3 December 2012

Hollywood Costume at the V&A

I recently went to the Hollywood Costume exhibition at the V&A and I feel it's my duty to recommend it to all of you. It was actually much better than I thought as there was so much more than just the costumes to keep you engaged. After seeing the show I swiftly ordered the accompanying book from Amazon so that I could relive it from the comfort of my sofa. 

The exhibition had a lot of the original illustrations for the outfits which fascinated me. I loved seeing how somebody's idea translates into real-life costumes. This dress worn by Vivien Leigh in 'Gone with the Wind' captured my eye in particular. I don't particularly like the dress but I love the film and I love how closely the actual costume follows the designer's vision. 

I did a little illustrating of my own when I got home. I remember the days where I used to take a sketch book to the gallery and sit on the floor while I drew. There was literally no chance of doing this at Hollywood Costume. I loved the show but it was tedious snaking around behind slow readers. My friend and I jumped the queue quite a lot and we probably didn't take in as much as we would have had it been a bit quieter. Saying that, we still loved it. 

Nicole Kidman's Moulin Rouge outfit was great in the flesh. A real sparkwing diamond! Keira's Atonement gown was one that I had been looking forward to seeing as it is just so beautiful. Up close it looked extremely delicate and highlighted just how tiny Keira is. One of my favourite activities whilst wandering around the clothes was seeing how big (or little) actors are. Marilyn Monroe's Seven Year Itch dress was ridunculous! The boobs were HUGE and the waist was TINY. I literally had no idea her waist was that tiny. 

Natalie Portman's Black Swan dress is one which shocked me by how small it was. I know she lost a lot of weight in preparation for the film but the dress looked like a child's play dress. Seriously tiny. It was beautiful though. So intricate, it must have taken ages to make.  

There was a bit too much space taken up by Indiana Jones for my liking. I'm not that enthralled with his outfit, I think it's a bit dull. However, I had to show you the illustration for the outfit as it made me laugh so much. Seriously! 

One aspect of costume design that I found really interesting was the challenges designing for black & white film. In order to give the characters an identity it was important to use intricate detailing and texture on their clothes. Sequins, jewels, velvets and silks helped to create depth and interest to costumes.  

I probably spent the most time reading about the outfits in Brokeback Mountain. The attention to detail in that film is amazing. The two boys have different hats because they come from different cowboy backgrounds. Certain cowboys only wear Levi's and not Wrangler and vice versa. I kind of wish I had written down the details as it was so interesting and I can't remember them all in detail.

So excited to see Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman outfit. I wish it hadn't been up quite so high as I could barley see it properly. It was so hidden actually that I nearly missed it. I would have been super annoyed had I not spotted it perched on it's ledge. 

OK they aren't the real deal but they are an exact replica. The real ones were on show in the exhibition but, as you weren't allowed photies, I can't show you them. They were very faded but there was something magical about them. Actually more magical than these sparkly numbers. 

I seriously recommend this show to everyone. It was so interesting. There are bout 130 costumes to look at and there is bound to be one that will make you smile. I had several big smile moments. I think my favourite were the Marilyn dresses (Some Like It Hot and The Seven Year Itch). They bought her to life for me.

Book your ticket now


  1. Looks amazing! Catwoman is a style genius - thank goodness you spotted the mask.

  2. It was amazing! Me and Jo had a great time. See if you lived in London with us you could come do all the fun things!!xx