Thursday, 18 October 2012
Hollywood Costume opened last night at the V&A.
It is excellent, well worth a visit and quite magical seeing the likes of Charles D Hall's Charlie Chaplin costume right there, still full of life and holding its own beside the big guns of modern cinema.
The exhibition is clear and informative about the process we go through to achieve a character but, chatting to Jacqueline Durran on the way round, we agreed there is rarely a mention of the amount of things that happen purely by accident or as an on-the-spot solution to a particular problem which end up being considered 'iconic'.
Often we are flying around in a mad panic, up against a crazy schedule, and the result of the smash and grab can look like genius.
Maybe that's it.
I have found that when my research is thorough and I know the script backwards, decisions I've made on instinct in the heat of the moment are better than solutions I could have arrived at given a month to think.
There's a great quote beside the Darth Vadar costume which captures some of this brilliantly -
'For Darth Vadar', designer John Mollo said, 'we put on a black motorcycle suit, a Nazi helmet, a gas mask and a monk's cloak that we found in the middle-ages department.'
Rummaging around a costume house with no definite idea of what we are after, just an open mind and a strong sense of character, can provide the answers.