Thursday, August 25, 2011

Dressing the Stars in Bath at the Fashion Museum

There's a few days left to catch a fantastic exhibition at the Fashion Museum in Bath. It's called 'Dressing the Stars' and features the talents of costume designers who work in film. This has to be one of my favourite museums, not least because it is housed in the Assembly Rooms which feature in Jane Austen's novels, so it's always a treat to visit.

Over forty costumes are on display in total in the exhibition, worn by stars including Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Carribean, Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter in The King’s Speech, and Keira Knightley in The Duchess, some of which was shot at the Assembly Rooms in Bath. Other costumes include those worn by Cate Blanchett in  Elizabeth,  Gwyneth Paltrow in Shakespeare in Love, and Meryl Streep in The French Lieutenant’s Woman.
My favourite, and the ones I couldn't wait to see in detail were the costumes worn by Kate Winslet and Alan Rickman for the wedding at the end of Sense and Sensibility. The wedding scene is over so quickly, and Kate's dress only flashes onto the screen for a few moments, but I've always thought it was beautiful. Designed by Jenny Beavan and John Bright, the costumes lived up to my expectations, and Kate's dress, in particular, is divine. I'm always amazed at the detail that goes into these costumes even when they're seen from a distance. One of Emma Thompson's dresses is also featured - the other striking feature I noted was that these film stars are all so tiny!
 You can also see an exhibition of over 30 of the Fashion Museum’s most exquisite cream, ivory and white wedding dresses at the ‘What will she wear? The enduring romance of the wedding dress’ exhibition. Many of the exhibits are over 100 years old, delicate silks with gossamer fine lace and embroidery, all  carefully hand-picked for the new display.

 'WHAT WILL SHE WEAR?' includes wedding dresses made of silks brocaded with metal thread, lustrous silk satins, even crisp white nylons; some of the dresses are decorated with ribbons and bows, some with antique lace.

White has been the colour most associated with wedding dress in western cultures for well over 200 years and 'What will she wear?' includes historical examples from the early 19th century. The most up to date wedding dress in the exhibition is a white lace dress, with an asymmetric hem by designer Alexander McQueen worn in Summer 2010, and especially lent to the Fashion Museum for the display.

Finally, there are some beautiful examples of Regency muslin dresses and accessories in the main gallery, which provide wonderful inspiration!

Jane Odiwe

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