CUT! Costume and the Cinema

Cassanova costume

A while back I had the chance to attend the final day of a 5 week run of CUT! Costume and the Cinema at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary.
Over the next little while I’m hoping to post pictures and comments about each of the costumes that I saw at the show, but I’ll start off with a little overview of the show itself.

The costumes are all from British costumer, Cosprop Ltd. and represent a number of  different eras from popular costume-heavy movies. There were a few movies represented that were natural choices – movies like The Dutchess (staring the costumes and then some actors… I thought it was one of those movies to watch only for the costumes, because I didn’t care for the rest of the movie!) and a number of Jane Austin movies.

Awesome points

Great write ups about the costumes, the reasons the costumes were chosen, and backdrops that enhanced rather than took away from the clothing.

I loved the inclusion of some of the undergarments used to create the shapes of the costumes.  There weren’t many on display (only three actually) but I really appreciated seeing them.

I also loved seeing a costume worn by Nicole Kidman (so tall and slender!) side-by-side with a costume worn by Rene Zellweger (so petite!)  Likewise – I always think of Angelica Houston as enormously tall and statuesque – but the dressform for her costume didn’t seem overly tall at all!  I was a little shocked as well, seeing how incredibly TINY Keira Knightly’s costume’s dressforms were as well.

Another really cool thing – was seeing the finishing on some of the costumes.  Most were finished to last – the same way ready-to-wear or couture clothing is made (versus stage costumes where glue-guns are just as valid as sewing machines…) but a few had raw edges, pinked edges, and other “30ft rule” allowances. I wonder how these costumes would stand up over time!?

As a sewer, I also loved seeing how they took materials that I have in my own stash to make up some of the costumes, how they layered trim to create trim that looked more historically accurate, and all the other detail work.

Jack Sparrow

Minor frustrations

Most of the costumes were up against the wall – so it was impossible to see all the way around the garments.  In previous shows mirrors have accommodated these views, and this would have made a nice addition.  I ended up doing a lot of camera reach-arounds to get different views I couldn’t get with my eye.

At one point I could have sworn I saw a (costumed!) guide giving additional information about the costumes – but there was no area to sign up for this ‘tour’.  I have no idea if this was a separate feature from an outside group, or if this was a Glenbow/exhibit employee there for the information and enjoyment of all of the patrons.

There was a point made about how many costumes are used and re-used in different productions.  I think that large, detailed photos of the costumes in all of their different lives would have been fascinating.  Seeing how a costume lived in one movie, then was worn on stage, and then finally transformed to be shown in another movie would have really illustrated how these costumes are used – and how they have to be transformable to suit different movies, different actors, and different art direction.

The hat


I was a bit disappointed in the overall size of the exhibit – I had anticipated all of the Glenbow’s special exhibit space to be filled with costumes, but instead it was just one room. It looked like there was actually empty spaces behind the room, going unused.  Even if they had not added more costumes, they could have at least spread out what they had to allow for more angles for viewing.

After looking at the Exhibits Development website, I realize that there were costumes included in the show that didn’t make it to the floor of the Glenbow!  That is even more frustrating actually…  For instance, Cate Blanchett’s costume from Elizabeth should have been included (and wasn’t!!!!), Meryl Streep’s costume from Out of Africa and a costume from La Vie en Rose were also supposed to be included and were not in this show.  😦   Elizabeth!!! Boo Glenbow!

Full shot of the hat

There were a number of movies that I would really liked to have seen represented in a show about costume in the cinema – and costumes even from the movies that were represented that were glaringly missing.

  • For instance, they showed the costume Johnny Depp wore in Pirates of the Caribbean, but not the (I consider) iconic dress that Keira Knightly wore.
  • The court dress from Ever After worn by Angelica Houston was featured, but not any of the dresses worn by Drew Barrymore.  There were so many gowns from this movie – it`s  too bad that only one was displayed.
  • The hideous peach ballgown from Phantom of the Opera was included, but not the beautiful, simple white gown that represented Christine’s innocence before she met her teacher.  (Nor any of the fantastic costumes from the Corps!)
  • From Sherlock Holms, they included the two (rather boring) costumes worn by Robert Downy Jr. and Jude Law, but not the costume(s) worn by Rachel McAdams. While I do appreciate the contrast between the two characters in their costume, it would have been nice to see more of the ladies costumes! (Especially for me and this era!)

I can only presume that these notable costumes are either involved in other exhibits, weren’t chosen by the Glenbow, or weren’t made by (or owned by) Cosprop.  Added to this, it would have been fantastic to see some of the costumes from other movies that I really think of as “costume dramas”.  Perhaps I’m just hoping for too much to come to ‘little’ Calgary. 😦

The complete outfit with the hat in the back to the right.

Looking on the web, I found some of the same costumes in a `Cinema Couture“ show – and it looks as though there were a LOT more costumes to be seen!  I presume that this show made it to larger centers than Calgary – but luckily other costume lovers are kind enough to share on Flickr – check out Tudor_Chic`s photos!

So… stay tuned for photos and write ups about all of the costumes! (Want more before I get around to posting – check out Avenue Magazine`s article!) If you attended the show (either in Calgary or anywhere else it was on tour) what did you think?  Share your thoughts in the comments below!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.