Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Movie Costumes

My friends and I were planning our next day out and I remembered a leaflet I'd seen about a costume display at Woodhorn Colliery Museum in Northumberland.  One doesn't normally associate such things with a coal mining museum, but I guess they are branching out.  It had to do with textiles, so I figured I would enjoy it.  Lucy, Vivien and I were joined by a former colleague for the day, Ros.  

Its funny how different people are in retirement or even in semi-retirement.  I perceive people as more relaxed of course, but one sees a completely different side that was perhaps always there but hidden.  I found myself telling Ros I wasn't particularly star-struck, my motives for wanting to see this were more about appreciating clothing design and the craftsmanship, not to mention the luxurious fabrics (even if I couldn't touch them).  At some point after reading the titles of some of my best loved films I had to admit that perhaps I was a bit star-struck.  

I think we all were taken with how tiny Helena Bonham Carter was or surprised Hugh Grant wasn't as tall as we expected.  But at some point when the costumes weren't ones I could imagine wearing myself, it wasn't just the textiles but the stars who had worn them, the amazing stories the films told, the number of people who had been taken into another world watching these costumes.  That was a different feeling to the one I had at the beginning.  

On the whole, I prefer the part where I dream of wearing or - even better  - making one of those lovely dresses.  I hope you enjoy the photos.

The Duchess.  I think Vivien has loaned me this film before.  I know I've read the book, which I would highly recommend.  I've long been fascinated by the Devonshire's.  This film is about Georgiana, the wife of the 5th Duke.  She did have a rather amazing and peculiar life.  The 11th Duke married Deborah Mitford, and you know I'm mad about the Mitfords

HamletI can't say I'm particularly a fan of Laurence Olivier, but who hasn't heard of him?  I look at this jacket and see Chanel, with all her pearl necklaces!  

Worn by Lawrence Olivier

It's been years since I saw Room with a View.  Must look that up again.

Worn by Helena Bonhan Carter

The King's Speech.  Helena Bonham Carter gets to wear some of the best clothes!  This dress, worn by HBC as the wife of George VI, was Vivien's favourite of them all.  I must admit I wouldn't mind wearing it either, only I'd make it just below knee-length and shorten the jacket in proportion.  It's the flounce at the neckline and the drape of the jacket collar I love best.

Worn by Helena Bonham Carter

Young Victoria.  Bill bought me a box set with The Queen, Young Victoria and The Kings Speech for Christmas.  He nearly didn't get a word out of me for the next week, I watched them over and over. This film makes me almost like Victoria, but not quite.  Like Elizabeth I, she dealt with a lot before coming to the throne.  She may have been a different woman had Albert not died so young; as it was, she was quite irrational and I can't forget that the Irish famine occurred during her reign.  Still, it's an enjoyable film.

Worn by Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend

Howard's End.  This was my favourite dress of the lot.  Not that I'm that big on the military look, just that the wool fabric was heaven and I loved all the complicated tucks and the covered buttons. The skirt had its own tucks and the back of the jacket was beautiful as well.  This was the sort of thing I came to see.

Worn by Emma Thompson

The cut of the jacket looked quite flattering as well.  

Even the darts are tucks!

You can see I was quite taken with it!

Sense and Sensibility.  It wasn't very long ago that I watched the film again and then read the book again just after.  Seems a silly thing to do, but it is a great story and it was fun to find the few bits where the two didn't match.  This isn't my favourite of the costumes.  I love the little pinafore / apron that Emma Thompson removes after gardening, in preparation for a momentous visit...

Worn by Emma Thompson

Worn by Hugh Grant

Death on the Nile.  I've not seen this film. Apparently Bette Davis wasn't impressed with shooting on location and the early screen calls:  
"In the older days, they'd have built the Nile for you. Nowadays, films have become travelogues and actors stuntmen."  

I kind of like that jacket, though, weird as all those buttons are..

Worn by Bette Davis

Shakespeare in Love.  I have this film, too, and re-watch it occasionally (happy to loan it to you Vivien!).  Judi Dench won an Oscar for Best Support Actress in her role as Queen Elizabeth I, which I thought was remarkable considering the brevity of her part, though I'm not arguing the strength of her performance.  Sandy Powell won an Oscar for her costume design.  Seeing this dress I can't help but think Powell helped Dench win her award, it is so phenomenal.

Worn by Judi Dench.

Elizabeth.  I'll tell you another thing that's phenomenal and that is that I've never seen this film, not in its entirety.  Right, I've just come back from adding it to my wish list.  Seeing another film about Elizabeth, Young Bess, at an impressionable age led me to read all about Henry the VIIIth and Elizabeth I and sparked my fascination with British history.  

Worn by Cate Blanchett

Worn by Joseph Fiennes.

Grand as this and the other QE gown is, I'd rather wear Joseph Fiennes' leather jacket!

If you like this sort of thing, there are any number of websites about movie costumes.  I happened upon this one in writing this post.  And I followed this one for a long time.

After doing our tour, we played a bit in the children's section, well, Vivien and I did.  They had great stencils to trace and fabulous dress up boxes, one for girls and one for boys.  Vivien posed behind one of those cardboard costume things, but she'd not thank more for sharing that photo, I'm sure!

 Worn by very lucky girls!!!


vintagefrenchchic said...

What a FUN museum and exhibit. I would have loved seeing all of these costumes too. I have always liked Helena Bonham Carter and I have been wanting to see a "Room With a View" again too. Did you ever see "Lady Jane"? I watched that movie 20 times when I was a teen...just loved it. And I have to say, I like Mr. Olivier. He did a pretty good Mr. Darcy in very liberal adaptation and I loved him in "Rebecca".

Shelley said...

Heather - No, I've not seen Lady Jane, but if it's about Jane Grey I'm sure I'd love it - or hate it - as it can't have a happy ending. Will look into that... I don't dislike Olivier, I just can't say I've followed his work. I'm in no doubt that he is a great actor.

Beryl said...

I am such a fan of antique clothes. An exhibit of modern movie costumes sounds fabulous. Wonder where it will be travelling to? Thanks for all the photos.

Shelley said...

Beryl - I've noticed that my love of history seems to start about 1200, when 'fashion' started mattering, so I guess I'm only interested in well-dressed history!