Hollywood Costume (20 October 2012 – 27 January 2013), The Victoria and Albert Museum's (V&A) major autumn exhibition, will gather together over one hundred of the most iconic costumes designed for unforgettable cinema characters over a century of film-making.
For the first time, Hollywood Costume will unite classics from the Golden Age including Dorothy's blue and white gingham pinafore dress designed by Adrian for The Wizard of Oz (1939), Scarlett O'Hara's green 'curtain' dress designed by Walter Plunkett for Gone with the Wind (1939) and the 'little black dress' designed by Hubert De Givenchy for Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), with the latest Hollywood releases including Consolata Boyle's costumes for Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady (2011).
Hollywood Costume will explore the central role of costume design – from the glamorous to the very subtle – as an essential tool of cinema storytelling. It will illuminate the costume designer's creative process from script to screen and reveal the collaborative dialogue that leads to the invention of authentic people in the story.
The exhibition will also examine the changing social and technological context in which costume designers have worked over the last century.
The exhibition is a three-gallery journey from early Charlie Chaplin silent pictures to the motion capture costume design for Avatar (Deborah L. Scott, Mayes C. Rubeo, 2010) and John Carter (Mayes C. Rubeo, 2012).
From Joan Crawford's blue gingham waitress uniform in Mildred Pierce, (Milo Anderson, 1945) to the sensational bugle-beaded ruby gown she wore in The Bride Wore Red, (Adrian, 1937), these costumes are united by their one purpose of serving the story.
Using montages, film clips and projections, the clothes will be placed in their original context, alongside interviews with key Hollywood costume designers, directors and actors talking about the role costume plays in creating a character.
Deborah Nadoolman Landis, Hollywood costume designer and senior guest curator, said: “This landmark exhibition will provide a once in a life-time opportunity to explore the most beloved characters in Hollywood history and gain insight on the role of the costume designer and their vital contribution to cinema storytelling.”
Sir Christopher Frayling, guest curator, said: “The design of costumes for films is a distinctive form of design which is often taken for granted or misunderstood. This V&A exhibition presents the ideal opportunity to set the record straight – and will do so in the most spectacular way.”
The exhibition has involved sourcing, identifying and securing objects from all across the world over the course of five years. The collectors who have loaned to the exhibition range from major motion picture studios, costume houses, public museums and archives and private individuals.
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The Victoria and Albert Museum