Written by • Published 13th November 2012


Image Courtesy of janaSLT, flickr. com

Image Courtesy of janaSLT, flickr. com

Ever since the announcement that the V&A were to host some of the most recognisable costumes from films past and present I have been waiting with baited breath for the opening of the Hollywood Costume Exhibition.

Having booked tickets back in February, it was a long wait but last weekend I finally got to visit the exhibition, so was it worth it..?

The exhibition is set up in three parts.

Act One: Deconstruction focuses on building characters through costume highlighting how important it is for costume designers to research into the characters they are dressing and their background. Costumes on display included Scarlett O’Hara’s beautifully made dress from Gone with the Wind which was carefully restored especially for the exhibition, Charlie Chaplin’s tattered suit, the Addams Family costumes (did you know baby Pubert was actually twin girls?!) and the exquisite dresses from Elizabeth, Shakespeare in Love and Marie Antoinette.

Moving into Act Two: Dialogue focuses on the work between the film-maker and the costume designer with a particular focus on how advances in technology have changed the way films are produced and of course how costumes look on screen. From silent films where the costumes tell the story, to the introduction of technicolour and more recently motion capture films produced digitally using blue and green screen technology it was fascinating to see the development of costumes over the generations. I was particularly interested to see that although the 2009 film, Avatar was produced using motion capture and digital technology so the actors did not appear in real form, their costumes were still handmade. The real wow piece for me in this particular section was the beautiful full beaded dress from the 1937 film The Bride Wore Red.

Finally moving into Act Three: Finale, they certainly saved the best until last! The room was filled with some of the most iconic costumes known to date including my ever favourite Holly Golightly, Givenchy dress, Nicole Kidman’s Moulin Rouge ostrich feather tailed corset, James Bond’s infamous tux, superheroes Batman, Spiderman and Superman, Marilyn’s white dress from The Seven Year Itch, Kate Hudson’ stunning Yellow Satin evening gown from How to Lose a Guy in 10 days (I fell in love with this dress in the film so was a little excited to see it in the flesh, Harry Winston jewels included!!)

And FINALLY the showstopper of the exhibition… Dorothy’s Blue gingham dress complete with THE original red ruby slippers! Ok, so they weren’t quite the shiny red they were in the film but come on they are 73 years old!

I was so happy I got to see them as I have been told they are only in the exhibition for a few weeks before they are shipped back to America.

So was worth it…Yes! I do love my films both old and new so I didn’t doubt for a minute whether I would enjoy it or not but I have to say I cannot recommend it enough. Ok so it was a little busy but give it a few weeks whilst the crowds die down and definitely get booked in. Personally, I think it’s the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.