Monday, 15 October 2012

Visit Hollywood Costume

This eagerly awaited exhibition opens this weekend at the V&A, gathering together over one hundred of the most iconic costumes designed for unforgettable cinema characters. Who is your favourite? I'm sure you can find his/her clothes on display!

Sharon Stone
Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct (1992)
Costume design by Nino Cerruti and Ellen Mirojnick

Costume design is not about beauty but make-believe. Actors have to look the part and it's up to the costume designer to achieve this challenging endeavour  with accuracy and precision. It is a key ingredient which help us to connect with the character and immerse ourselves in a different 'reality'.

"I don't dress movie stars. I dress actors who are playing characters." Ann Roth, Academy Award-winning costume designer

Natalie Portman
Natalie Portman in Black Swan (2010)
Costume design by Amy Westcott

An engaging film can hook our attention to such a degree that we experience very closely the lives of other people, establishing a strong relationship with our favourite characters, as if we really know them. This triggers a complex voyeuristic approach which can be highly intrusive towards famous film stars. 

John Travolta
John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever (1977)
Costume Design by Patrizia Von Brandenstein 

The magic of the silver screen can indeed be overpowering but it also creates bonds in our collective consciousness, we all associate certain characters with particular periods in time such as Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever, played by John Travolta. Others based on authentic life stories can touch us very deeply.

The Last Emperor film
John Lone and Joan Chen in The Last Emperor (1987)
Costume Design by James Acheson

It is heartbreaking to let the life of Pu Yi, the last of the Emperors of China, unfold into decay. What he wears throughout the film illustrates clearly how clothes can transform the way we perceive others. Even uniforms express something despite their ability to fade away the visibility of a distinctive character.  

Judy Garland's shoes in Wizard of Oz
Judy Garland's shoes in Wizard of Oz (1939)
Costume Design by Adrian

This exhibition takes us on a fantastic journey through cinema history, revisiting the most remarkable characters who have captured our imagination. We can definitely establish a direct connection between their clothes and the roles they have played. Costume design is undoubtedly a powerful tool of cinema storytelling! 

Hollywood Costume
Curated by Deborah Nadoolman Landis, Professor Sir Christopher Frayling and Keith Lodwick
20 October 2012 - 27 January 2013
Victoria & Albert Museum

Other related blog posts:
V&A Unveils Hollywood Exhibition
Fashion Designers on Film
Hollywood Icon: Marilyn Monroe
A Close-Up: Audrey Hepburn
Designing 007 - Bond Style