The exhibit was fantastic. I had such a wonderful time and I was surprised by how many costumes were on display. The original exhibit was put together by the V&A museum in London, and how the VMFA got it, I don't know, but kudos whoever was responsible for bringing it to Richmond!
Photography wasn't allowed, unfortunately, in order to preserve the costumes, but they are well worth preserving. One of the first costumes to greet me as I arrived was Brad Pitt's costume from "Fight Club", complete with the red leather jacket worn by his character, Tyler Durden. I figured this was the closest I was ever going to get to Brad Pitt, mostly because of the retraining order, so I was swooning all other the place. Soon after, I feasted upon Helen Bonham Carter's day dress from "A Room With A View" where Lucy Honeychurch gets a passionate, possessive kiss from George Emerson in the field of barley in Italy.
I was dying to see how all the cotton, linen, and laces were put together, and as a sewer, I wanted to turn up the lights and the skirt of the dress to check out how the costumer finished the seam allowances. But alas, it was not to be!
There was a whole Elizabethan section - costumes from movies about Queen Elizabeth I or set in that era - and there was Gwyneth Paltrow's dress from "Shakespeare in Love", the scene when she is presented to the Queen for the approval of her marriage to the Earl of Wessex - it was exquisite - and Judy Dench's Queen Elizabeth costume from the same film as well. Both of the dresses are in golds and creams, and they radiate opulence, even in the dim light of a museum.
Other notables - Daniel Craig's 007 tuxedo from "Casino Royale" and Mel Gibson's kilt from "Braveheart". (Daniel Craig's shoulders must be really, really broad, and his waist is tiny.) And so many others. I learned a lot about costuming; how each detail of the outfit supports the character or mood of the film. What really struck me was how different making a costume is from sewing clothes. Many of the films that encompassed a particular historical period contained costumes that were not strictly historically accurate - the costumes were "interpretations" of the period and the mood of the film and character they dressed. It was fascinating.
I have become particularly obsessed with Tippi Hedren's green suit from Alfred Hitchcock's film, "The Birds". Made in 1963, her suit consists of a subtle green tweed dress with a boxy jacket with three-quarter sleeves. I looked at it and literally said, "I could make that." I never cared for the film but I love the outfit. What really surprised me were the patch pockets on the jacket - they reach all the way to the hem of the jacket, which I thought was a unique detail. So I've been trolling the internet for more photos of the costume, and I have bought a 1962 pattern with a similar jacket and I've bought some wool tweed from Fabric Mart. My obsession isn't quite complete, as I am sure I will return to the VMFA to check out that suit ensemble prior to making my own version!
So all I can say is: go. Go, and you will be amazed. The exhibit is here until February, and I will definitely return.
But progress was made on the coat: I finished the backside of my bound buttonholes, and I'm glad I did because I was worrying about it. Gertie instructs you to use some silk organza if your wool is prone to fraying, but with the fusible interfacing, I figured I could do without it. I think my first effort is pretty good:
I also went out and bought some thread specifically designed to sew on buttons:
I got it at Hancock's, and I figured I needed it because my metal buttons are heavier than the usual plastic buttons I use - and because they are shank buttons, using my sewing machine's button foot wasn't going to work. I want to make sure once I sew these buttons on, they aren't going to come off.
Onward to hemming and finishing!