Victoria and Albert Museum: Hollywood Costumes

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The Victoria and Albert Museum just so happens to be about a 10 minute walk from my London flat. It also just so happened to have an exhibit devoted solely to Hollywood Costumes of some of the biggest, best, and most memorable movies of all time! So. Naturally, I had to go. Most of the V&A is free admission but some exhibits charge a small entrance fee. Luckily, I am a poor student and can get the student discount (9 pounds but worth it). I bought tickets in advance and it was a good thing too because about 30 minutes after I bought my ticket, the exhibit sold out. I explored the free areas of the museum for a bit and then came back to the Hollywood exhibit. It was fantastic. AND educational. In the beginning there was all this literature explaining what costuming entailed and why it was so necessary to create a good movie. Having been in different plays and working with costume designers I feel like I know a little bit about the importance of design and costumes and what effect they create. I have had to suffer many a time and put on a costume that I would not necessarily wear ever, but it suits my character perfectly. It is this concept of “creating a story” through costume that was prevalent throughout the entire exhibit.

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There must have been hundreds of costumes presented. I saw costumes from movies like Ocean’s 11, Kill Bill, The Queen, Mamma Mia, The Big Lebowski, Harry Potter, Bourne Identity, All the superhero movies, Atonement, Sweeney Todd, and much much more. Every genre was represented, all the Hollywood greats were in attendance (virtually anyway). There was even a whole section devoted to the costumes of Meryl Streep and Robert DeNiro. The rooms were dimly lit and each costumes had soft glowing spotlights on them. Each costume had at least one sign in front of it talking about what movie it was from, who designed it, and sometimes even a quote by either an actor or the designer about the importance of the costume. Some of my favorites included Dorothy’s Costume (ruby slippers included), Rose’s opening outfit from “Titanic,” The “Breakfast at Tiffany” black dress ensemble, Marilyn Monroe’s “7 Year Itch Dress” and the 84 carat diamond necklace from Harry Winston from “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.” This exhibit literally made me “ooh” and “ahh” as I walked through Hollywood history and made a silent prayer to become part of it’s glittery future.

~A

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