by Janel St. John
It was as though my childhood collided with my present! I was totally overwhelmed by the iconic costumes in VMFA’s exhibition, Hollywood Costume. Organized by the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, Hollywood Costume makes its U.S. debut at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. A major coup for Richmond and VMFA, this is the exclusive East Coast venue and one of only four cities in the world, to host the show.
The journey through more than 100 costumes from the silent era to the social media era, includes my all time childhood favorite, The Wizard of Oz, and many others, including, Cleopatra, The Blues Brothers, Shakespeare in Love, Out of Africa, Titanic, Casino Royale, Dreamgirls, and my favorite Sci Fi, The Matrix.
The soundstages, vignettes, projected images, photo stills and videos produce an amazing multi-sensory experience that allows you to explore the collaboration between directors, actors and costume designers that gave life to some of the most unforgettable and beloved screen characters.
Hollywood Costume boasts something for everyone. Kids, of course. But historians, film buffs and fashionistas will revel in the behind-the scenes details of each costume, which are provided on an accompanying plaque. Quotes from the actors and designers tell an intimate story about the process of character creation in movie making. The entire presentation speaks to the enormous hand of Hollywood in creating much of our visual culture. See more images on Part 2.
Lindy Flemming designed the Batman costume above, made of latex, rubber, synthetic fibers, metal, synthetic velvet and PVC and worn by Christian Bale in Dark Knight Rises.
Images: (clockwise from top left) Superman ©Warner Bros/DC Comics. Dark Knight Rises, 2012 ©Warner Bros. Lady in the Dark, 1944 ©Paramount; Funny Girl, 1968. ©Columbia; All images from The Kobal Collection.