This exciting exhibition includes 43 period costumes from 26 films, depicting five centuries of history, drama, and comedy. An experience like no other awaits visitors as they discover the glamour and artistry of cinematic couture, delight in sumptuous fabrics and unparalleled embroidery, and bask in the allure of famous film stars. The amazing costumes in this exhibition come from a collection of more than 100,000 costumes and accessories made by the renowned British costumer, Cosprop Ltd.)
Earlier in the year I got a preview of the current exhibition at the Columbia Museum Art: CUT! Costume and the Cinema. Like most big museum shows, there's an educational component. Frequently, this means additional information can be accessed via a headset or by entering a code on one's smart phone.
Many of the audio/visual clips, however, were filmed locally by Drew Barron, multimedia coordinator at the museum. Drew did a fantastic job setting up "the scene" in my dining room, filming, and especially editing the short clips. Drew also filmed Karen Brosius, the museum's director; Catherine Walworth, the museum's curator; an Morihiko Nakahara, Music Director of South Carolina Philharmonic (who speaks about movie music). The local videos were seamlessly paired with musical clips, images of historic artwork, and ones featuring Jenny Beavan, Oscar winning costume designer; Thomas Sjolander, a Dutch embroiderer specializing in costumes for film, theater costumes and historic couture; and John Galliano from the House of Dior. Wow! I am truly honored.
The exhibit opened while I was teaching a workshop for the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts. My husband Steve attended and said he couldn't wait for me to see it. Yes, I was totally blown away! These are some of the images I took last week ... with links to the short video clips on the museum's website. The full listing of videos is HERE.
(Above: From The Duchess, 2008, a late 18th century English story in which Ralph Fiennes appeared in this costume as William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire.)
My first video appearance is in the introductory remarks. CLICK HERE to access. In this 1:38 minute video, I show off an antique lace collar that I own ... and my only "gown", purchased over a decade ago from a fancy, local boutique called The Ivory Tower. I can still fit into it! LOL!
(Detail of Ralph Fiennes' costume from The Duchess.)
I also appear in a segment called COUCHING. It is HERE. In it, I demonstrate this stitch and get an opportunity to show off one of my Decision Portrait Series pieces because all the words were couched onto the three layers of this unique art quilt.
(Above: A detail of the quilted skirt worn by Keira Knightley in The Duchess.)
Speaking of quilting, there are two segments on trapunto. They are HERE. In both, I mention how trapunto is a form of quilting ... and how quilting is at least two (or, more often, three) layers held together by stitch. (This just happens to be Studio Art Quilt Associates' paraphrased definition of "an art quilt"!) I also reference the quilted skirt worn by Keira Knightley in The Duchess.
(Above: Renee Zellweger's attire as Beatrix Potter in Miss Potter, 2006.)
The Beatrix Potter costume happens to reference two of my videos! The first is called BUTTONS in which I get to show off some of my enormous button stash but also one of my Grave Rubbing Art Quilts on which I stitched eight crocheted buttons ... very similar to those on the bodice worn by Renee Zellweger in Miss Potter (2006). CLICK HERE.
The same link provides a second video ... Ruching, Pleats, Ruffles ... in which I demonstrate the techniques and mention the outstanding skirt of this costume.
(Above: Detail of the Beatrix Potter costume's inserting pleated skirting.)
My video on BEADING is listed with the costumes from Finding Neverland, a 2004 film depicting J.M. Barrie's friendship with the family who inspired him to write Peter Pan.
(Above: Detail of the beaded cuff on an Arts and Craft Movement inspired robe worn by Kate Winslet as Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, a bohemian character who dazzled in this incredibly gorgeous work stitched by Thomas Sjolander.)
The cream silk night dress and Arts & Crafts inspired robe worn by Kate Winslet were on the top of my list of "must see" costumes in this exhibit. It did not disappoint! I stood in awe!
(Above: Another detail from the Finding Neverland costume. This was one of several silk-and-metal motifs featured on the unusually long hemline of the robe.)
The embroidery truly looked as if it were period ... but I guess that's what one can expect when a true master at historic embroidery plies his needle. The work was created by the Dutch professional, Thomas Sjolander.)
(Above: Radha Mitchell wore this fabulous gown as Mary Ansell Barrie in Finding Neverland.)
The other costume on display from Finding Neverland was worn by Radha Mitchell. I can't even begin to describe how tiny some of these actresses must be to fit into such costumes! This dress is magnificent from every angle and is fortunately positioned so that viewers can walk around it.
(Above: Detail of the beading on Radha Mitchell's costume as Mary Ansell Barrie.)
The beading, however, took my breathe away. It is hard to believe that this fine dress has a audio/visual number linking to a video featuring me! I still can't believe it!
(Above: Natalie Portman's attire as Ines/Alicia in Goya's Ghost.)
Yet, I am even prouder of the short video in which I share THE BUTTONHOLE STITCH. Why? Well, I borrowed one of my Grandma Lenz's duvet covers. Normally, it's in a cedar chest at my mother's house ... just like an ideal dowry normally is stored. Grandma Lenz grew up in rural Hungary and stitched her household linens using a treadle machine. Treadle machines don't do the zigzag stitch and thus all the buttonholes were stitched by hand. I think Grandma Lenz would be very pleased to know her work was seen on a museum website. I was honored to share it. (Grandma Lenz died in December 1977 ... before I started stitching ... but after she helped me make a few aprons on her treadle machine in order to earn my Girl Scout sewing badge!)
(Above: Detail of the faggoting stitched used to attach the two shades of peach crepe cotton on this costume worn by Sandra Bullock while portraying Agnes von Kurowsky in In Love and War.)
Grandma Lenz's work is also included in my video featuring the FAGGOTING STITCH. The faggoting stitch means that there is no traditional seam when attaching two pieces of fabric to one another. The fabric is attached "edge-to-edge" ... and will lay perfectly flat. I show off one of Grandma Lenz's table clothes.
(Above: Another detail of Sandra Bullock's costume from In Love and War.)
Although it was quite wonderful to include my Grandma Lenz while being filmed, I did not leave out a nod to my mother and ninety-seven year old Grandma Baker. I used my dress form in the video illustrating DRAPING. I've used the dress form in other artwork, including as a base for Exodus and it helped me create a few wearable art garments made from flowers collected from cemetery dumpsters. I got the dress form from my mother ... who got it from my Grandma! Thanks Mom! Thanks Grandma!
(Above: Detail of the skirt worn by Keira Knightley in The Duchess.)
The other videos are all quite wonderful. It was truly an honor to be a small part of this exhibit which runs through February 19, 2017. Directly above and further below are more of the images I shot last week when visiting the show. I will be going back ... more than once. It is a rare and wonderful experience to see these pieces in person.
COSPROP is one of the world’s leading costumiers to film, television and theatre, specializing in the hire and making-to-hire of period costume for professional productions. They offer an exhibition service to museums and historical houses.)
(Above: Vanessa Redgrave's costume to portray Mrs. Clarissa Dalloway in Mrs. Dalloway, the 1997 film based on a novel by Virginia Woolf. The dress is typical of the 1920s. Beads were stitched to the dark brown outer netting which is hung over a pale eau de nil silk dress. The two fabrics together give a dark green effect.
(Above: Detail of Vanessa Redgrave's dress from Mrs. Dalloway.)
More beads were added to the hem and lower part of the under dress in order that it have enough weight to hang better.
It was quite interesting to see how costuming decisions could impact the intentions of a film's director, how liberties are taken in order to convey particular meaning, and how important fabric, stitch, design, and style are to the movies.
(Above: Two of the six versions of the leather bomber jacket worn by Daniel Craig when portraying Tuvia Bielski in Defiance, 2008. It was equally interesting to see how distressing fabric is important to show gradual wear during the course of the film. These jackets were subjected to having their seams bashed with a hammer, sanding the edges, and being sprayed with leather dyes to affect the look of aging ... with special attention paid to the cuffs and lining that might be visible on screen.)