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'Hollywood Costume': Lasting movie looks

September 02, 2012

London's venerable Victoria & Albert Museum is going Hollywood — Hollywood costume, that is — with an exhibition featuring 130 costumes covering a century of cinema, from the trappings of Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp to the 2011 Oscar-winning costumes of "The Artist."

Opening Oct. 20 and running through Jan. 27, 2013, "Hollywood Costume" was curated over the course of five years by a team helmed by senior guest curator Deborah Nadoolman Landis, David C. Copley chair for the study of costume design at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.

Even a cursory glance at the pieces that will be on display — and the multimedia presentations accompanying them — reveals just how big a deal it is.

"Hollywood Costume" marks the first time many of the garments — including Dorothy Gale's iconic blue-and-white gingham pinafore from "The Wizard of Oz" — have been on public display in the U.K.

The exhibition will include an Orry-Kelly costume worn by Marilyn Monroe, a red Edith Head gown worn by Ginger Rogers, Christian Bale's bat suit, a "working" Capt. Jack Sparrow costume (worn by Johnny Depp in past "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies, it will be pressed back into service for film No. 5) and a white, three-piece suit that costume designer Patrizia Von Brandenstein used to help transform John Travolta into "Saturday Night Fever's" Tony Manero.

The movie industry has long relied on costumes to help tell stories, and with this exhibition, Landis and company return the favor, employing animation (Jessica Rabbit and Shrek make an appearance) and sound (it marks the first time in V&A history a music score has been written to accompany an exhibition).

Hollywood costume aficionados who aren't planning to cross the pond before "Hollywood Costume" ends in January would do well to keep their fingers crossed; efforts are already underway to bring some version of the exhibition to Los Angeles.

"Hollywood Costume"

When: Oct. 20 through Jan. 27, 2013

Where: Victoria & Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL, Britain

Info: http://www.vam.ac.uk

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