costume Oscar for "Phantom Thread," starring Daniel Day-Lewis and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. Day-Lewis's character, Reynolds Woodcock, is a neurotic traditionalist at a time when things are rapidly changing.
Bridges told KPCC's John Rabe how he reflected this in his costume design.
"What we worked out with Paul and Daniel is the kind of fabrics like lace and velvets and satins which were really kind of old-fashioned fabrics. He learned his craft at the turn of the century, and I actually think that he was just about going out of vogue at the end of the '50s when things were changing into what we think of as the '60s."
The exhibit is on display through April 7 at FIDM's Downtown LA campus, at 919 S. Grand Avenue.