The Hollywood Costume exhibition at the V&A has been running since October and has received outstanding reviews across the board. We went to check it out, were mesmerised by the whole thing and are recommending you, no, telling you to go too!
You might imagine the exhibition to be a room full of mannequins dressed in costumes that you vaguely recognise from films. You might also presume it is fashion focused and only of interest to those who have a keen interest in the field.
On the contrary, Hollywood Costume provides a unique insight into the world of film in an interactive and innovative way. Often overlooked, the art of creating costume is an integral part of the success of any film. The clothes worn by characters must be convincing and relate to the personalities of those who wear them, crucially making it easy for audiences to find something in common with the character – even a villain. As curator Michael Landis puts it “The best costume design is invisible…to make you believe in the character, not look at the clothes”.
Alongside the green gown worn by Keira Knightley in Atonement, Harry Potter, Jack Sparrow and Charlie Chaplin, are film clips, moving moodboards and screened interviews between famous directors, actors and costume designers as they explain the importance of getting costume just right. The illuminated, life-sized screens opposite one another make it feel as though Meryl Streep, Tim Burton, and so on, are in room with you. In the background a film-like soundtrack, written especially by composer Julian Scott, transports you through the exhibition.
In this ground-breaking exhibition, over 130 iconic costumes are displayed, from the extravagant Queen Elizabeth dresses worn by Bette David, Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett, to the renowned ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz, to a non-descript outfit of Matt Damon in the Bourne trilogy. Plain attire like this has to be just as carefully put together as a glamorous ensemble – in this case the audience are further engaged with the narrative as they work to keep up with recognising Bourne and his plain clothes in the midst of a crowd.
The exhibition runs until 27 January at the V&A; come and stay at our hotel near Kensington and we can arrange your exhibition tickets for you. Flemings Mayfair Hotel is perfectly located for you to spend some time at the best exhibitions in Kensington and central London!
Where: V&A Museum, SW7 2RL
Tube: South Kensington
Top tip: Book your entry time in advance