Among the Theatre and Performance collections there are over 3,500 stage costumes and accessories - ranging from complete outfits to individual headdresses. All are a tribute to the creativity and skills of designers and costume makers from the mid 18th century to today, in every kind of live performance - drama, opera, dance, musicals, pantomime, rock and pop, music hall, cabaret, circus.
Materials and Colour in Costume Design
Theatrical costumes do not have to use expensive materials to create the illusion of grandeur. In the 18th century materials were stiffened with paper, and tinsel became decoration. Jewels were glass backed with cardboard. Since the 1930s, makers have used everything from industrial products to household objects.
Cut and Structure in Stage Costume
Designs are an evocation of a costume and not a detailed pattern of cut and seaming, so working out the structure is the job for an expert. Some costumiers make patterns and construct toiles. Others cut directly into the cloth. It is not enough to follow measurements without taking into account the movements the performer has to make and ensuring that he is comfortable.
Born William Charles Pitcher in England, 1858, Wilhelm was one of the most prolific stage designers of his day. He worked on nearly 200 productions including pantomimes, musical comedy, Shakespeare, burlesques, ballets, light opera and plays, and raised the standards of design in popular theatre.
Biography of Léon Bakst
Overview of the life and work of revolutionary stage designer and artist, Leon Bakst. Born in Russia in 1866, Bakst belonged to that young generation of European artists who rebelled against 19th century stage realism, which had become pedantic and literal, without imagination or theatricality.
The Actor and the Maker: Ellen Terry and Alice Comyns-Carr
The greatest English actress of the late 19th and early 20th century, Ellen Terry, excercised a great deal of control over what she wore on stage. She was leading lady to the legendary Actor-manager Henry Irving, at the Lyceum Theatre from 1878 to 1902 and during this period, she devised many of her own costumes.
Interview with Lez Brotherston, Costume Designer
Lez Brotherston is one of the UK’s most dynamic and innovative designers, working extensively in dance, theatre, opera, musicals and film. Best-known for his work with Matthew Bourne and the dance company 'Adventures in Motion Pictures', for which he designed the award-winning ‘Swan Lake’, In 2008 the V&A interviewed Lez about his working process and the issues he encounters as a production designer.
Closed Exhibition – Hollywood Costume
20 October 2012 - 27 January 2013. Hollywood Costume explored the central role costume design plays in cinema storytelling. Bringing together over 100 of the most iconic movie costumes from across a century of film-making, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the clothes worn by unforgettable and beloved characters such as Dorothy Gale, Indiana Jones, Scarlett O'Hara, Jack Sparrow, Holly Golightly and Darth Vader.
Theatre & Performance
The Theatre and Performance collection was founded in the 1920s when a private collector, Gabrielle Enthoven, donated her extensive collection of theatrical designs, memorabilia, books and photographs to the Museum. Since then the collection has continued to grow and has provided a home for many other significant objects and archives. All areas of the live performing arts are represented in the collections, documenting both current practice and the history of the performing arts in the UK.
Spanning four centuries, the V&A’s Fashion collection is the largest and most comprehensive collection of dress in the world. Key items in the collection include rare 17th-century gowns, 18th-century ‘mantua’ dresses, 1930s eveningwear, 1960s daywear and post-war couture. Plus a growing number of pieces from 21st-century designers.