Hollywood Costume Exhibit at VMFA

Kate Winslet, Titanic
Titanic (Kate Winslet ),1997, costume designer Deborah L. Scott, ©20th Century Fox/Paramount/The Kobal Collection.
Titanic (Kate Winslet ),1997, costume designer Deborah L. Scott, ©20th Century Fox/Paramount/The Kobal Collection.

She Said:

From the time that I was a little girl and I can remember that watching movies was an emotional experience for me. I love being transported to another place, while at the same time feeling like I understood the characters better than people in the real world. When I first heard about the Hollywood Costume exhibit, I knew that I had to go see it and was counting it down on my mental calendar. I wanted to know if seeing the costumes from some of my favorite movies would produce the same emotional connection. It did! I was absolutely floored by the energy and emotion of all these beloved items currently on display at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Lady in the Dark, 1944, costume designer Edith Head, ©Paramount/The Kobal Collection/Faherty, Paul.
Lady in the Dark, 1944, costume designer Edith Head, ©Paramount/The Kobal Collection/Faherty, Paul.

It’s absolutely stunning to realize that you are standing next to Kate Winslet’s beautiful dress from the boarding scene of Titanic. There were so many times that I almost felt tears spring to my eyes, especially when faced with Audrey Hepburn’s flower girl outfit from My Fair Lady, Judy Garland’s Dorothy dress from The Wizard of Oz and Vivien Leigh’s famous green bonnet from Gone With the Wind.  It’s a beautiful exhibit from the perspective of learning about the techniques used to create these costumes and appreciating the craftsmanship displayed. But, seeing these important bits of history or films that have personally connected with you make this exhibit even more compelling.

We also enjoyed the Made in Hollywood: Photographs from the John Kobal Foundation exhibit, which features 90 prints from 50 different Hollywood photographers. These pictures really show the personality of Hollywood in its heyday. The Buster Keaton clown photo and the photo of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire were two of my favorites! This exhibit contains many fascinating images.

Ruth Harriet Louise (1903-1940) Buster Keaton, MGM, 1929 Gelatin silver print
Ruth Harriet Louise (1903-1940)
Buster Keaton, MGM, 1929
Gelatin silver print

We met up with my best friend and spent an absolutely wonderful day at the VMFA. Of course we saw the Hollywood Costume exhibit first and we were all three enchanted by it. My best friend and I may have even exited the exhibit singing “Defying Gravity” after seeing Margaret Hamilton’s Wicked Witch of the West hat from The Wizard of Oz. Okay, we totally did and that wasn’t the first time that we had broken into song either. The exhibit was so much fun that we had to recharge at a local restaurant and then returned the museum for an afternoon of fun going through their massive Ancient Art collection and of course visiting the Rockefeller bedroom that I adore. We stayed until almost closing time and it was such a fun day!

I love visiting this museum. I enjoyed visiting them last year for the Chihuly exhibit, but this exhibit was stunning too – I couldn’t pick a favorite. If you are looking to inject some exuberance into your winter or even if you are just a movie fan I can’t recommend going to visit the Hollywood Costume exhibit enough. It’s a stunning, emotional, trip through cinematic history that allows you to connect with your favorite characters in a new and more tactile way.

Kari Liked: Seeing so many beautiful costumes in one place and realizing that they are items from some of my favorite movies.

Kari Didn’t Like: That you aren’t able to take photographs. I understand it, but I don’t like it.

My Fair Lady,1964, costume designer Cecil Beaton, ©Warner Bros/The Kobal Collection.
My Fair Lady,1964, costume designer Cecil Beaton, ©Warner Bros/The Kobal Collection.

 

He Said:

Right now the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond is presenting Hollywood Costume. This new exhibit, which they are premiering in the US ( which originated from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London), covers all kinds of costumes from this history of cinema. There was a dizzying array of costumes from the earliest days of movies to the most recent costumes.

It was great to get to see these Hollywood artifacts as art in and of themselves. There were some costumes from movies I would never see that were really great to see and appreciate as fine pieces of work in a vacuum. For the most part they do a great job positioning these costumes so that you can see all the details that you would want to see. That exhibit alone is worth the short trip to Richmond, by car or by train.

John Miehle Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers for “Swing Time,” RKO, 1936/2007 Platinum print from the original negative
John Miehle
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers for “Swing Time,” RKO, 1936/2007
Platinum print from the original negative

The VMFA is also running the complementary exhibit entitled Made in Hollywood: Photographs from the John Kobal Foundation. These 90 photos are really neat to get to see too. I really love seeing old promotional images, so this was a real hoot for me. If you’ve got any more time and are there before January 31, make sure to check their schedule for 60 Films/60 Days and see if the pick of the day is one of your favorites.

In addition to these great exhibits, we wandered around the rest of the museum. We revisited The Rockefeller Room because it is an opulent, beautiful room from New York that reminds us of Downton Abbey, and Kari always talks about being what she wants as a bedroom if we win the lottery. We also discovered a really cool exhibit about Ancient Egypt, which included all kinds of examples of sarcophagi and other artifacts that I just loved. It was a great day trip from the DC area.

Superman, costume designer John Bloomfield, ©Warner Bros/DC Comics/The Kobal Collection.
Superman, costume designer John Bloomfield, ©Warner Bros/DC Comics/The Kobal Collection.

RJ Liked: The hero room that included Indiana Jones, Spiderman, Batman, and Superman.

RJ Didn’t Like: That we couldn’t take pictures

 

 

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is open 365 days a year and is located in Richmond, Virginia. They have lots of events surrounding the Hollywood Costume exhibit including 60 films/ 60 Days in which movies are shown that feature the costumes from the exhibit. The VMFA along with its partners for the Hollywood Costume exhibit are offering a variety of travel and hotel packages, which you can learn more about here.

All images provided courtesy of VMFA

(We were provided with complimentary media tickets 2 both exhibits for this post. However, all opinions are our own.)

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