Thoughts on the V+A Hollywood exhibition, plus giveaway

I’ve been looking forward to this exhibition for at least a year. Did it live up to the hype?

YES is the short answer. It’s a blockbuster, alright. Stupidly I went during half-term and it was the busiest I’ve ever seen the V&A. We had to queue for 30 minutes even with my members card.

But it was worth waiting for, although equally packed inside (I skipped most of the first room as it was just too rammed).

The first impression you get is of the digital set-dressing. Most of the mannequins have the wearer’s face projected above, moving and looking alive (think Harry Potter style). In the second room, you get to meet costume designers and actors, virtually – they’re projected onto chairs and seem to be talking to each other. As well as this there’s a virtual sketchbook that flip pages as you watch, and digital 3D ‘props’. It’s very impressive.

You can see the digital faces in this pic. Side note: Daniel Craig’s costume was disappointingly short in real life.

The costumes are spectacular, and there’s something for every film lover (Bruce Willis’s sweaty vest from Die Hard, anyone?). My highlight was seeing one of the suits the character Rachel wears in Bladerunner. It’s got bands of graduating fabric running up the jacket, massive 80s-meets-40s shoulder pads, and a tiny bow at the neck. I wish it were mine.

A sketch of Rachel’s Bladerunner costume by the designer Michael Kaplan

Another highlight was this bias-cut, beaded crimson gown, Joan Crawford’s va-va-voom signature dress from The Bride Wore Red. This was a black and white movie, and cleverly they’ve set up a spotlight that fades in and out, so you can see it in full-colour, and then in monochrome as it appeared on film. (Apparently this dress had 2 million bugle beads hand-attached!)

There were a few things that I didn’t love:

  • It’s incredibly dark. I know this is probably for conservation reasons but it makes it frustratingly difficult to see any detail.
  • The digital faces are a decent solution to a tricky problem (identifying the actor/character without going all Madam Tussauds) but the overall impression was a bit cartoonish.
  • You’re very far away from some of the costumes, especially in the third room.
  • The constant swelling music was atmospheric, like sitting in a darkened cinema before a film, but after half an hour it began to grate heavily on my nerves.

Despite this, it’s an amazing exhibition and I’m definitely going back for another look. Does anyone else want to come? Maybe we could do a little meet-up in December or January? Let me know if you’re interested dudes!

I also have a V&A related GIVEAWAY to offer! Well, less of a giveaway, and more of a ‘please take me’.

It’s two tickets to a members talk on Jazz Age fashion at the V&A on the 9th NovVirginia Bates (who owns a famous vintage boutique) will be showing some 20s clothes and talking about her new book – Dressed to Kill: Jazz Age Fashion.

I bought these tickets as a birthday present for a friend and was really looking forward to it, but my friend has had to go to Rio unexpectedly (oh for such a glamorous life) and I have rather predictably double-booked myself on the same night.

Rather than try and off-load them on Gumtree, I thought someone who reads my blog might appreciate this talk. You need to be free on the 9th (this Friday!) and able to get to the V&A by 7pm. Here’s all the info about the event.

If anyone can make it and is interested, just leave a comment below saying that you’d like the tickets, by Wednesday at 10am. If more than one person wants them I’ll pick someone at random.

If no-one wants them then I will have to look into cloning myself by Friday so I can attend both events.

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17 thoughts on “Thoughts on the V+A Hollywood exhibition, plus giveaway

  1. Gilraen November 11, 2012 / 1:59 PM

    I have tickets to see this exhibition, looks as if the Belgian railways are putting a stop to me visiting it though :-(. Like you I have been looking forward to it for months.

  2. thesecretlifeofseams November 7, 2012 / 1:53 PM

    I’d be up for a meet-up visit to the exhibit! The darkness in the last V&A show on ballgowns frustrated me but it didn’t click that it was for conservation reasons, d’oh.

    • yesilikethat November 7, 2012 / 2:16 PM

      That’s my best guess anyway… I was reading the book about the Hollywood Costume exhibition in the gift shop afterwards and it talks a lot about how fragile some of the costumes are. I didn’t buy it though as it was £40, eek.

    • thesecretlifeofseams November 7, 2012 / 4:52 PM

      £40! I’m always gutted when I get out of an exhibit, feeling really excited about it, and then realise the book is too crazy expensive for me to afford. Or perhaps I’m just not used to buying high quality art books…the internet has spoiled me!

  3. ZoSews November 6, 2012 / 1:44 AM

    This exhibition looks amazing! Hmmm maybe is will come to Australia – one can hope 🙂 That red dress is stunning – I can’t imagine having to attach 2 million plus beads!!

  4. Donna November 5, 2012 / 6:59 PM

    I’m definitely jealous – that looks like an awesome exhibit!

  5. Kathryn November 5, 2012 / 6:41 PM

    ooh it looks amazing! I think it was the same outfit of Rachel’s that was in the Postmodernism exhibition at the V&A and I too was so excited to see it! Count me in for a visit to exhibition please! January might be nice – something to look forward to!

  6. byhandlondon November 5, 2012 / 5:54 PM

    The Jazz talk sounds great but I wouldn’t be able to make it, so count me out of the giveaway but most definitely IN IN IN for the exhibition! x

  7. Pendle Stitches November 5, 2012 / 5:44 PM

    I’m not entering the giveaway, but am thrilled to get some detail about this exhibition. I’m going to see it in a couple of weeks and really looking forward to it.

  8. shivani November 5, 2012 / 4:44 PM

    sounds fab! I’d be well up for a little group outing to see this – Dec or Jan are fine. Are you going to see Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty?

    • yesilikethat November 5, 2012 / 4:45 PM

      Yes and I can’t wait! Super excited. x

    • yesilikethat November 5, 2012 / 4:49 PM

      Wait no – I’m going to see that on the 9th Dec! Blimey I have confused even myself. I am going to a friend’s birthday this Friday. I must get a diary so I stop double-booking myself!

    • shivani November 5, 2012 / 4:54 PM

      I need to get tickets! I love everything of his! enjoy!!!

  9. Melizza November 5, 2012 / 4:05 PM

    I LOVED the exhibit. It definitely lived up to the hype. I didn’t expect the amount of effort and creativity that went into the displays and descriptions. I went on opening day and it was PACKED as well. But totally worth the wait.

    And I am so throwing my name in the hat for those tickets. I love anything V&A related 🙂

  10. Vicki Kate November 5, 2012 / 4:04 PM

    I’d love to come and see the exhibition, it looks amazing! I live in Norwich though so would need a little warning… Jan would be best if possible?

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