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V&A’s “Hollywood Costume” Exhibit

Who would Indiana Jones have been without his wide-brimmed fedora, Scarlett O’Hara without her green velvet curtain dress or Dorothy without her ruby red slippers? Probably much different characters, and “Hollywood Costume,” the Victoria and Albert Museum’s (V&A) latest exhibit (opening October 20), explores the significance of these items and others via a roundup of more than 100 iconic film costumes.

“Costume has played an essential role in filmmaking since the beginning of cinema,” says assistant curator Keith Lodwick. “The costumes don’t happen by accident—the actor doesn’t wear his or her own clothes. Everything the audience sees on the screen has been researched and designed.”

To explain costume’s role in cinema storytelling, the exhibition (sponsored by Harry Winston) is divided into three sections. “Act One: Deconstruction” explores the link between clothing and character identity in films like Fight Club (1999) and The Virgin Queen (1955). “Act Two: Dialogue” examines collaborations among filmmakers, actors and costume designers—like the relationship between Alfred Hitchcock and Edith Head in The Birds (1963) or Martin Scorsese and Sandy Powell in Gangs of New York (2002). The third section, “Act Three: Finale,” gives a nod to Hollywood heroes and femme fatales, including Batman and his high-tech suit from The Dark Knight Rises (2012) and Marilyn Monroe with her white chiffon dress from Some Like It Hot (1959). “Costume designers have helped to define and create characters that are firmly embedded in world popular culture,” Lodwick says. “And this is what will be celebrated.” October 20 through January 27, 2013; Cromwell Rd.; 44-20/7942-2000;


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