Sketch to Screen

On Tuesday I visited the Oklahoma City Museum of Art’s latest exhibit, Sketch to Screen, a retrospective on the role of costumes in film. I have been positively giddy about this exhibition. It’s especially exciting to me because it is not a traveling exhibition, meaning that it was an original idea curated and executed exclusively by the OKCMOA. Bravo, OKCMOA!

My only sincere and deep regret was that photography was strictly prohibited. There were so many great pictures just begging to be shot! Sad. But – the museum does have a great Flickr stream with some excellent shots so you can get an idea of what to expect at the show. You will not be disappointed.

The day that I visited, I was pleased to see numerous school groups touring the exhibit with me and receiving an excellent lecture in film history as well as design and conceptual ideas. It’s more than just an exhibit on crazy, pretty, or interesting period costumes. It’s about understanding what the designer is trying to express through nonverbal communication. Also it was great to me to see movies from all eras represented. Sometimes it’s easy for older movies or books to be disregarded, as if just because they are old they have nothing to offer modern audiences. So not true! But it was kinda funny to hear the docent ask those junior high kids, “Has anyone seen Gone with the Wind? Anyone?”  The kids’ chaperone squawked, “COME ON! NO ONE?!?!

Gone with the Wind’s gowns were the only ones not authentic – these shown were reproductions created a few decades ago to preserve the designer’s original vision.

Remember that dramatic scene when the scandalized Scarlett shows up at Ashley’s birthday party? Ohhh it was bad. A scarlet woman indeed.  Those grommet-ringed rhinestones were gorgeous, scattered all over the red velvet.  Gone with the Wind was my favorite; I read it as a fifth grader and had visions of parading around in hoop skirts. The fifth grader in me still in love with Scarlett’s wardrobe was thrilled to see these dresses.

Legally Blonde‘s pink suit w/ matching Jimmy Choos. Even the chihuahua’s suit too! And next to her? Why, Givenchy’s creation for Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face, bien sur. Funny Face is one of my favorite fashion movies.

Marie Antoinette. Stunning in gold lame and black lace.

Greta Garbo’s dress from Queen Christina.  She was a very petite woman. Looking at the weight of that velvet dress made me think she must have been consumed by that gown. It looked heavy.

That orange dress in the middle? Deborah Kerr in An Affair to Remember. Chiffon gloriousness.  One dress they showed but not on a mannequin was the famous green gown worn by Keira Knightley in Atonement. That emerald green gown is gorgeous with laser-cut detail on the neckline. It looked extremely delicate, like a piece of silk tissue that might just disappear if you blew on it the wrong way. I wondered why they didnt have it on a mannequin.

Check out that large slate for wardrobe test shots there on the left. I think that could be a really cool piece if it were reproduced, similar to all those subway maps that are so popular these days. To the right were the most gorgeous sketches for individual characters in Gone with the Wind. They were probably my favorite of all the sketches featured because of their immense attention to detail.

Sweet Charity, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and Hello Dolly!

But my most favorite gown is this chevron evening gown worn by the swimmingly fabulous Esther Williams of bathing beauty fame. The gown was a mix of gold lame and black and linen wools. For a dress created decades ago, it is as pertinent to modern day as anything designed today. I really wish they would shoot a better closeup. It is incredible. I looked high and low for photos of it on Esther in the film (Jupiter’s Darling) but couldn’t find anything. And do you know what is hanging there to the right?! Only the most precious little outfits from the Sound of Music! The original Von Trapp children’s uniforms before they were liberated to “just be children” by Fraulein Maria.

Titanic anyone?

Nicole Kidman’s bustier from Moulin Rouge. This was not as tiny as I had anticipated. But as I was standing there staring at it, two junior high girls came up behind me. “What’s that from?” asked the one. “Oh, that’s from Moulin Rouge,” answered the other.  Pause.  “You know, the stripping club movie,” she added knowingly. I about cracked up.

I absolutely loved this exhibit. I have got to get back there before it ends later this summer. Have you been yet?

All photos from the Oklahoma City Museum of Art Flickr stream.

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