CUT! Costume and the Cinema: A review.

It’s been a busy summer for this costume designer, between mounting shows and traveling to various museums for costume and fashion exhibits. While some shows have been hit-and-miss, I never regret seeing what new museums have to offer!

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Most recently, my co-workers and I trekked up to Sandwich, Massachusetts to visit the beautiful Heritage Museums & Gardens to see the CUT! Costume and the Cinema show. It was pretty exquisite– keep reading to find-out more about the exhibition and the museum!

Displaying costumes from a variety of movies, and showcasing the talents of designers like Penny Rose (Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl), Jenny Beavan (Ever After) and Alexandra Byrne (Phantom of the Opera), CUT! was a treat for designers, costume technicians and lay people alike. These garments were created by the artisans at Cosprop, a London-based costume manufacturer that specializes in period costume for television, theatre and cinema.

The staging and presentation of the show was interesting and appropriate, but not overwhelming.
The staging and presentation of the show was interesting and appropriate, but not overwhelming.

One of the spectacular attributes CUT! was that you could get an almost 360-degree view of some really beautiful garments; garments that, during a movie, are sometimes only seen from a single angle. Just because a certain costume was going to be seen for seconds didn’t mean that the designers or stitchers slacked on the entirety of the costume.

The back view of Carlotta's (Minnie Driver) dress from 2004's Phantom of the Opera.
The back view of Carlotta’s dress from 2004’s Phantom of the Opera.
A terrible picture of a beautiful dress, designed by Jenny Beavan and worn by Angelica Huston in Ever After. The detail on the back of the garment was just lovely.
A terrible picture of a beautiful dress, designed by Jenny Beavan and worn by Angelica Huston in Ever After. The detail on the back of the garment was just lovely.

Throughout CUT!, there were informational placards and binders, and for individuals who might not be up on exactly what it is a costume does for a character, movie, show, etc (Hint: Costumes provide a LOT of information for the viewer, even if it’s not readily evident).

Costumes from Goya's Ghosts, designed by Yvonne Blake.
Costumes from Goya’s Ghosts, designed by Yvonne Blake.

It was also heartening to see some mistakes (uneven center front points, and that a lot of the trim used, while hand-sewn on the garments, was actually pretty flimsy-looking)

Take heart, stitchers, home-sewers and cosplayers everywhere: Everyone makes mistakes! (those center front points are actually kind of surprisingly uneven).
Take heart, stitchers, home-sewers and cosplayers everywhere: Everyone makes mistakes! (those center front points are actually kind of surprisingly uneven).

My one criticism of the exhibit was how prominently the actors’ names were displayed instead of the costume designer. It’s a costume exhibit: the individual(s) responsible for the costume’s inception should be highlighted, not those who wore it.  That aside, this was an lovely show, and if you have the opportunity to see it, I highly recommend it!

CUT! Costume and the Cinema will be on display through October 2016 at the Heritage Museums and Gardens, and then it will move onto its next location. Check-out future exhibit locations here.


Do you plan on visiting, or have you already visited, any costume and fashion exhibits lately? Is there a great exhibit you’d like to share with us? Go ahead and leave a comment below!

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