As film, clothes and archives are some of my key research interests, the Hollywood Costume exhibition at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image was something of a perfect storm. I was so excited by this show that I was toying with the idea of travelling to London to see it at the Victoria and Albert Museum, so I was thrilled that it came to me instead.
I gave numerous public talks about screen costume during the exhibition’s run from 24 April to 18 August, 2013.
I appeared on a panel event called The Emperor”s New Clothes on Sunday 5 May, 2013, along with costume designer Katie Graham (Wilfred, Small Time Gangster) and Dr Terrie Waddell, Senior Lecturer in Media and Cinema Studies at La Trobe University. I discussed the role of costumes in developing a character, and the ways in which we view ‘historicity’ in period costumes.
I also presented a lecture on Elizabeth Taylor on 21 May and 18 July, 2013, whose onscreen and offscreen clothes are so memorable. This was part of an ACMI package where you get to hear the talk and then go explore the exhibition. The talk was richly illustrated with pics of Taylor’s film costumes (especially Cleopatra), her wedding dresses, her groovy outfits from what I refer to as “the Yachting Years” and, most fabulously, her jewels! It went down quite well, and I surprised myself by how much information about Taylor’s life and style I had accumulated while researching.
You can see some of the images I used for my talk on Pinterest.
On 4 July, 2013, I appeared at ACMI’s “Life Is A Cabaret” event. Hosted by Kip from Joy FM’s Cabaret Room, it also included the director of the Melbourne Cabaret Festival speaking on the history of cabaret in Melbourne, a performance of Liza Minnelli songs, and Clementine Ford doing a dramatic reading from Christopher Isherwood’s source novella. I discussed the historical and cultural context of the Weimar costumes from the film Cabaret.
7 July, 2013, was Wizard of Oz Day at ACMI and I gave a short lecture about the costume designer, Adrian, who was one of Hollywood’s most legendary designers. I only made one “ADRIAAAAAAN!” joke, which few people got. My talk focused on how his Wizard of Oz costumes were constructed, and how they create character and drive the narrative in the film.