Last night, Digital Spy went to the Victoria and Albert Museum for a special night at the Hollywood Costume exhibition.
Neatly split into three "Acts" (rooms), the exhibition sidesteps the potential problems in looking at film from a purely chronological perspective.
Act I is Deconstruction, where the research into making the character true is key. We hear about Harrison Ford and his costume designer busting up Indy's leather jacket with a pocket knife and steel wool. We see "Jack" and Tyler Durden's wildly contrasting duality in Fight Club.
We're told time and again that there is a lot more to the truth of a movie costume than classic "period" outfits. A point proved when we see The Big Lebowski's Dude transposed into unlikely situations.
That said, an early peak in the exhibition comes with an array of queens. The reason for the changing outfits is not about new knowledge of Elizabethan dress inspiring differing slavish reproductions. More important is the shifting audience expectations of the present being transposed onto the costume.
Act II is Dialogue, and we explore the interplay between directors and their costume designers. After a look at the changes brought by both colour and sound and a brief detour into animation and mo-cap (where costume still plays a key role) we get two acting greats in Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro.
A clutch of De Niro's outfits show both the importance of the costume designer and the star's own alchemy in creating a character.
Rupert Pupkin's garish get-up, Travis Bickle's NY shlock, Sam Rothstein's dusty pink suit and Jake La Motta's boxing shorts. They're all great individual outfits, but it's almost impossible to imagine the same man in each one. De Niro and Martin Scorsese's interplay with what is otherwise just fancy threads is of course what makes them real.
Act III is a kitchen sink finale. When you've got exhibits this good, you don't need much in the way of curation, and it works as a tableau of Hollywood history.
The Bride from Kill Bill leaps in bullet time away from Neo from The Matrix. Catherine Tramell keeps her legs crossed while Roxie Hart looks on.
Superheroes Batman, Spider-Man, Catwoman and Superman have their own vantage points above the action, looking on at the swirling timecrash below. At the end we make our way home after a glimpse, of course, of Dorothy's famous ruby slippers. Silver shoes in L. Frank Baum's book - the colour was changed to take advantage of stunning Technicolor.
Not only did we get to see a century of iconic costumes (all lent by stars, private collectors and other museums), with the evening being thrown by MasterCard's Priceless London programme there were some added extras.
The everlong queue for screen-printed T-shirts could have been a bit better-run, but we still partied like movie stars with fizz, nibbles, and a special if somewhat bizarre dance performance from Dorothy and her Scarecrow buddy.
Hollywood Costume runs at the V&A until January 27, 2013. Opening times are 10am-5.45pm daily and 10am-10pm on Fridays. General Admission tickets are priced at £14 with £1.40 booking fee per ticket.
MasterCard's Priceless London programme offers all MasterCard cardholders that register on Priceless London exclusive experiences and privileged access to the very best of music, theatres, museums, restaurants, retail, sport and attractions.