Welcome to my site dedicated to the collecting, restoration and preservation of motion picture costume and prop history. Everything you see on this site was originally designed, created and worn by the stars. Please enjoy your tour into the wonderful world of Hollywood Costume and please check back often for updates on the collection. Do you have costumes or props you are interested in selling? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, February 23, 2015
COSTUMES FROM THE GOLDEN AGE OF HOLLYWOOD!
Exactly three months ago I was proud to experience the opening of this, my first major exhibition of original screen used film costumes all sourced from my personal collection of vintage film costumes. The exhibition opened at the Museum of Brisbane in November 2014 and runs through to the end of May 2015.
As at last weekend the exhibit has had over 100,000 visitors! Please come see this amazing exhibition before it closes and exclusive to Brisbane. The exhibit features costumes worn by stars including Judy Garland, Grace Kelly, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Lucille Ball, Elizabeth Taylor, Bette Davis and Marlon Brando. Gloria Swanson's pink silk nightgown from Sunset Boulevard makes an appearance, as well as a two-metre wide ball gown from the 1938 film, Marie Antoinette, and swimsuits worn by Busby Berkeley synchronised swimming queen, Esther Williams. There is something for everyone!
The entrance to the exhibit and you are greeted by Gloria Swanson and a robe she wore in what would have to be her most iconic role as Norma Desmond in "Sunset Blvd". Ready for her close up!
I am beyond thrilled that so many people have taken the time to visit and enjoy the collection and to see the pieces up close and in person. Thanks to all those who have attended, have taken the time to come up and say hello and thanks also for all the amazing well wishes, emails , cards and letters.
It has been a very humbling experience and at the same time has been so amazing and wonderful for me to be able to share my treasures with the public in such an amazing exhibition.
This exhibition is titled "Costumes from the Golden Age of Hollywood" and takes visitors behind the scenes to gain a glimpse into Hollywood of the 1920s to 1960s through a collection of costumes, props and ephemera connected to the cinema's most iconic stars, studios and designers.
And I am thrilled to be doing this in my own home town.
I'm Nicholas Inglis and I have been collecting motion picture costumes and memorabilia for close to two decades.
Nicholas Inglis, Costume Collector
I have loved Hollywood and the Golden Age of film for as long as I can remember. I think it’s a family thing. I grew up watching the classics, had them discussed around me and was taught about the stars and star systems. I also have an aunt and uncle that owned a movie cinema, the Dawn theatre at Chermside and was able to see the film growing up and at a very early age. In fact it was there I saw ‘Gone With The Wind’ for the first time on the big screen. The Theatre has sadly gone but the dreams it created have remained with me.
Nicholas Inglis stands in front of some of the stars who appear in the exhibit including Grace Kelly, Joan Crawford, Susan Hayward, Ava Gardner, Myrna Loy and Norma Shearer
As a teenager I used to write to the stars and received replies with signed photos and letters. As a result I ended up collecting autographed photos and signed documents of the golden age of film. It was in 1995 that I entered the costume side of collecting. I was about 25.
It all started with a catalog of entertainment memorabilia from Christies auction house sent to me in 1995. The catalog was predominantly signed photos of the stars however the last few pages of the catalog contained screen worn costumes and props. I was enthralled at the idea of being able to own something that was used in film and worn on screen. Well I was hooked from then on and started to research and read all I could find on the history of collecting costume. Up until this time, I had no idea that you could even collect or own these kinds of treasures.
Costumes are to me, works of art. They are pieces of art to be treasured. There are so many facets that go into making a costume, from the design phase, the designer, the materials, the period of the costume, the workmanship that the final result on the screen appears effortless. I have always had a lot of respect and admiration for the costume designer and the art of costume design.
A series of costumes based on literature including 'The Good Earth', 'Little Women', 'Pride and Prejudice', 'Les Miserables', 'The Song of Bernadette' 'Jane Eyre' and "That Forsyte Woman'
In reality, costumes were not made to last. They were made for a single purpose being to dress the star in order to perform their role on the screen. After that, the role of the costume had ended. It is really because of a handful of collectors who very early on, saw the importance of these pieces as treasures and really as part of cinema history that they have been recognized and preserved. It was always the concept of a piece having been made for film, having come from the studios, having gone through the film process up to the final part of that process being its final use on the screen. In the last few years I have felt it was time to display the costumes and that perhaps this could become a reality.
I think that treasures such as these need to be enjoyed and not tucked away in their boxes. I have always urged collectors to make the effort of taking them out and putting them on display on any scale so when I was approached by the Museum of Brisbane it was like a dream come true.
This room dedicated to the movie musicals, here you can see Debbie Reynolds, Carmen Miranda. Esther Williams, Cyd Charisse and Ann Miller to name a few
Here is a television spot on the exhibit and an interview with myself and one of the amazing curators of the exhibition, Christopher Salter, Deputy Director at the Museum of Brisbane. The other curator, Dr Nadia Buick.
So lets have a look at some of the costumes in the exhibition. The first room features costumes from the Hollywood greats and those who were considered the great stars and the legends of the silver screen.
Here is Elizabeth Taylor's period costume from 'Raintree County' designed by Walter Plunkett. Visitors will also see Plunkett's original costume sketch for the gown displayed with the piece.
Elizabeth Taylor gown from "Raintree County" Designed Walter Plunkett MGM 1957
Detail of this stunning Walter Plunkett creation complete with original parasol
The first major group of gowns featuring in the exhibition pay tribute to the Hollywood legends of the 30s 40s and 50s. From Barbara Stanwyck's beautiful black gown designed by Dorothy Jeakins for "Titanic" to a beautiful period gown worn by Ava Gardner in 'The Great Sinner" made and released at MGM in 1949. Visitors are also lucky enough to be able to view the costumes on the big screen as each of the costumes are featured in a wonderful montage.
Susan Hayward (front) from 'Smash Up-Story of A Woman' designed by Travis Banton and Ava Gardner (rear) period gown from 'The Great Sinner' and designed by Irene
Claudette Colbert (front centre) from "Cleopatra" 1934 Paramount studios and designed by Travis Banton, Norma Shearer (left) black gown from 'Her Cardboard Lover" 1942 MGM and designed by Robert Kalloch
Myrna Loy robe from "I Love You Again" MGM 1940 and designed by Dolly Tree although it screams Adrian
Another photo of Norma Shearer from 'Her Cardboard Lover'
Norma Shearer wears this gown for almost the first forty minutes of the film! So beautiful!
Hollywood did not like to waste its costumes. Once Norma had her go, they put Lana Turner into it for a studio portrait. Who wore it better we ask?
Grace Kelly costume from 'The Swan' designed by Helen Rose Photo; Atmosphere Photography
Close up detail of Susan Hayward's gown from 'Smash Up-Story of a Woman"
Ava Gardner from 'The Great Sinner'
The Hollywood Greats
Joan Crawford period gown from 'The Gorgeous Hussy'1936 MGM and designed by Adrian
Grace Kelly from 'The Swan' MGM 1956 and designed by Helen Rose, Myrna Loy from 'I Love You Again" and Barbara Stanwyck from 'Titanic'
Barbara Stanwyck gown from 'Titanic'
Ava Gardner, a much loved favourite of mine. Look at the waist! Or lack thereof
A favourite of mine from the above is the period costume worn by Claudette Colbert in the 1934 Demille version of the film that saw Colbert as the Queen of the nile. Designed by Travis Banton this is just a stunner of a gown. And to have survived is nothing less that a miracle.
Claudette Colbert's exquisite design for her role as Cleopatra and designed by Travis Banton
Claudette Colbert in costume for "Cleopatra'
Barbara Stanwyck Photo: Atmosphere Photography
Myrna Loy Photo: Atmosphere Photography
Ava Gardner Photo: Atmosphere Photography
Ava Gardner on set in costume for 'The Great Sinner"
A beautiful row of costumes greets you next featuring Lucille Ball, Deborah Kerr, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Fontaine, June Allyson and Jane Russell.
Deborah Kerr ensemble from 'Tea and Sympathy' MGM 1956 and designed by Helen Rose
Jane Russell gown from "The Revolt of Mamie Stover"1956 20th Century Fox productions and designed by Travilla
June Allyson costume from 'The Glenn Miller Story" Universal Pictures 1954 and designed by Jay A Morley
Elizabeth Taylor suit from "Father's Little Dividend" MGM 1951 and designed Helen Rose
Elizabeth Taylor in costume and on set for 'Father's Little Dividend'
Carole Landis suit from the film 'Having Wonderful Crime" RKO 1945 and designed by Edward Stevenson
Joan Collins halter cocktail dress from 'Seven Thieves" 1960 20th Century Fox and designed by Bill Thomas
Lucille Ball costume from 'The Long, Long Trailer' MGM 1953 and designed by Helen Rose
Detail for the Lucille Ball dress by Helen Rose
Joan Fontaine strapless gown from the film "Born To Be Bad" RKO 1950 and designed by Hattie Carnegie
Joan Fontaine in costume for Born To Be Bad
Jane Russell from 'Revolt of Mamie Stover' Photo: Atmosphere Photography
Beautiful Jane Russell wearing her Travilla creation
As you make your way through the exhibit there is also a beautiful collection of original costume sketches throughout that I have collected over the years as well. I love these as they are not only beautiful they truly are works of art.
Orignal costume sketches
Gloria Grahame from 'The Bad and the Beautiful' MGM 1952 and designed by Helen Rose
Gloria Grahame from 'The Bad and the Beautiful' MGM 1952 and designed by Helen Rose
Walter Plunkett original costume sketch for 'Raintree County'
Natalie Wood costume sketches from 'All The Fine Young Cannibals'
The next section pays tribute to the Biblical epics. I have always been drawn to the period and biblical epics. The more over the top the better!
The Biblical epics, Yul Brynner belt from 'The Ten Commandments', Nina Foch gown from "The Ten Commandments", Gregory Peck crown from "David and Bathsheba", Susan Hayward gown from 'Demetrius and the Gladiators" and Jack Hawkins helmet from 'Ben-Hur"
I have always loved films such as 'The Ten Commandments" and the swords and sandal epics such as "The Robe", "Ben Hur" and "Demetrius and the Gladiators" I am lucky to have pieces from these film greats.
Nina Foch gown and bracelet from 'The Ten Commandments" Paramount Pictures 1956
Yul Brynner belt from 'The Ten Commandments" Paramount Pictures 1956
Susan Hayward period gown from "Demetrius and the Gladiators"
The next room takes visitors into another area I collect with a passion which is the period costume. As a collector of vintage film costume I am drawn to these period because I love the designs, the workmanship and the costumes tell a story and at the same time really just look amazing! I am also interested in the interpretation that the studios had on history and the thought process the designers and the studios placed on period costume in the context of something that would appeal to the star who wore it as well as the public.
Visitors are greeted with Elizabeth Taylor's wig from 'Cleopatra' together with Richard Burton's impressive robe from "Alexander the Great". This is followed by a selection of costumes from a film I love "Desiree" made at Fox studios in 1954 and starring Marlon Brando and Jean Simmons. Here you get to see two costumes worn by both and from the same scene.
Greta Garbo, Bette Davis, Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor
Magificent period gown worn by Anita Louise in 'Marie Antoinette' MGM 1938 and designed by Adrian
Details for Anita Louise from 'Marie Antoinette'
This next piece is just beyond incredible and visitors get a great thrill coming up to the great and elusive Greta Garbo herself and from of her most famous films 'Queen Christina' made at MGM In 1933.
Greta Garbo tunic worn in 'Queen Christina' MGM 1933 and designed by Adrian
The Divine Greta Garbo wearing the tunic from 'Queen Christina'
I love Bette Davis and this is a film favourite. Worn by her the second time she portrayed Elizabeth I. The film was "The Virgin Queen" and was made at Fox studios in 1956 and designed by Charles Le Maire.
Bette Davis in 'The Virgin Queen'
Richard Burton as 'Alexander the Great'
Marlon Brandon as The Emperor Napoleon in 'Desiree"
Jean Simmons as Desiree in 'Desiree'
I have been lucky in some instances to acquire costumes from the same films and sometimes the same scenes. I don’t think it was a conscious thing to do at first however when they started to appear at sales it became a decision to try where possible to keep these pieces together.
And here is the Brando costume as well as the Simmons as they appear in the same scene from 'Desiree'
The pieces I have from the 20th Century Fox film ‘Desiree’ for example were pieces I have bought over a number of years. I first bought the Marlon Brando gold vest for example many years ago and then the red velvet jacket that went with the vest came to sale and I was able to reunite those. I hope that one day the pants come around too.
In terms of the garments worn by the lead character ‘Desiree” I now have five Jean Simmons Desiree gowns, which I think is a remarkable thing to be able to say. When they left the studios in the 70s and 80s and were spread across the US, I don’t think there was ever the chance that they would be brought back together again unless someone made the conscious effort to do it. Over the 20 years of collecting I have managed to find the five, If another came to market again, I expect that I would try for it!
Bette Davis in 'The Virgin Queen" Photo: Atmosphere Photography
Just around the corner you are greeted with an even more amazing row of od period gowns including Lana Turner's period wedding dress from the film 'Green Dolphin Street', a period suit worn by Cary Grant in 'The Howard's of Virginia' and a Lana Turner period gown from the MGM film 'Diane'. Yes I love my period costumes!
Cary Grant period costume from 'The Howard's of Virginia'
Lana Turner period wedding dress from 'Green Dolphin Street' and designed by Walter Plunkett
Lana Turner period gown from 'Diane' and designed by Walter Plunkett
Lana Turner detail from 'Diane
Cary Grant period costume from 'The Howard's of Virgina' Photo: Atmosphere Photography
Moving along you get to say hello to Robert Taylor, Linda Darnell, Ingrid Bergman and Dame May Whittey from 'Gaslight' and next to her, Maureen O'Hara and Douglas Fairbanks Snr!
Maureen O'Hara from 'At Sword's Point", Dame May Whittey and Ingrid Berman from 'Gaslight' and Linda Darnell Period gown from 'Blackbeard the Pirate'
Greer Garson from 'That Forsyte Woman 1949', Joan Bennett from 'The Man In The Iron Mask' 1939 and Douglas Fairbanks Snr from 'The Private Lives of Don Juan' 1934
Joan Bennett from 'The Man In The Iron Mask" 1939
Douglas Fairbanks Snr from 'The Private Lives of Don Juan' 1934
Maureen O'Hara wedding dress from 'At Sword's Point'
Robert Taylor from 'The Gorgeous Hussy' 1936 MGM
Linda Darnell period gown from 'Blackbeard The Pirate'
Ingrid Bergman blouse from 'Gaslight'
Dame May Whittey period costume from 'Gaslight'
Moving along to costumes worn in films based on great literally novels. These include a beautiful green dress worn by Ann Rutherford in 'Pride and Prejudice', Orson Welles in 'Jane Eyre', Katharine Hepburn in 'Little Women' 1933 at RKO and designed by Walter Plunkett, and two costumes worn by Luise Rainer and Paul Muni in 'The Good Earth" MGM 1937.
Orson Welles jacket from 'Jane Eyre'
The literary greats
Ann Rutherford period gown from 'Pride and Prejudice; MGM 1939 and designed by Adrian
Paul Muni, Luise Rainer, Jennifer Jones and Katharine Hepburn
Greer Garson costume from 'That Forsyte Woman' MGM 1949 and designed by Walter Plunkett
Katharine Hepburn costume from 'Little Women' RKO 1933 and designed by Walter Plunkett
Jennifer Jones head dress from 'The Song of Bernadette' 20th Century Fox 1943
Luise Rainer tunic worn in 'The Good Earth'
Turn around and look up and you get to see something quite amazing. A costume worn by Fred Astaire in the famous dancing on the ceiling muscial number from 'Royal Wedding' 1951 MGM. Sit and watch the footage when you come and get to see how amazing Fred Astaire was on the screen.
Fred Astaire in 'Royal Wedding'
The final room takes visitors back to magical genre of the move musical and such a wonderful uplifting and fun room to sit it.
The Musicals Room! Sit and enjoy the fun!
I have a pair of boots that were designed for Judy Garland to be worn in the film “Annie Get Your Gun”. Garland was dismissed from the production and replaced by Betty Hutton so only the costumes and little of the original filming remains in terms of Garland and the film. I was lucky enough to pick up the boots on eBay. It was just one of those cases of right place and right time and a very unexpected treasure.
Barbra Streisand from 'Funny Girl' Photo: Atmosphere Photography
My favourite costume is a red velvet two piece costume with fox fur trim worn by Barbra Streisand in the 1968 Columbia Pictures “Funny Girl”. I love it for many reasons in terms of the design, the look, how it appears on screen and of course who wore it. The gown is amazing to look at as a collector, it is also in great condition and displays well. The gown also came direct from Ms Streisand herself when she sold many of the costume pieces she had collected over the years. The money raised from those sales went to the many charities that Barbra is associated with.
I love the MGM musicals so those pieces that are connected to that part of the studios history are special to me like the Ann Miller from “On The Town” worn in the title sequence and seeing Ann Miller in the costume dancing around legends like Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly.
Ann Miller costume from 'On The Town" MGM 1949
The other amazing musical connection I have is the red swim suit worn by Esther Williams in “Million Dollar Mermaid”. The sequence of Williams coming through the red coloured smoke has been something that stayed with me when I first watched the MGM film documentary “That’s Entertainment” so many years on it is a thrill to have been able to acquire this amazing treasure.
Esther Williams swimsuit from "Million Dollar Mermaid"
Esther Williams swimsuit from "On An Island With You"
I have a costume in the exhibit worn by Judy Garland in the 1948 MGM musical ‘Easter Parade’. It is such a wonderful film and the costume is worn in two great production numbers, the ‘Fella With An Umbrella’ song and “I love a Piano’. Whenever I watch the film I am amazed that I have such a wonderful piece from an MGM musical classic.
Leslie Caron from 'Gigi', Judy Garland from 'Easter Parade' and boots made for 'Annie Get Your Gun'
Leslie Caron costume from 'Gigi' and designed by Cecil Beaton
Ann Miller costume from 'On The Town" MGM 1949
Ethel Merman costume from 'Call Me Madam'
Jeanette MacDonald costume from 'San Francisco" MGM 1936 and designed by Adrian
Gladys Swathout lounging robe from "Romance In The Dark" Paramount 1934 and designed by Travis Banton
Julie Andrews gown from 'Darling Lili" and designed by Donald Brooks
Julie Andrews detail from 'Darling Lilli"
Betty Grable dance costume from "Three For The Show" and designed by Jean Louis
Mitzi Gaynor dance costume from "Les Girls" and designed by Orry Kelly
Mitzi Gaynor costume from 'Golden Girl" 20th Century Fox
Carmen Miranda from "Nancy Goes to Rio"
Ginger Rogers suit from "Lady In The Dark"
Cyd Charisse dance costume from 'Words and Music" MGM
Lucille Bremer dance gown from "Ziegfeld Follies"
A side view of the musicals room. There are large screens playing on a loop where you can watch the gowns in action
Debbie Reynolds dance gown from 'Give A Girl A Break'
Debbie Reynolds costume from 'Tammy and the Bachelor"
Ann Miller costume detail from 'On The Town"
Gladys Swarthout detail from 'Romance In The Dark'
Lucille Bremer detail
Rise Stevens fully beaded gown from 'The Chocolate Soldier" MGM 1940 and designed by Adrian
The Glamour Girls
Left to right Lucille Ball, Joan Collins, Joan Fontaine, Carole Landis, Elizabeth Taylor
The Bible According to Hollywood
Another little feature highlighting the exhibit.
The collectors I have met over the year’s area amazing. I have also been lucky enough to come into contact with some of the collector greats and they have been an inspiration. Those who were not only at the original sales, but those who saw the magic and importance of collecting after that time and some who continue to find, restore and preserve these treasures. Debbie Reynolds for example. It is to the collectors of yesterday who the collectors of today owe a great deal. If it weren’t for them, the majority of these treasures would no longer exist. The sad reality is that these treasures will one day be no more. Fabrics and textiles will eventually deteriorate and disappear. Mabye not in our lifetime or the next, but eventually. Until then each collector does his or her bit to preserve and conserve until it is time to pass on to the next collector.
I hope to continue to collect and preserve what I can and to continue displaying the pieces for the public to enjoy. As long as the collecting still lights a spark in me and as long as I continue to get that thrill when a new item arrives then I will keep collecting and preserving what I can. Costumes from the Golden Age of Hollywood. On now until May 24 2015!
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