Since 19th July, The London Film Museum has been running an exhibition of props and costumes from 20th Century Fox movies to celebrate the studio’s 75th anniversary. Clothes on Film decided to make a visit, a bit late in the day, but we had a good look round anyway.
There were not that many costumes in the Fox exhibition (certainly considering the history of the studio), but the museum itself has plenty more to see. Just to be in the same room as some of these memorable outfits is a thrill, especially from more recent movies where memories are fresh. With this is mind, here is our pick of Fox’s lot and the best the museum has to offer:
One thing about Baz Luhrmann’s Australia, regardless of the quality of the film itself, is that the World War II era costumes are dazzling . This red bias cut silk dress designed by Catherine Martin is one of the highlight pieces of the movie. It is Chinese inspired, a ‘cheongsam’ all in one dress. There is some slight damage, a couple of pulls and is coming away slightly at the seams. Nonetheless it is gorgeous gown, and providing you have the figure, still totally wearable today.
Moulin Rouge (2001):
Catherine Martin and Angus Strathie’s costumes for hit musical remake Moulin Rouge were intended as late 19th century inspired, but with a quirky modern flavour relatable to contemporary audiences. Director Baz Luhrmann was attempting a stylistic interpretation of Paris’ famous artistic cabaret, not historical record. This mauve can-can dress on show is cute and colorful, though perhaps really needs to be moving to appreciate all those frills and layers.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009):
The costumes for X-Men Origins: Wolverine were designed by Louise Mingenbach (she also designed for X-Men and X2, but not X-Men: The Last Stand). This exhibition outfit is Wolverine’s (Hugh Jackman) X-Men uniform. It is constructed from sturdy black leather, in keeping with original X-Men director Bryan Singer’s desire for a more serviceable, practical superhero costume. What strikes most about seeing this piece up close is its sheer size. Hugh Jackson is a tall guy and he really bulked up for this role. Entry to the suit is via just one zip running up the front.
Fantastic Four (2005):
As Sue Storm, Jessica Alba’s Neoprene suit designed as by Jose Fernandez is very, very small, particularly when placed next to Hugh Jackson’s bulky Wolverine costume. It has the look of a futuristic wetsuit with claf length black leather boots. Again, though, it is tiny.
Minority Report (2002):
This grey all in one boiler suit worn by Tom Cruise was designed by Deborah Lynn Scott. It is noticeably quite small in size (sorry Tom, but next to Brad Pitt in Fight Club…). The flare in the photograph is due to a thin reflective strip running vertically across the right side. In addition to Minority Report, Lynn Scott has provided costume design for many other big Hollywood movies, including Titanic and Transformers.
Fight Club (1999):
As Tyler Durden, Brad Pitt’s wardrobe was largely thrift store bought from ‘Decades’ in Los Angeles by costume designer Michael Kaplan. This relatively ordinary seventies era leather jacket with yoke detail was one of several worn in the film. The shoes are vintage Gucci loafers, again circa 1970s. Shame Tyler’s muskrat fur coat was not there though.
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003):
The Napoleonic era British Navy coat on display was actually somewhat disappointing. It has the look of being re-worked, with flimsy braiding and a rather cheap looking finish. To be fair, however, we did only see it on a display – to touch and handle the piece would probably have made all the difference. This was Wendy Stites’ first costume credit (of only two so far).
…and here is our choice from the rest of the the museum:
Robert Downey Jr. as Charlie Chaplin’s loose fitting Chesterfield coat from Richard Attenborough’s 1992 biopic of the same name.
Also his ostrich feather bird costume, of which the boots are button fastening – nicely period authentic. Costume design by Ellen Mirojnick and John Mollo.
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne’s diving suit from The Bourne Identity (2002).
Great costume with lots of attachments, like life jacket Co2 and torch – really ‘spy like’. Plus Matt Damon is taller than you might expect. Costume design by Pierre-Yves Gayraud.
Tatar guard uniform for The Golden Compass (2007) designed by Ruth Myers.
This fur lined piece is magnificent to view up close (arguably better than it looks on film, definitely better than it looks here).
Michael Myers’ crushed velvet suit as Austin Powers from Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997) and Heather Graham’s as Felicity Shagwell in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999) suede playsuit.
Both are kept in a glass cabinet (along with the Verne Troyer’s Mini-Me ‘Mao’ jacket suit). There are lovely embroidered boots to match the playsuit, but unfortunately due to their length they could not be attached to the mannequin. Wonderful, criminally underrated costume design for all three films in the Austin Powers series by Deena Appel.
Two costumes from Eragon (2006) by Kym Barrett.
These reveal a noteworthy detail on the boots (as worn by Sienna Guillory): a zip. So prominent when examined in person, though of course not seen on film.
This cream lambswool Nehru suit worn by Peter Sellers in The Prisoner of Zenda (1979) is one of the finest costumes in the London Film Museum.
Brass buttons, gold braid – it is beautifully stitched and finished. Pity it is set behind glass, but at least you can walk around the cabinet for a proper look. Costume design by Sue Yelland.
Actual cane and bowler hat which belonged to Charlie Chaplin.
Chaplin’s costume from The Tramp (1915) was copyrighted by himself. This particular hat and cane have been authenticated by a custom’s documentation valuing them at just five cents each.
Rowan Atkinson’s green tweed jacket with leather elbow patches and leather cuff reinforcers from Mr. Bean’s Holiday (2007).
Not ‘Chaplin’ iconic but still a classic comedy silhouette from the 20th century, as originally created by Atkinson himself.
Other costumes worth seeing include Christian Bale’s Batman suit from Batman Begins (complete with cowl, and do check the codpiece – seriously), also Sacha Baron Cohen’s bright orange FUBU shellsuit from Ali G Indahouse, an unlined German greatcoat from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Billy Connolly’s kilt and tweed jacket in Mrs Brown, a huge collection of wonderful Terry English armour (mainly from Excalibur), plus many more.
The 75 years of Twentieth Century Fox exhibition runs at The London Film Museum until 30th August.
© 2010 – 2012, Christopher Laverty.