Thursday, April 15, 2010

Exhibition; Madonna costumes

Yesterday my daughter and I went into the city and viewed the exhibition of Madonna costumes currently on show.  Unfortunately I had done a bit of research before going in and was disappointed to see that the Perth exhibition was a bit pathetic compared to the "same" collection that was shown in London... I guess they assumed Perth people were not internet savvy enough to check out what was happening internationally and even if so that we were too dumb to notice that we were only going to see about half the exhibits... a typical attitude towards Australians, I've noticed...  
Anyhoo, about the clothes themselves...  I loved the whole exhibition but I won't post all of my pictures here, but just review the few that I liked the most.
I was very excited about seeing some of these exhibits.  I was especially looking forward to seeing some of the Jean Paul Gaultier offerings as I know he's designed for Madonna for years.  I've been mesmerised by JPG ever since seeing watching "the Fifth Element" and being blown away by the costumes.  And well, everything else in the movie really.  Even now years later I still adore simply everything about that movie.  It comes as close to a perfect movie as you can get, I reckon.  Except for the ending, which is a tiny bit sappy.  The JPG items in this exhibition did not disappoint.  Look at the precision stitching on these corsets!  My photos may not be good enough to view the closer stitching details, if so please take it from me the stitching is superb and I was impressed.  Of course these garments are stage costumes, so I was interested to note that there were make-up stains on the edging of the bust cones on the cream corset.  When I had viewed these on the internet earlier I had noticed the same make-up stains from photos of the exhibition in London.  It just goes to show; satin is a bummer to launder, even defeating professionals with museum-standard cleaning skills...
It was fantastic to see this magnificent jewelled gown; the "Inaugural" gown from the movie "Evita".  Look at the detail of this beading.  Tres magnifique, no?  However, I did cast a critical eye over that hemline.  Now I know this is a vintage garment.  My research has unearthed that it was originally made for an actress/dancer called Carol Lawrence, but I can find no other details on this gown; its maker, its year of construction or its lifetime, except that it was also worn by Daryl Hannah to meet the Queen!  For all I know it has endured a tough life on stage and screen and is thus naturally showing the signs of wear, but still...  What I know about garment preservation and restoration could fit on a postage stamp with room to spare, but I still can't help feeling that perhaps not much is being done to maintain this gown in good condition.  Any seamstress worth her salt would curl up and die before sending a hemline like that out for people to look at.  However, nit-picking aside this is one magnificent dress and you don't see workmanship like that beaded bodice every day...
The Material Girl dress was lovely.  Again, there are no details on the internet about the maker of this dress, which appears to have been a dress for rent when it was used by Madonna for her video, and was subsequently rented out several other times to other people before it was purchased for this collection.  I couldn't help it, (I'm such a dreamer!) but this fact inspired a little fantasy in my imagination.  Just imagine, this gown being made by some little amateur seamstress such as myself for some special occasion.  With a firm vision in her head and surrounded by hot pink satin she toils over her sewing machine for a few days.  She finishes her creation, wears it and basks in her man's admiration for an evening.  Special occasion over and having no further use for it, she sends it off to the rental shop.  The wardrobe mistress for a little known singer steps in to the store one day, fate happens, and without the anonymous lady's knowledge or intervention her lolly-pink creation becomes an international sensation, viewed and admired by thousands...  a Cinderella story for a gown?  Why not?

Now to the Versace outfit.  This outfit is very rock star, and tres chic and I'm a big fan of the all-cream look, but this is not an exciting outfit from a seamstress' point of view.  Again, look at those hemlines?!  To my eye they look extremely wonky and skewiff.  However I obviously didn't get a chance to inspect more closely (no touching allowed!) and maybe the pants were just hanging funny on the mannequin.  Again, these are stage costumes and perhaps have seen a bit of hard wearing in their day.  Those huge glittery gold belt buckles are to die for and give the whole ensemble a splash of OTT, 70's, pimp-inspired bling.  I loved it.

In my own sewing news, I have recently woken up to the fact that my husband and I are attending a ball in just over two weeks!  Panic stations!  I bought this fabric about ten days ago, just BT (before trek) and gave it some thought DT (during trek).  I want to make something inspired by this beauty by Carolina Herrera, but fuller and more busty, and with no sleeve, but shoulder straps, and with the skirt more open and layered...  yeah, OK, I'm envisioning something quite different so I guess it's the colour scheme that's inspiring me here and not so much the design of this gown.  Not being much of a drawer I can't show you any sketches, at least not any that won't make you fall about laughing.  I'm thinking of making a separate red petticoat with red velvet bodice with velvet ribbon straps and a full red silk skirt, and with the cream/black fabric as a separate strapless overdress with a tight waist and a boned bodice.  Any thoughts?  I'm making a start tonight and will keep you posted on progress...  Wish me luck!
Photo above from Carolina Herrera, Fall 2010


  1. Bloody hell, you know I didn't even know there was a Madonna exhibition on!

    I went to the see exhibition of Kylie costumes when it was in Sydney and I was really surprised about the poor quality of the garments! I suppose they don't really have to worry about what things look like up close because you can't pick up those sorts of details on TV/on stage.

    Meanwhile... that Carolina Herrera dress is STUNNING. SERIOUSLY stunning. Where did you get that beautiful velvet from?? And that gorrrrrrrgeous cream and white print????

    Can't wait to see it!

  2. Both fabrics seem to be beautiful, can't wait for the dress!

  3. your ballgown ideas sound fantastic! I love the colours you chose. I agree about the hemlines.You would think that they we at least press them!

  4. wow, I'm eager to see the dress too ...!!

  5. I would have loved to have gone to see this exhibit. How fun.

  6. Your fabrics look beautiful and the dress you have planned sounds pretty amazing. I know it will be awesome and look forward to seeing it all made up.

    Love the beading on the dress and it would be nice if your story about the lolly pink dress were true :) I like it!

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