Hollywood Costume has arrived!!!!!

Hollywood has arrived in Phoenix!

Oh my goodness! It's here! It's finally here! The Victoria & Albert Museum's incredible exhibition Hollywood Costume has arrived in Phoenix and will be on show at the Phoenix Art Museum through July 6th. So you all will have just over three months to check it out, and if you're anything like me you'll want to go more than once. For more information you can click here. And also read on. Today's blog post is dedicated to this amazing exhibition, which I have been fortunate to have a lengthy relationship with.

It all started a couple years ago now (has it really been that long?) when I found out that the V&A in London was going to be mounting this landmark exhibition. Around that time costume designer, design historian, and V&A guest curator Dr. Deborah Nadoolman Landis came to the Phoenix Art Museum to give a lecture as part of the 2nd Wednesday lecture series for the Arizona Costume Institute. If you missed my post about that event you can check it out here. (That post has links to all of her books, you can also find a review I did of one of them here as well.) The lecture was amazing and I was so excited to both meet Deborah and hear more about the exhibition. I had already been planning to go to London later that year and to see Hollywood Costume while I was there. So this sneak peek got me super excited!

In January 2013 I got to see the show in person. And I was blown away. It's hard for me to fully describe it. By the time I got through it I felt so overwhelmed (in the best way possible). I only got to see it once in London so I was excited that I had Phoenix to look forward to. 

Then, finally, last weekend I was fortunate enough to attend the special preview of Hollywood Costume and Hollywood Red Carpet (the current exhibition in the Ellman Fashion Design Gallery upstairs, you'll want to see them both, click here for more info on HRC). It was a wonderful day and I'll post pictures of the brunch below.

There is no photography allowed in HC, for obvious reasons. There is also no texting or cell phone use inside and no touching. Seriously, they said, "no touching". Is that a thing they actually have to specify? We're in a museum! Some of these pieces are nearly 100 years old. Why would you think it's ok to touch that? *sigh* But yeah, no photos, no cell use, no touching. Those are the rules. Thankfully there are no rules against staring in wonder at these amazing pieces.

Hollywood Costume features film costumes from throughout the past 100 years of Hollywood filmmaking. Everything from Sex (1920) to American Hustle (2013) (costumes worn by Jennifer Lawrence and Christian Bale that weren't in the original show and I think are exclusive to the Phoenix show), Hollywood Costume has it all.

When you first walk in you'll see one of Nicole Kidman's "Satine" costumes from Moulin Rough on a trapeze above you (so be sure to look up). Make sure you stop to watch the film montage that plays outside, it will give you a peek of what's to come. After that you walk through a soundstage door and into a behind the scenes glimpse of all (and I do mean ALL) that goes into designing costumes for film.

The overall message of the exhibition is that there are a multitude of things that costume designers do to create character. There's a huge difference between fashion and costume, and costumes are not just clothing on an actor. The exhibition has great materials and visual/multimedia elements that help explain the intricacies of costume design (which as a designer myself I really appreciated). While you can certainly walk through and just "look" at the costumes you'd be doing a huge disservice to the work done by both the V&A and PAM and you'll miss the point of the whole thing. So make sure you take your time and read the materials that are posted, watch the videos, and really take everything in. Depending on the crowds I would say to plan at least 2 hours to go through, though I could easily spend much longer!

PAM did an excellent job, working with the team from the V&A, at setting up HC in it's current home. While in some ways it lacks some of the scale and grandeur of the London show, it still captures the heart and soul of the exhibition. As Deborah said to me when I spoke with her last Sunday, they managed to create a "mini-London" version of the show. But set up in the Katz wing of PAM it still manages to be quite impressive and not all that "mini". They were able to keep all the main elements, just perhaps in slightly different ways, but the overall integrity of the show remains and visitors to HC at PAM are lucky to have this incredible experience in our town. If you live near Arizona it would be well worth a visit while it's at PAM. I believe this is it's final stop, so here's your chance before it's over for good.

I don't want to say too much about the show, because (to me) it kind of feels like spoiling a good film. But it's amazing and awe inspiring and an absolute must see for any film and/or costume design fan.

But I will share some teasers: Darth Vader, Dorothy, Superman, James Bond (squee! Daniel Craig's tux!), Harry Potter, Neo, Fight Club, Ocean's Eleven, Capt. Jack Sparrow, Sweeney Todd, two Cleopatra's (Elizabeth Taylor and Claudette Colbert), two Marie Antoinette's (Norma Shearer and Kirsten Dunst), and at least two Elizabeth I's (but it might have been 3?). A chance to hear conversations between costume designers and their directors about collaborating on some iconic characters (ex. Tim Burton and Colleen Atwood discussing Sweeney Todd). Listening to Meryl Streep and Robert DeNiro speak about the actor/designer collaboration on some of their most famous roles. Andy Serkis speaking about motion-capture. And so much more! Seriously, there's something for everyone. 

Once you get through the show make sure you check out the awesome gift shop set up specifically for the show (and check out pics of my mini-haul below). And if you really enjoyed the show you should consider purchasing the catalogue book (more info on that here). It's a great book, I bought it when I saw the show in London and it's one of my favorites in my collection.

There are a number of programs coming up in relation to the exhibition so make sure you check out PAM's website linked above and I'll try to blog about some of the ones I'll be attending in the next few weeks.

In the meantime here are a few pics I took from the preview event.


Members of the Phoenix Theatre company performing a medley of film music classics.

Walking the red carpet to see Hollywood Costume!

My haul from the gift shop! (Sorry it's a little blurry.)

Love this t-shirt!

And this one. :)
This book is soooooo good. And super heavy! My arm hurt the next day from carrying it around. I'll try to get a review of it up on here soon.

Day. Made.
Not only did I get to see the exhibition but Deborah signed my copy of her book. :)


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