27 January 2013

Hollywood Costume at the V&A

I was not interested in the Hollywood Costume exhibition when I first heard about it but the steady trickle of positive reports, mostly on Twitter, convinced me that it was worth going to but by then it was sold out.

Fresh hopes were dashed and forgotten.

Then another tweet said that a limited number of tickets were available. On my birthday. So I bought some.

These were timed tickets due to the huge popularity of the event and I was scheduled for 11:30 on a Sunday morning. The transport worked well and I was there with enough time to spare to allow a little jaunt through the sculpture galleries before taking my place near the front of the queue.

The layout of the exhibition did not suit timed starts as there were two ways in and that meant two streams of people moving in opposite directions past the first displays. Progress was very slow and good positions were aggressively fought for and defended.

Things got a little better as we moved in and thinned out a little but it was very busy all the way round, good positions had to be waited for and progress was slow. But then I was not in any rush, I had all day for this.

The curation was as good as I expected from the V&A, and that is very good. Each costume came with an explanation of the film, the character and what the designer was trying to achieve. Many of the outfits had digital heads above them to remind us of what they looked like in the films and a few videos took us in to greater depths on the characters and the designs.

The mix of costumes was refreshing too. There were the obvious grand outfits from period dramas but these were a minority. We also had simple outfits for films iconic and unknown and some icon outfits from films good and bad.

If you look carefully in the middle picture you can see Neo (The Matrix), Terminator and The Bride (Kill Bill). And just to make the point, the last three costumes in the exhibition are Judy Garland from The Wizard of Oz, Marilyn Monroe from Seven Year Itch and, finally, Michelle Pfeiffer (Batman Returns).

It was to the V&A's credit (again) that they kept me entranced for approaching two hours on a subject that I thought I did not care about.

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