Hollywood at the V&A

25/10/2012

It was a huge treat this week to attend a breakfast private view of the astoundingly brilliant Hollywood Costume exhibition at the V&A.

The charismatic Senior Curator Deborah Nadoolman Landis told the assembled group that the exhibition comprised 130 costumes, on loan to the museum from 60 different lenders, which is a huge number and presents a logistical nightmare for the team to pull off. But pull it off they have, and with great style.

Ms. Nadoolman Landis is a charming and warmly steely person who invited guests to “come up and bother me” with questions as they walked the exhibition space, and true to her word she could not have been more generous with her time. I can well imagine lenders being both inspired to contribute their prized possessions to the show, and utterly in fear of saying no to this formidable and engaging lady.

Visually this exhibition is one of the best produced I’ve ever seen. Projection screens bring the old two dimensional captions to life, and video interviews with such luminaries as Merryl Streep and Robert De Niro bring the costume and its context within the movies to the fore. The exhibition explores the relationship between costume and character as well as the technical skill and unbelievable attention to detail of the costume designer.

The objects themselves will resonate profoundly with all-comers, whether they adore Audrey Hepburn’s Givenchy Little Black Dress from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Darth Vader’s terrifying polished black armour from Star Wars or more currently a Tom Ford dinner suit made for Daniel Craig’s Bond in Casino Royale. One can scarcely believe how tiny Natalie Portman’s tutu from Black Swan is, and the final exhibit in the show, several million dollars worth of dress worn by Marilyn Monroe, is an absolutely perfect high note to end on, appearing as it does alongside the ruby slippers worn by Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.

For the V&A, this is an absolute triumph. I urge you to book tickets whilst you still can as the show has broken all the pre-sale ticket records and is sure to be an enormous hit.

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