Where? You can find the most iconic costumes on display at the Victoria&Albert Museum “Hollywood Costume” in London until the 27th of January.
You can’t say it’s cheap going there, but it’s definitely worth all the money you are paying for it, and even the money you (surely) are going to spend on the catalogue as soon as you come out of the exhibition! And besides, it took them 5 years to bring this exhibition to life!!
I just can’t explain the emotions I went through looking at all these costumes so closely you can see the stitches. The exhibition itself is very well curated (may it be cause Deborah Nadoolman Landis is a costume designer hersef?): it starts with a huge screen showing all the costumes on display in their very best moments in their corresponding films, a striking background music spreading around.
Around the corner, a designated path starts with the iconic and magnificent Marlene Dietrich embroidered golden dress from the film Angel, going on to the most famous Charlie Chaplin shredded suit, and the curtain green dress made by Rossella in Gone With The Wind.
It then goes on with amazing Marie Antoniette’s gowns, Barry Lindon, Elizabeth and the most amazing Guinevere wedding dress with spiderwebs knitting and bleached pumpkin seeds embroidery.
And that is only the first room of the exhibition. In the second room the focus is on the relationship between the director and the costume designer: I absolutely love that part cause it’s really true and it shows how much the designer’s skills are worth in bringing into life the director’s ideas, and how extremely vital team work is.
The way it is organized is really clever: the screens with the interviewed people are in chairs shape, and they’re on the two opposite sides of a table. The costume designer on one side, the director on the other one, they talk about their job and their thoughts about each other’s role, and on the table in the middle you can see the images of what they’re talking about. It’s pure magic, I think I’ve spent three hours in that exhibition, because I watched all of the interviews and read all the labels and watched everything twice!
The first thing the curator of Hollywood Costumes would say is that it is not an exhibition about costumes, but about characters. That sums it up I think, when we’re talking about clothes we’re not talking about going shopping and buying a stupid dress that fits, but we’re talking about building a wardrobe that must have an history, and it must be that specific character history.
The last room, i.e. “The grande finale” is an array of the most famous costumes you’ve always wanted to see since you were a child. And when I say it I mean it: there’s this amazing dress you see on Rose at the first scenes of Titanic, Jack Sparrow’s thousands of layers, Audrey Hepburn little black dress, Kill Bill’s yellow tracksuit, the Blues Brothers, the most famous Marilyn Monroe white dress (you’ll be amazed about how tiny it is!)… and be sure to have a look on both of your sides, on top of your head and further, cause in this room there are characters hidden everywhere!
If you’re just a bit curious now after this article, please please please go: you won’t regret it, I promise! We need more people aknowledging what’s behind a character t-shirt: it’s a huge amount of work by this tiny little brilliant person, that is the costume designer!
I leave you with a sneak peak of the amazing catalogue, which I’d rather call a proper book about costume design indeed; the 25 £ best spent in my life!
(sketches from Moulin Rouge)
(Tyler Durden from Fight Club sketched by a very talented Michael Kaplan)
(No Country for Old Men: Anton character is pure genius, dressed in the darker palette possible: dark blue, dark brown, black and scary pointy camperos boots.)
(the amazing relationship between Tim Burton and Colleen Atwood: I’m a big Atwood’s fan, I even had a fan page on facebook, but it has been closed cause now there’s an official Colleen Atwood page.. -_-)
Pictures from www and catalogue’s pictures by me.