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This is the closest I could get to a movie set. The actual costume worn by prominent screen actors in period movies, that’s the current exhibit “Cut! Costume and the Cinema” at the Glenbow Museum in the centre of Cowtown. Some of the designs had garnered Academy Awards.

Since I could not take any photos inside, this outdoor poster is the only one that I could capture on my camera to give you a sense of what’s in the exhibit: 43 costumes from 25 blockbusters, worn by 30 stars. Mind you, just watching the clothes on headless mannequins is not the same as seeing them on real people with all the set and props you see on screen. So in a way, this is a deconstruction of the magic. However, to have such an exhibition come to Cowtown, I’m excited just the same.

All the items from the exhibition are from the renowned costume house Cosprop of London, England. I learn that for those representing a period before the sewing machine, they have to be hand sewn to reflect authenticity. And due to the cost and labor involved, costumes are usually altered from other existing costumes, seldom are they made from scratch.

Here’s a sample of what I saw, costumes worn by:

Kate Winslet as Marianne Dashwood in “Sense and Sensibility”

Renée Zellweger as Beatrix Potter in “Miss Potter

Emmy Rossum as Christine in “The Phantom of the Opera”

Maggie Smith as Constance Trentham in “Gosford Park”

Vanessa Redgrave as Ruth Wilcox in “Howards End”

Scarlett Johansson as Olivia Wenscombe in “The Prestige”

Colin Farrell as Captain Smith in “The New World”

Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow in “Pirates of the Caribbean”

Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson

Keira Knightly as Georgiana and Ralph Fiennes as the Duke in the Oscar winning costume design of “The Duchess”

… and some others.

But what resonated most with me was that deep turquoise long dress worn by Natasha Richardson as Countess Sofia Belinskya, matching with Ralph Fiennes’s dark green plaid suit jacket in his role as the blind Todd Jackson in “The White Countess.” Looking at the costumes brought back scenes from that movie… the quiet resilience of Sofia, the white countess from Russia, now a refugee in WWII Shanghai, turning a new page in her life with the wounded but passionate ex-diplomat Todd Jackson. Just sad to know she’s no longer with us.

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CLICK HERE to an informative video on the exhibit by the Boca Raton Museum of Art in Florida. A 5 min. virtual tour with commentary by Cut! curator Nancy Lawson. 

You may also be interested in these previous posts on Ripple Effects:

Natasha Richardson: Nell and The White Countess

The Merchant Ivory Dialogues

Howards End by E. M. Forster

Miss Potter for Christmas

Austen-inspired Acceptance Speech

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