V&A Museum to bring Hollywood costume to London

London’s Victoria & Albert Museum will host an exhibition on Hollywood Costume in Fall 2012, examining the design process and the integral role of clothing in bringing characters and stories to life. Spanning the past century, the exhibit will cover the most iconic characters in Hollywood film history from 1912 – 2012 with 100+ costumes, many of which have never before been publicly displayed. Three distinct sections will explore the scope of costume design and its impact both in communicating a moment in history and helping actors to ‘get into character.’ Deconstruction will focus on the role of historical research and thematic development; Dialogue will explore the “intimate creative collaboration of great filmmakers and their costume designers with four pairs of especially commissioned on-camera interviews,” including actors Robert de Niro and Meryl Streep, and the third and last section, appropriately titled Finale celebrates the famous actors and actresses that made an indelible mark on pop culture, with a series of iconic characters ranging from Bette Davis in The Virgin Queen to Barbara Streisand in Funny Girl.

In cinema as in life, it is worth noting the influence of the on-screen wardrobe in defining the sartorial legacies and public image of many performers’ off-screen style; Marlene Dietrich’s provocative embrace of men’s tailoring following her tuxedo-ed turn in the 1930 film Morocco comes to mind, as well as virtually any film with Marilyn Monroe– the racy, figure-flattering dresses worn by the bombshell only amplified her enduring sex appeal.  Below, a series of roles to be featured in the exhibition.  In the meantime, Stylesight subscribers interested in costume design in current film can check out our Screen Style reports; recent film subjects include Moonrise Kindgom & My Week With Marilyn.

Hollywood Costume, V&A Museum, London, 20 October 2012 – 27 January 2013.  Open 10am to 17:45 daily, see website for further details.


Marlene Dietrich as Amy Jolly in Morocco, 1930
Costume Designer: Travis Banton


Norma Schearer as Marie Antoinette in the 1938 film of the same name
Costume Designer: Adrian


Bette Davis as Queen Elizabeth in The Virgin Queen, 1955
Costume Designer: Charles LeMaire, Mary Wills


Marilyn Monroe as Sugar Kane Kowalczyk in Some Like It Hot, 1959
Costume Designer: Orry-Kelly


Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, 1961
Costume Designer: Hubert de Givenchy


Barbara Streisand as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl, 1968
Costume Designer: Irene Sharaff

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