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The David C. Copley Center for the Study of Costume Design

"Through bold research and a robust program of conferences, exhibitions and film festivals, the Copley Center serves the UCLA community, international motion picture historians, cultural anthropologists and working designers and filmmakers."
— Founding Director Deborah Nadoolman Landis, Ph.D.

Endowed in 2009 by a gift from newspaper publisher and philanthropist David C. Cop­ley, with Oscar-nominated costume designer, author and Distinguished Professor Deborah Nadoolman Landis as founding director, the David C. Copley Center for the Study of Costume Design at UCLA is the first institution of its kind worldwide. Through bold research and a robust program of publishing, exhibitions and teaching, the scholarly activities of the Copley Center serves UCLA TFT students, the university, the international community of historians, filmmakers and professional costume designers. The Center provides a home for the study of costume design history, genre research, costume illustration as an art form, and the influence of costume design on fashion and popular culture.

A Costume History Archive

Many film scholars have analyzed early motion pictures from the late 19th century through the Golden Age of Hollywood, but the Copley Center spearheads costume design scholarship in Hollywood history up to the present day. This includes gathering the oral histories of creative collaborators involved in current motion picture production.

Genre Research

Throughout the 20th century, definitive motion picture genres emerged including the Western, film noir, science fiction and the musical. Each has its own cinematic language and normative practices and each has developed a stylish culture of costume design worthy of study.

Costume Illustration as an Art Form

The sketches and illustrations that are a product of the costume design process have never been catalogued or researched as a field, but simply held as the work of one designer. These long-neglected drawings and their many unheralded illustrators are a rich source for academic and artistic study.

Costume Design’s Influence on Fashion and Culture

Motion pictures serve as a point of departure for fashionable trends and icons. Scholars may track costume influences geographically and chronologically from a film’s worldwide release.

Annual Academy Costume Designer Panel

On the eve of the 2023 Academy Awards, Professor Landis will welcome a stellar group of international costume designers to the 13th annual Sketch to Screen Costume Design Panel and Celebration for an in-depth discussion of the pivotal role played by clothing in screen storytelling.

Black Dress & Culture Series

The Black Dress & Culture Series annual colloquiums explore the critical topic of Black dress. This series engages scholars and practitioners in conversations that reinsert Black people into cultural narratives. Their discussions will address and expand on the multiple viewpoints within ongoing and sometimes contentious histories and contemporary practices. The inaugural event, “Debating the Black Body in Fashion and On Screen,” took place in November 2021 and focused on the work of Black costume designers, in conversation with scholars, to address the topic of Black women and body size, as well as respectability politics in dress on screen.


Natasha Rubin
Director of Research
The David C. Copley Center for the Study of Costume Design
Office: 325 E. Melnitz Hall
Email: nrubin (at) tft.ucla.edu
Phone: (310) 825-2184

For information about the undergraduate sequence in costume design, please visit www.tft.ucla.edu/theaterba or email theaterundergrad@tft.ucla.edu.

For information about the Design for Theater and Entertainment Media M.F.A., please visit www.tft.ucla.edu/designmfa or email theatergrad@tft.ucla.edu.