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V&A Museum depicts history of Hollywood costumes
22
Oct '12
Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) celebrates the most beloved characters in the history of Hollywood and the ‘silver screen’ in an exhibition called ‘'Hollywood Costume', which opens on October 20, 2012 and runs until January 27, 2013.

Costume designers are storytellers, historians, social commentators and anthropologists. Movies are about people, and costume design plays a pivotal role in bringing these people to life. 'Hollywood Costume' illuminates the costume designer’s process in the creation of character from script to screen including the changing social and technological context in which they have worked over the last century.

This ground-breaking exhibition includes over 100 of the most iconic and unforgettable film characters from a century of Hollywood filmmaking, 1912–2012. 'Hollywood Costume' takes us on a three-gallery journey from Charlie Chaplin through the Golden Age of Hollywood to the cutting-edge design for 'Avatar (2009, Costume Designer Mayes C Rubeo, Deborah L Scott) and 'John Carter of Mars' (2012, Costume Designer Mayes C Rubeo): Act 1, Deconstruction, puts us in the shoes of the costume designer and illuminates the process of designing a character from script to screen; Act 2, Dialogue, examines the key collaborative role of the costume designer within the creative team; Act 3, Finale, celebrates the most beloved characters in the history of Hollywood and the ‘silver screen’.

These galleries are filled with cinema costumes that have never left the private and archival collections in California. Most of these clothes have never been publicly displayed and have never been seen beyond the secure walls of the studio archives.

'On every film, the clothes are half the battle in creating the character. I have a great deal of opinion about how my people are presented. We show a great deal by what we put on our bodies.'  Meryl Streep.

Movies are about people. It’s the people, the characters in the stories, who hold our attention and who are of endless fascination to the audience. The people are the emotional core of every movie and it’s their story that moves us. The costume designer must know 'who' a character is before they can design their costume.

Whatever the genre, the designer’s creative process starts with research. This is explored in case studies including 'Fight Club' (Costume Designer Michael Kaplan, 1999) and 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' (Costume Designer Deborah Nadoolman, 1981) and concludes with a dissection of designer Alexandra Byrne’s 'Elizabeth: The Golden Age' (2007) accompanied by a royal court including Bette Davis as 'The Virgin Queen' (Charles LeMaire, Mary Wills, 1955), 'Marie Antoinette' (1938, Costume Designer Adrian), 'Marie Antoinette' (2006, Costume Designer Milena Canonero), 'Dangerous Liaisons' (1988, costume Designer James Acheson), 'Shakespeare in Love' (1998, Costume Designer Sandy Powell).

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