The Hollywood Costume exhibition ~ V&A

Ever wanted to get up close to some of the most infamous costumes in the history of Hollywood? Well for us lucky Londoners the V&A is giving us the chance to do just that at their Hollywood Costume exhibition. Over 100 film characters from a century of Hollywood film-making in a brilliantly curated exhibition for us to enjoy. It’s been open for a while so there’s a chance it’s old news to you, but if you haven’t seen it yet read on and find out why it’s worth a visit.

When I said brilliantly curated, I really meant it, from start to finish I found myself fascinated and really impressed by how they kept your attention. There’s three scenes to explore, deconstruction, dialogue and the finale. You can’t take pictures and I don’t want to give too much of it away, so here are my highlights.

Bourne - Matt Damon

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Deconstruction really gives you an insight into how much goes into a costume. Could you describe any of Matt Damon’s costumes in the Bourne films? No? There’s a reason for that, it’s quite obvious when you think a bit longer and the job he’s doing.

The Birds - Hollywood Costume exhibition at the V&A_edited-1

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Dialogue was really the best part of the exhibition’s genius way of interacting with visitors. Interviews with some of Hollywood’s established A-list stars and plenty of interesting facts from the designers who created costumes for some of our favourite characters. You don’t really think about the challenges they may come across, but even something like a change in technology can completely alter how they approach the creation of a character’s image on screen.

Saturday Night Fever

Image credit: Photo by Everett Collection from the

Like any truly great Hollywood movie, the Finale is really the most memorable and exciting part of the exhibition as it brings together some of the most famous characters and costumes. From ‘Saturday Night Fever’ to ‘Batman’ (make sure you look up for some of the superheroes) to ‘Moulin Rouge’, it should cover every taste. My favourites were the little black dress worn by Audrey Hepburn in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’, one of the Rodarte ballet costumes worn by Natalie Portman in ‘Black Swan’ and of course the ruby slippers from ‘The Wizard of Oz’.

Want to know more? This is a great little video from the V&A explaining what the exhibition is all about.

The exhibition ends on 27 January so there’s only a few weeks left to see it! Unfortunately all of the online tickets have sold out, but they have got some to sell at the V&A ticket office. I went down on a Sunday morning and there were some available for a slot within the hour.

Have you been to the Hollywood Costume exhibition yet? What did you think and what were your favourite costumes?


  1. Anita
    January 10, 2013 / 12:46 am

    Ooh, I went to this a few months ago and loved it! Have to admit I’d never thought how much work goes into designing a costume. The 3rd room (again I don’t want to give too much away!) had me in embarrassing fangirl spasms of delight!

  2. Anita
    January 10, 2013 / 12:46 am

    PS. Oh and fave costume- DEFINITELY Moulin Rouge!