May 5, 2014

Phoenix Art Museum: Hollywood Costumes

This last weekend I went to the Hollywood Costumes exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum. It was beautiful. I teared up a few times. It’s okay, you are allowed to judge me.

The exhibition was excellent- I recommend anyone in the Phoenix-metro area to go view the costumes. The only thing I was disappointed in was the lack of Colleen Atwood costumes. She is my absolute favorite designer. Her work on Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, Snow White and the Huntsman, and Sleepy Hollow is just FANTASTIC. Her use of texture alone in Snow White in the Huntsman is beyond inspiring. She is a genius. They did have one costume from Sweeny Todd and one from Series of Unfortunate Events that were designed by her, but IMHO they are not her most fantastic pieces. So that was a wee bit disappointing, but still lovely to see her work.

I have a few…okay a lot of photos to show you from some of my favorite costumes!!

Adams Family

Mortica’s dress was drool-worthy. The lace, the beading, and that fantastic plunge. If I didn’t already love Morticia to death, I would because of this fantastic costume.


Of all the dresses and costumes I saw this was the one which amazed me the most. It is Guinevere’s gown. Pearls are scattered across the front, which were amazing, but what truly was fantastic were the pumpkin seeds. WHAT? YES. Pumpkin seeds. There were hundreds, thousands sewn onto her trailing cape and the result was majestic. How pumpkin seeds can make a dress look majestic, I cannot say, but it was beautiful.

Meryl Streep’s dress

I have forgotten which movie this was from, it may have been from Frankenstein. Two years ago I never would have been interested in this dress. I would have walked right past it. The time period wasn’t one of interest for me. I mean- there is NO flash, no sparkle, nothing to draw your eye. Obviously my tastes in costumes are changing as I get older and am more exposed to different periods. This was one of the dresses that made me tear up. The lines are beautiful. And the design is perfect.


From unadorned to super flashy! I LOVE Dracula. Partly because I love Gary Oldman and partly because VAMPIRES! (The cool kind, not the sparkly woosies) The costumes in this movie are gorgeous, just look at the embroidery on Elizaveta’s dress!! The detail is just astounding.

Series of Unfortunate Events

Another Meryl Streep costume- they were really enamored with her. This one was designed by Colleen Atwood, and as I said before- her use of texture is inspiring. First glance it looks like a regular black gown with leg-o-mutton sleeves. But then as you look closer the detail draws you in, creates character. Here is a picture of Meryl Streep in the movie…I mean- gorgeous?!


The costumes in this film are lovely. William Wallace’s costumes are not the ones my eyes were most drawn to while watching the film, but this costume is fantastic. I love his armor. It’s fantastic, and historically correct. And it’s beautiful.


Woo more historical costumes!! I had a hard time tearing my eyes away from the plethora of Elizabethan costumes on display. Elizabethan is one of those periods that has always been a love of mine- particularly because of the sheer amount of detail. Seriously, the details are crazy. Thank goodness I don’t look so fabulous in Tudor and Elizabethan costume, because my hands would hurt from all the minute detail stitching.

The first costume had a stiffened, pleated lace collar with gems and pearls sewn onto it. As if that wasn’t enough of an eye draw, the entire stomacher was embroidered and beaded. Hundreds of hours of work… and then because THAT isn’t enough detail the sleeves and skirts had further embroidery and beading, albeit less than the front. Simply gorgeous.

The second was just as ornamented. Embroidery, beading, yards and yards of fabric. Another reason to stay away from Elizabethan era costuming- it is EXPENSIVE to buy all the fabric and detail materials. But the result is stunning.

17th Century

I have never been a huge fan of the 17th century. I’m not a fan of panniers, and I prefer embroidery over trim as detail additions. But there are some pieces of the 17th century that just…amaze me. Usually this happens when panniers are not involved. The shape and flow of the sack back gown has always been one of interest to me. It just screams elegance and regality. They had a sack back on display. I drooled.

Do you have a favorite costume from a movie or a TV show? What is it, and why do you love it?

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