exhibition at London’s Victoria & Albert
Museum may well be this season’s blockbuster hit.
Academy Award-nominated costume designer Deborah Nadoolman Landis, whose
credits include films such as Raiders of the Lost Ark and music videos like Michael
Jackson’s Thriller, the Hollywood
Costumes exhibition showcases hundreds of outfits worn in some of the
greatest films ever made,
will immediately feel the magic of the movies as they enter. A blaring
soundtrack – an original score by English composer Julian Scott – pulls you in,
while a montage of iconic Hollywood moments from films such as The Wizard of Oz
and Avatar flash across a huge, floor-to-ceiling screen.
room – or Act One, as it is called – explores the importance of costume to a
film’s storyline, explaining that the seemingly simple cowboy gear in Brokeback
Mountain or the faded jeans and hooded sweatshirt worn by Matt Damon in The Bourne
Identity required as much thought and are as integral to the plot as the beading
and rich elaborate fabrics in period dramas like Shakespeare in Love and
Act Two puts
the collection of outfits -- on loan from film studios and private collectors
worldwide -- in context, through video interviews with actor and actresses. Tippi
Hendren describes how her green suit in Hitchcock’s The Birds helped her get
into character, and legendary star Meryl Streep explains how she insisted her
handbag in Iron Lady be filled with exactly the kind of items Margaret Thatcher
would have carried.
room – or the Grand Finale -- is a collection of iconic costumes to please both
fashion and film fans, such as Audrey Hepburn’s black dress in Breakfast at
Tiffany’s, Sharon Stone’s dress from Basic Instinct, Uma Thurman’s Kill Bill
ensemble and the show-stopping yellow
dress Kate Hudson wore in How To Lose a Man in 10 Days. Pieces of trivia are
interspersed between the costumes: did you know that the ruby red slippers worn
by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz were designed to contrast with the yellow
brick road and show off the new wonders of Technicolor?
When you look
carefully at each costume, they might look different to how they appeared on
the big screen. The fabric on John Travolta’s white suit from Saturday Night
Fever, for example, looks cheap and shiny, while the green dress Keira Knightley
wore in Atonement is not half
as striking up close. You realise that the magic of the movies is just that –
an illusion that transforms the ordinary into something extraordinary purely
for the silver screen.
Costumes will run until 27 January 2013. Tickets can be purchased online.
Dalamal is the London Localite for BBC Travel