Flirt with Hollywood Costumes and the Great Gatsby

20 Aug

I love ACMI – they always exhibit such interesting exhibitions such as Tim Burton, Game Masters and now the Hollywood Costumes.

Hollywood Costume @ Acmi

Hollywood Costume @ Acmi

Too bad photography weren’t allowed inside the exhibition as there were a lot of interesting costumes.  BUT they did have a set of Great Gatsby costumes on public display.

The purple tea time dress worn by Carey Mulligan is by far the dress that gave the strongest impression during the movie.

Daisy finally reunited with her old flame - Gatsby

Daisy finally reunited with her old flame , Gatsby

Costumes from the Great Gatsby

Costumes from the Great Gatsby

A close up on the dress details. Strips of fabric were cut, rolled up an sewn to resemble bluebells.

A close up on the dress details. Strips of fabric were cut, rolled up an sewn to resemble bluebells.

Though the main attraction is the costumes, but the point of this exhibition is to explain the role of a costume designer. There were snippets of comments from actors/actresses, directors, designers themselves, its interesting to know how those costumes came about. Their inspiration, their decisions, stories behind every piece..

Dress worn by Satine from Moulin Rouge (photo from

Pink Diamond Dress worn by Nicole Kidman from Moulin Rouge (photo from

The comment from Nicole Kidman on the Pink Diamond dress (designed by Catherine Martin / Angus Strathie)  was that they had to spent about 4 hours on the makeup, hair and putting (sewing some part of) this dress on. Wasn’t exactly the dress you want to be in while doing high kicks.

(photo from Prestige French Riviera)

A display of Costumes (photo from Prestige French Riviera)

The purple dress in the centre (designed by Irene Sharaff)  was worn by Barbara Streisand from Funny Girl and the infamous Givenchy Black Dress on the left was worn by Audrey Hepburn for Breakfast At Tiffany’s.

The silk green dress (designed by Jacqueline Durran) on the bottom left was worn by Keira Knightley in Atonement during the eventful dinner scene. The costume has to portray a slippery feel, like she was moving underwater, for the scene.  A 100 yards of white silk were dyed and tested to create different shades of green. I’m rather biased, I can only remember the stories behind those costumes of movies that I’ve watched :p

Closer look at the Givenchy Black Dress

Closer look at the Givenchy Black Dress

Peacock Dress (photo from HolyMoly)

Peacock Dress (photo from HolyMoly)

Can’t remember where this Peacock dress is from but I remember the costume designer mentioned that a friend came on to the set and said he’s got a peacock farm. And the next thing, she start picking up real peacock feathers for the dress.

Brokeback Mountain Costumes (photo from HolyMoly)

Brokeback Mountain Costumes designed by Marit Allen (photo from HolyMoly)

In costume designing, heaps of research are involved and not just the surface bit like ‘ya, we’ll dress them cowboys in jeans’. There are details such as rodeo riders tend to prefer tight-fitting Wranglers and those in the ranch would prefer loose Levi’s. In Brokeback Moutain, Heath Leadger plays the role of a ranch hand and Jake  Gyllenhaal as a rodeo rider.

Superman (Photo by HolyMoly)

Superman (Photo by HolyMoly)

Probably one of the most talked about costumes in history and yay we ain’t seeing anymore of it on the silver screen. They had to test 20 prototypes of Lycra to get the right fabric weight so its cape could fly.

Costume worn by Natalie Portman in Closer (Photo by T-shirt and tails)

Costume worn by Natalie Portman in Closer (Photo by T-shirt and tails)

The costume does not begin when the Director shouts ‘Action’, it needs to have an existing history behind it.

Ann Roth, the costume designer for Closer mentioned that her inspiration came about when she was at the airport, during transit. She saw a girl who was lying down on a stretch of a chairs and felt a connection with Natalie Portman’s character. She sketched out what the girl was wearing. The blue jacket was made to look like a pass me down, something that the character could have gotten at a shared hostel or from a previous housemate.

Cinderella Dress from Ever After designed by Jenny Beavan

Cinderella Dress (also known as the Breathe Gown) from Ever After designed by Jenny Beavan

This costume ain’t from the exhibition but it’s one of my favourite and most memorable one. Maybe coz I saw the movie when I was 12 and find it to be so dreamy. Used to think Drew Barrymore was the prettiest girl ever in that Cinderella dress and angel wings.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: