Shown above, left to right: Ray Aghayan and Bob Mackie costume for Doris Day as Jennifer Nelson in The Glass Bottom Boat (1966) and Helen Rose costume for Ann Miller as Ginger in Hit The Deck (1955).

September 29 through December 22, 2019

Rodale, Scheller, and Fowler Galleries

From the late 1920s through the 1950s, the Hollywood “dream factory” produced lavish films that offered an escape from everyday reality. Designing Hollywood explores this unique era in film history, when studios fostered close partnership between actors and costume designers in bringing each character to life. Featuring more than fifty garments that range from period clothing to items from stars’ personal wardrobes, this exhibition offers a behind-the-scenes peek at the glamour of Golden Age Hollywood.

In addition to showcasing stunning costumes worn by stars like Joan Crawford, Marilyn Monroe, and Judy Garland, Designing Hollywood explores the often-overlooked contributions of costume designers. Golden Age Hollywood offered unparalleled opportunities for these designers to practice their craft. Under the studio system, they had access to substantial resources and enjoyed multiyear contracts that fostered strong working relationships with the actors they costumed. In addition to dressing stars on-screen, these designers sometimes also acted as stylists, defining the public image of American icons.

Drawing on the vast holdings of private collector Gene London, Designing Hollywood will be the first exhibition to give this significant collection of cinema costume the scholarly attention it merits. Like the Museum’s summer 2019 exhibition An Essential Presence, Designing Hollywood highlights the holdings of an important regional collector. Moreover, London is a fond and familiar figure for many adults in the Lehigh Valley: he starred in a popular children’s television show that was broadcast from 1959-1977 across the greater Philadelphia area.

Gene London passed away on January 19, 2020. Please join us in remembering Gene London.

Designing Hollywood is supported through the generosity of the Harry C. Trexler Trust, Julius and Katheryn Hommer Foundation, The Century Fund, Bernard and Audrey Berman Foundation, Leon C. and June W. Holt Endowment, Martin Guitar Charitable Foundation, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Friends of the Museum.