Hollywood Costumes at the V and A

They have been using a poster of Dorothy’s gingham dress to advertise the Hollywood Costumes exhitibiton at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Even though I’m not a massive Wizard of Oz fan, that was enough. There is something strangely enticing in the opportunity to see objects that are typically restricted to the big screen. It is hard to articulate the seduction of fame.

I am pleased that the Dorothy costume was the tip of the iceberg. It is unusual that an exhibition blows me away; rare for me to come out wanting to go straight back in.

There are many reasons to go to Hollywood Costumes exhibition if you get a chance in the next few months. The infamous Ruby Slippers are just one. The others include Darth Vader’s suit, Marilyn Monroe’s white dress, Scarlett O’Hara’s curtains, Superman’s lycra, Meryl Streep’s Mamma Mia sequins, the Addam’s Family’s gothic wardrobe, Bond’s black tie, Austin Power’s flares…more iconic outfits than it is possible to envisage AND a new insight into the relationship between clothes and characters. It is funny how much is buried under the things we take for granted.

As well as lots of fabulous displays, the exhibition cleverly broke down the process and importance of costume design, giving me a whole new perspective on something that I had only noticed in passing before. Filmed interviews of the costume designers behind the blockbusters, cleverly projected onto chairs; tables where the design process was brought digitally to life; scripts highlighting the passages from which the outfits emerged. I had overlooked how much thought and effort went into actor’s clothes, and how much this impacted on their ability to play a part.

I guess, on a far smaller scale, the same is true in everyday life.


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