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Deborah Nadoolman Landis was on hand to sign copies of her USITT Golden Pen-winning book during the 2009 Annual Conference & Stage Expo. The session about the book was a big draw during the Conference.

Photo/Tom Thatcher

Golden Pen Winner Named New Copley Chair at UCLA

Deborah Nadoolman Landis, an Academy Award–nominated costume designer and scholar, has been named to the newly endowed David C. Copley Chair for the Study of Costume Design at the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television.

USITT’s 2009 Golden Pen award was presented to Ms. Landis, author of Dressed: A Century of Hollywood Costume Design (Harper Collins, 2007). She attended the USITT Annual Conference & Stage Expo in Cincinnati where her activities included a book signing and Conference session.

An unprecedented gift of $6 million to the school from newspaper publisher and philanthropist David C. Copley last June supported the establishment of both the chair and the David C. Copley Center for the Study of Costume Design. The center will enhance scholarship in the field through research, coursework and a program to bring in leading professionals as visiting faculty. Ms. Landis will serve as the founding director of the center, the only one of its kind in the world.

In addition to her distinguished film career, she is an award-winning designer for the theatre and opera and is a noted scholar and author in the field who has lectured and written extensively and published three books.

Ms. Landis received an MFA degree in costume design from UCLA in 1975 and a PhD in the history of design from London's Royal College of Art in 2003.

She recently completed her second term as president of the Costume Designers Guild, Local 892. She has had a distinguished career designing for major motion pictures directed by John Landis, Steven Spielberg, Louis Malle, and Costa-Gavras.

The David C. Copley Center for the Study of Costume Design will work toward three pioneering objectives:

  • Becoming the world leader in the academic study of costume design crossing media boundaries and enhancing the already top-ranked theater costume program at UCLA;
  • Preparing graduates for career and artistic success through a balanced curriculum of theory and practical experience, as well as mentorship from the most accomplished practitioners in the world; and
  • Establishing an approach to unify theory and practice in the area of costume design through the research and study of the cultural significance of costume, its relationship to aesthetic theory and the role of costume as a centerpiece of narrative and storytelling.

As a member of the international film community, Ms. Landis delivered the keynote address at the inaugural Costume Symposium in London in 2006 and served on the 2007 Cinefondation Jury at the 60th anniversary of the Cannes Film Festival. She teaches at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts and the American Film Institute and is a professor at the University of the Arts London.

She wrote Screencraft/Costume Design (2003), 50 Designers/50 Costumes: Concept to Character (2004) and Dressed: A Century of Hollywood Costume. She is preparing Deconstructing Glamour, due out in 2010.

As a costume designer, her many collaborations with her husband, director John Landis, include Animal House (1978), The Blues Brothers (1980), ¡Three Amigos! (1987), and Coming to America (1988), for which she was nominated for an Academy Award, as well as the groundbreaking music video "Michael Jackson's Thriller" (1983). She worked with Steven Spielberg on 1941 (1978) and designed the iconic Indiana Jones adventure Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). Her theatre work includes costumes for the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles and Turandot for the Virginia Opera.

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