Featuring Period Movie Costumes
- By Judy Mitchell
On view at the Winterthur Museum in Delaware
until Jan 07, 2007 is an exhibit of 36 costumes from period set movies. The
costumes and accessories were made by Cosprop Ltd often utilizing authentic
cut and construction and even vintage fabric and/or lace inserts.
It is broken into 3 area: Section one shows costumes
about historical figures such as Elizabeth I, Louis XIV, Thomas Jefferson,
and covers the era from the 16th to 19th centuries.
Also included in this section are costumes from Ever After, Dangerous
Liaisons, and movies based on Jane Austen's books.
Section two displays costumes from classic literary
movies set from 1827 to the late 19th century - such as Eugene
Onegin, Portrait of a Lady, The Golden Bowl and more.
Section three progresses into the 20th
century with costumes such as Titanic, Evita, Room With a View, Gosford Park
If you can't make it to this tour, you can get a taste
of it at
http://www.winterthur.org/calendar/fashion_in_film.asp where they
show each outfit and even give an audio clip, presumably from the ipod tour
(we preferred to kibitz amongst ourselves, so I don't really know what the
(Note, in the pictures displayed below. The
standard image behind the thumbnail is already a good size, only
click on the "high rez pic" link if you're on a high-speed hookup and ready
for a half meg image!)
The costumes are wonderfully displayed on risers, with
most of them viewable all the way around. Movie posters decorated the walls
around the room.
In addition to the exquisite costumes, there is also a
hands-on section with some samples of fabrics for fondling (donated to the
Winterthur exhibit by G-street Fabrics) and table with five costume designs
of the exhibit that you can take home and color – they offer a number
templates to rub them on to create 'texture' for the fabrics. Just a bit of
Some of the costumes just blew me away with their
beauty; some, I'm afraid did not (no reflex ion on the craftsmanship, just
some did not impress me).
It was fascinating to see how the “Just Breathe” dress
from Ever After was box-pleated from the empire waistline with 3 panels
alternating gauze, metallic silk, gauze creating an ethereal effect. BTW,
the metallic silk used is pretty much the same type of fabric we've seen
from Thai Silks in the silk lurex fabric. The hem, however is pad stitched.
While it looks lovely white onscreen, it's actually a silver-ivory shade
which makes sense since white doesn't show on film well. For those
wondering how this costume fits into an exhibit of period movies, it is set
in roughly 1510-1518 time frame, they just added wings to the lovely dress.
Swoozie Kurtz's red dress from Dangerous Liaisons
(circa 1760) is one of the main centerpieces of the exhibit, to judge from
it's image everywhere. It is a lovely, rich dress, with all the ruching and
the ribbon rosettes.
As Cosprop likes to use period techniques in their
construction, it was nice to see that the edges of the front edge ruffle and
the hem of the Dangerous Liaisons dresses were simply pinked and left that
way. Just how it would have been done.
|Note the rosettes on the stomacher hide the opening to
Note the layers of lace with the rosettes gives a read of
embroidery. A couple rows of small trim looks like large trim.
|Jewels on gold ribbon. Yet from the distance the
whole thing appears to be golden
It's a shame the dress from Elizabeth wasn't quite as
period accurate, but reports have said that the director wanted more of a
'feel' than strict accuracy. It shows, in the netting of the lower sleeve
and the bustle (luckily not a fancy tucked one, but not a bum roll either)
off the back.
The wedding outfits from Sense & Sensibility (1800)
were just lovely – but then I'm a sucker for bright red and green. It was
fascinating that they used straw or raffia trim on the standing collar and
edging the pelisse. It really gave a good read for antique, burnished gold.
Also interesting, and very period, was noticing that
Miss Bingley's orange dress from Pride & Prejudice (1812-15) was made from
a sari. It was very popular to use Indian fabrics and such for Regency
Ralph Fiennes' costume for Evgeny from Onegin (1830s)
is a study in texturing with black (ok, the shirt is white and the vest is
blue). With the black wool, velvet lapels and buttons, a black tailcoat and
trousers it was interesting to see how it was made distinctive rather than a
dark mass. One thing to pay attention to is the gorgeous quilting on the
black embroidered silk lining of the overcoat.
Evgeny's 1830's Suit
|Detail of vest and buttons
Lee Remick's dress from the Young Europeans (1855) also
had some interesting aspects to it. An 1855 dress, it is basically a white
dress with a layer of black lace fabric on top giving it dimension and
texture. Apparently something must have happened to the original netting on
the neck since it can be seen in the accompanying poster but the current
dress has been slightly reworked for a white lace edge.
|Lace detailing, enhanced. Shear netting over a
I think my favorite might be Nicole Kidman's “Two-piece
evening dress of gold lamé overlaid with black and gold net.“ from Portrait
of a Lady (1876-79). While most of the pictures don't captivate me that
much, the actual dress with it's striped black and gold silk and the
sequined train was just stunning. The layers of netting just gave this piece
such a strong texture and presence. Even the lace appliqué along the hem has
the paisley points cut out along the edge.
Then there was Elizabeth Taylor's outfit from Toscanini
(1880s). Well, I understand opera style is supposed to be gaudy. It was.
Seriously, this dress actually has inserts of purple dyed fake tiger fur!
Just amazing. To say it was “heavily encrusted with beads, sequins, and
large brightly colored stones in gold mounts” I guess about sums it up.
The evening dress from The Golden Bowl (1900), is
actually more of a bisque color than the white it appears. This dress is
apparently a repop: an original dress was in too bad condition – the silk
was fracturing apart. But the lace inserts were reused to make a restored
version. Very nice seeing the vintage lace detailing it. The black and
silver evening dress also used vintage lace inserts.
While the Titanic (1912) orange, chiffon dress, appears
elegant in it's simplicity, (not the Jump Dress) has lovely glass beads
edging the sleeve and neck, and an amazing beaded bodice of silver and
orange concentric circles. That is, the bodice is beaded with orange circles
except for a sort of wide diamond shape in silver beads, and the orange
straps faded to silver over the shoulders.
Melanie Griffith's dinner dress from Shining Through
(1950s) was just stunning. the silk georgette and gauze over crepe de chine
gave a lovely soft feel. This dress is also hand painted with flowers that
vine over the bodice, around the waist and cascade down the left skirt
front; and then it's studded with diamonte beads and sequins. Just lovely.
|Note this is not embroidery, but painted-on flowers
studded with glittering bits that give it a 3-d look. This
close-up shows all the paint color details
Evita's 'New Look' dress (1950s) is shockingly pink.
Deep “pepto” pink. Did I mention it's pink? The dress looked interesting,
but was almost completely hidden by the voluminous overcoat.
The Little Maharaja's costume from Indiana Jones (and
apparently reused in another movie) was an interesting study in richness.
Ok, it's pink – but not nearly as pink as the Evita dress. This is covered
in gold bullion paisley appliqués, ropes of pearls, and assorted jewels.
Basically, if you went to a sari store and got every bit of decoration you
could find and found a way to put it on a young child..... it would look
sort of like this. Mind you, that's a lot of work to put all that on!
The Little Maharaja's costume
|Fabric has wired worked swirls. Most of the
glitter is provided by the heavy multi-stranded jeweled necklaces
||The Little Maharaja's turban necked in dangling beads.
Seriously, it is well worth going to see the stunning
costumes in this exhibit! If you are anywhere near Delaware, try to make it
to the Winterthur Museum before Jan 7. After this, there may only be one
more stop on it's tour – at the Durham Western Heritage Museum, Omaha, NE
from January 25 - March 25, 2007 but check first because Winterthur's press
release claims it is the last stop (maybe it was extended after the release
|Info for the Fashion in Film Exhibit:
Winterthur Museum, Route 52, Delaware
| now until Jan 07, 2007
|Tues - Saturday , 10-5|
|Closed Christmas & Thanksgiving, see their web for the yuletide
|Admission cost: For visitors age 8 and over. Adults, $30, Members,
$15; students/seniors (age 62+), $28; child 8-11, $20.|
|See website for
Fine More reviews, images and more links, especially of the “Just
Breathe” dress from Ever After at
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