Hollywood Costume on display at V&A

‘What’s great about costume is it’s the visual representation of the internal side of people. That’s what I love.’ 

Tim Burton

The V&A in South Kensington is due to welcome a special piece of style and film history this month, before those magical heels click together three times and return home to the Smithsonian in Washington. The original ruby slippers which took Judy Garland down the yellow brick road to Oz in 1939 are on loan from the American History museum and will feature in the upcoming Hollywood Costume exhibition at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum. Marking their debut outing beyond the USA, the iconic slippers will also be reunited with Dorothy’s blue and white gingham dress for the first time since the completion of filming in 1938.

This is a rare and exciting opportunity for Londoners to view one of only four pairs of the original ruby slippers, which will appear for a limited time during the exhibition which runs from 20 October until 18 November. The slippers will be replaced by a replica pair for part of the exhibition so that they can return home in time for Thanksgiving. V&A senior guest curator, Deborah Nadoolman, achieved quite the coup on securing the iconic footwear for the exhibition following five years of campaigning and in fact this will be the first time many of the costumes have been on public display.

Alongside the sequinned and satin slippers, the exhibition will host an array of historic cinematic fashion, including Audrey Hepburn’s LBD worn in Breakfast At Tiffany’s, the stunning green gown donned by Keira Knightley for that scene in Atonement and Johnny Depp’s pirate ensemble as Captain Jack Sparrow in The Pirates of the Caribbean. Beloved characters from the Golden Age of Hollywood, from silent movie legend Charlie Chaplin to literary heroine Scarlett O’Hara, and moving forward to the innovative design showcasing the advancements in cinematic technology, case in point Avatar (2009), will all be celebrated in this exclusive showcase.

Divided into three sections, from the role of the costume designer in working to breathe life into the film’s characters to the relationship they forge with the film’s creative team and then onto the costume gallery itself, unveiling the culmination of all the behind-the-scenes preparation; the exhibition will comprise over 100 iconic looks of the unforgettable characters to have featured across the big screen throughout this century, dating from 1912-2012.

To add the appropriate bejewelled frosting to such an exquisite occasion, famed jewellery label Harry Winston – a favoured brand of many a Hollywood proposal scene – will sponsor the exhibition.

Did you know: Dorothy’s shoes were originally silver, but when screenwriter Noel Langley realised they would fade into the yellow brick road, whose colour was sharpened by the advent of technicolour screens, he made an executive decision to make them red. The actual shade was garnet, but thanks to the slippers being covered with red sequins and beads, they appeared crimson under the cinematic lighting.


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