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Hollywood Costumes at V & A

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by Dhanya Nair (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer living in Hampshire. I write because there is so much to say. Please visit my blog: to know more about me
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New Blockbuster: Hollywood Costumes
Wizard of Oz

Imagine Captain Jack Sparrow without his red bandana, dreadlocks and the signature tricorne hat? Or Indiana Jones without his tall-crowned, wide-brimmed fedora hat? It's really hard to, isn't it? On the other hand, an Ivory white dress from The Seven Year Itch made Marilyn Monroe a world-renowned icon. Clothes are our second skin and in films, costumes define a character. South Kensington's V&A Museum is currently celebrating some of the most glamorous gears that we've seen throughout the years.

Captain Jack Sparrow
Walt Disney Studios Distribution

Clothes are never a frivolity, they always mean something," said James Laver, first Keeper of the V&A Theatre Collections and this exhibition aims to tell the story of these symbolic costumes and their designers. The exhibition has an impressive collection that spans the history of films.

The incredible haul covers everything from Charlie Chaplin's bowler hat and baggy trousers to the ruby slippers worn by Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz to the Bat Suit worn by Christian Bale in The Dark Knight Rises. Hollywood legends like Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro have also lent from their personal collection.

Despite its brilliant line up, the display is not just a voyeuristic exercise to gawp as V&A has judiciously tried to inject some depth to it. The exhibition consciously aims to teach how each costume has been envisaged and designed to define a character. A costume channelises a character and transforms them from a figment of imagination to a multi-dimensional person. As Academy Award-winning costume designer Ann Roth has said, "I don't dress movie stars, I dress actors who are playing characters."

Kill Bill
Miramax Films

Whether it's Rose's elegant pin stripe suit from Titanic or the Bride's yellow body suit from Kill Bill, costumes have their own unique story. A good one ignites high street copies, change the way we dress and become part of our cultural iconography.

Walking through the display is a great way to re-kindle your cinematic romance and learn the story behind your favourite Hollywood costume.
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Why? To learn about the stories behind Hollywood Costumes
When: Till 27 January 2013, Daily 10.0017.30
Phone: (0)20 7942 2211
Where: Victoria & Albert Museum, South Kensington
Cost: 15.50 for adults, 9.00 for students and children
Your Comment
This sounds amazing, I wish I could see it. What a great article.
by Shannon Meyerkort (score: 3|1792) 2289 days ago
Thanks so much Shannon. It indeed is a great exhibit which brings out the stories behind each iconic costume really alive.
by Dhanya Nair (score: 1|26) 2289 days ago
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