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The amazing Hollywood Costumes exhibition at the V&A

January 20, 2013

This exhibition at the V&A really exceeded my expectations. Often when you go to costume exhibitions, they involve, if you’re lucky, 20 film costumes (most of which you have never even heard of!). Not the case at the V&A though, one of my favourite museums in London.

The exhibition is split into 3 huge rooms, each showcasing about 50 costumes, from the Addams Family to Indiana Jones, Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz to Neo from the Matrix…and explores the way costume designers choose specific materials, textures and colours to create a character. The show also looks at how actors, directors and costume designers collaborate to create characters, such as Meryl Streep to create Donna from Mamma Mia or Johnny Depp portraying Jack Sparrow (based on Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards).

The costumes were really well staged, with quotes from costume designers, directors and actors putting them in context. And the whole thing was accompanied by epic movie music.

Here are a few highlights, although you have to see it to believe it!

Below (left to right): Viola D’Alessops wedding dress and Shakespeare from Shakespeare in Love, Elizabeth costumes, a costume from Les Liaisons Dangereuses and (this brought a tear to my eye) two of the beautiful dresses from the Marie Antoinette film by Sofia Coppola.

The Addams Family:

Below: The green dress from Atonement, Rose’s outfit when she boards the Titanic (at the back), Satine from the Moulin Rouge (on the swing), Audrey Hepburn’s opening outfit from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Eliza Doolittle from My Fair Lady (sitting).

Below: Borat, Legally Blonde, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, John Travolta’s famous Saturday Night Fever white suit, the Blues Brothers and Austin Powers

Below: The Bride from Kill Bill, Jack Sparrow, Braveheart, James Bond and Superman above.

One of Elizabeth Taylor’s many Cleopatra costumes…

Fight Club…

Charlie Chaplin…