The Hollywood film industry has provided us with many great blockbusters over the years such as Atonement, Spiderman and Saturday Night Fever, to name a few. However, what is sometimes taken for granted is the array of iconic costumes, which have come hand in hand with this.
The ‘Hollywood Costume’ exhibition at the V&A museum features these costumes, from Indiana Jones’ hat and whip to Dorothy’s blue and white chequered dress from the Wizard of Oz. The exhibition boasts over 100 memorable costumes from the past century of Hollywood filmmaking and I took this opportunity to see them up close.
Upon entering the exhibition, I felt as if I was entering a movie theatre. The lights were dim, the walls were covered in black fabric and there in front of me stood a large wall with a projection of a medley of movie clips. The rest of the rooms were also dimly lit in keeping with the movie theatre feel, which was added to by the use of LED screens to display information.
A costume is more than just an item of clothing; they tell their own story and a good costume adds an edge that brings a character to life. This exhibition highlights the costume designer’s process in the creation of a character from script to screen. It not only presents each costume on a mannequin, in some cases with a headshot of the actor/actress who wore the costume, but also gives insight into the designers inner workings and how they came to create the final product.
As I wandered around the rooms, I was engulfed into each movie and would relive significant scenes and memories of watching them. For example, on seeing the leather jacket Arnold Schwarzenegger donned in Terminator, I remembered watching that film way before I should have done, according to the 18 certificate, and the adrenalin rush it gave me.
Personally, my favourite costume was that of Tyler Durden’s from Fight Club. His truly iconic blood red jacket says so much for his self-assured and arrogant character on screen, but seeing it up close seemed to add even more depth to him. It was dirty and well-worn and his character somehow became real; combined with the blue leather trousers and outlandish shirts, it emphasised the sullied but cocky nature of his character.
This exhibition is a must see whether you are fanatical about film or not. It sheds a new light on Hollywood classics and I believe enhances the film experience all together, adding a whole other dimension.