Saturday, December 28, 2013

VMFA "Hollywood Costume" Exhibit

On December 14, 2013, I attended the Hollywood Costume exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. I had been looking forward to this show for almost a year only to move out of town a week before it opened. Then, when the scheduled day finally came, I ended up feeling ill and almost canceling (if I had not had people expecting me to be there.) I'm glad I went after all (we had our tickets changed from 10am to 11am after I was over 20 minutes late!*
Funny Girl

The exhibit, on loan from the Victoria & Albert (V&A) Museum in London, England, explored the important role that costume design plays in character and story development. This particular show differed from the private collection I saw at the James L. Michener museum in Pennsylvania a few years ago, in the fact, that the majority of costumes were more modern. The most represented decades were the 80-90s. However, I was not disappointed.

The exhibit was arranged into small themed sections, complete with movie soundtracks, still shots of the costumes on actors, and film clips. Also present were video interviews with directors, actors, and costume designers, such as Tim Burton, Meryl Streep, and designer Sandy Powell.

A few costumes that caught my eye because of their details:
  • Marilyn Monroe's The Seven Year Itch dress, though copied many times, I was still surprised to see the crossed straps and tied bow detail on the midriff waistband. I had not seen many of the replicas include that detail.
  • Johnny Depp's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street ensemble with a worn waxed cloth jacket with wide, strangely high breastbone pockets (I suppose made for his razors)
  • Sandy Powell's costume for Daniel Day-Lewis in Gangs of New York a perfect example of distressed clothing, no lining, and with no finishing except a zigzag stitch.

There were three costumes I was pleasantly surprised to see, from three of my favorite movies, a cozy green secretary ensemble from Vertigo (1957), a purple sequin and silk flower covered 1930s-inspired frock from Funny Girl (1968) and an exquisite hippy-chic wedding gown from Camelot**(1967).

*Sorry, Audrey!
** Expect to read more about the costumes from this movie soon.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Update: Counting Down The Year

Wow, last time I wrote was almost a month ago. Here is what has happened:
  • I had my first eye exam in four years at America's Best and ordered two pairs of glasses. I hope they turn out cool enough that I no longer feel like an old-school librarian when they're on. Nothing wrong with librarians, some of my best friends are librarians. However, I think of the old stereotype, tight bun, horn-rimmed glasses, pursed lips, and most likely a bitter old maid.
  • I had the internet enabled in the house via Cox Cable, bought a USB wireless adapter at Wal-Mart, returned it after ordering a much better and cheaper one over the Internet, and just ordered 1 GB of memory. Hopefully, after install, searching the web won't take as long as it does now.
  • I am working on my next sewing project, which will give me 12 finished projects for 2013. I even challenged myself because it involves stripe matching in chevrons!
  • Downloaded eight Burdastyle patterns that I wanted from the 10/2012 issue via the new North American version of the magazine. All of them are from the only issue that I've felt was worth the international expense because of the ratio of me-style patterns inside.
  • Had my hair cut short at my Dad's barber shop. It now looks better than my prior self-done haircuts.
  • Helped my dad out with raking the leaves in our large yard. Hard, sweaty work that I did not like when in the middle of it, but love the feeling afterwards. I guess I should exercise more often, huh?
  • Attended the Virginia Museum of Fine Art's Hollywood Costume exhibition on December 14. Unfortunately, I was ill and arrived late but they graciously changed the time of our tickets. It was worth it to me. There were not as many vintage iconic costumes as my last costume exhibit but there were many surprises in this V&A museum show from London, including costumes from Tim Burton and Martin Scorsese movies. I also loved the addition of director, star, and costume designer video interviews.
  • That same weekend, I attended a performance of Mulan put on by the students of Richmond's Fox Elementary school. I have attended all of the performances that my friend's children have participated in and have had a blast. What a great Richmond public school and what a fabulous school program.

I am looking forward to a fun, educational, and prosperous 2014 next year!

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Book Review: Wordbirds by Liesl Schillinger

A few weeks before my big move, Simon & Schuster sent me a newly published book, Wordbirds: An Irreverent Lexicon for the 21st Century (2013) by Liesl Schillinger and illustrated by Eliza Zechel. The book is a little over 200 pages.

It is written as a dictionary, complete with phonetic transcription and part of speech, that examines the concept of Wordbirds = word combinations creating a new word with a new meaning and then illustrated by a bird-related image. The images are delicate and in the cataloging style of bird watching journals

Goods one such as:
  • Hyperscentilate (v.) To apply too much perfume, surrounding yourself in a thick, aromatic mist that causes people to choke, sneeze, and cough, (p. 8).
  • Shoeicide (n.) The act of destroying your feet by deliberately wearing shoes you suspect or know to be excruciatingly painful, usually out of vanity, (p. 15).
  • Tyrannitot (n.) Child who is permitted (or encouraged) to dominate adult social gatherings and indulge its whims in all particulars, (p.164).

Personally, as a person who talks about my love of dogs and how I want one so bad, yet still have not brought one home, I feel a deep affection for Dawgle (p. 148) and Procrastidate (p. 119) having used my returning to school later in life as an excuse to put off dating. Other great words to check out would be invipaytion (p.45), polterguy (p. 118), phonedeaf (p. 98), and the highly accurate GP-Ass (p.175).

Until I selected the above list of words I had not realized how many of these could easily be used in conversation. Knowing that the book originated from the Ms. Schillinger’s popular tumbler site, I wonder now how many of these have already entered the modern vocabulary.

I find the words and definitions clever and enjoyable; however, I am less a fan of these particular illustrations. While they are definitely gorgeous and finely detailed, the style seems at odds with the youth and irreverence of the text.

I see the images more suited for a tome of poetry or a novel. If I had read the text alone, I would have suggested something younger in feel, a bit less realistic with more whimsy and humor. The text is the most important element. However, the images are what gave the book its title…Wordbirds; therefore, they are an intractable part of the project. Therefore, my suggestions about the ornithology images are moot and just my humble opinion.

Overall, I can see this book as a great holiday gift for someone with a keen sense of humor.

Illustrations: Eliza Zechel