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HOLLYWOOD COSTUME EXHIBITION IN V&A 2012

From the 20th of last month, Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) housed more than seven hundred Hollywood costumes in which some of the most memorable outfits throughout cinema history are displayed - from Vivien Leigh's green dress from Gone with the Wind to Christopher Reeve’s Superman costume. Walking into the exhibition you can have a cinematic experience as organizer British Film Institute (BFI) deliberately merges the static costumes into a moving medium atmosphere as it can be, with setting up famous soundtrack with dimmed light to selling popcorn in the gift shop.

There is no doubt that exhibiting Hollywood screen costume is a good way to sell tickets as it sounds like a fantasy is coming true to most of us. If you are happy to pay for a glimpse on the static costumes that only alive when they are on screen, without being annoyed buy the noisy background music mixing all together alongside with the high volt spotlights, there is no harm to take a walk through the dressed up dummies. According to Oscar-winning British designer Jim Acheon, the idea of exhibiting Hollywood costume is terrible and it is bound to end in tears. Just like illustrating “dead frocks on dummies”. Although it is obvious that the curator tried to impart life to the outfits with square screens showing the actor’s moving face right above the outfit just balanced where the neck should be, still the costumes can only comes to life when they are worn in the screen.

As I see it, the exhibition however has the value of stirring up viewer’s long lost memories of the movies as well as reflecting the importance of the spirit in costume. To some extents the exhibition also helps explaining why catwalk show still valued in showcasing fashion in the market, garments should be given life to be valuable.

By Jennifer Chan - Fashion Writer for A-SHU.CO.UK.

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