Starstruck in Cathedral - Costume Exhibition in Worcester, UK
- Skip this part if you're here for the photos only - scroll down -
This exhibit took place from August 15th - September 6th 2009 in the cathedral of Worcester, UK. The website advertising sounded
great (they've taken it down now unfortunately, but here is the link anyway: Worcester Cathedral) - they were going to display
costumes from all kinds of movies, but the ones that were of main interest to me were The Duchess, Elizabeth - The golden Age,
Shakespeare in Love, of course Pirates of the Caribbean, Frankenstein, and Ever After.
So, after trying to e-mail them and finding out that the e-mail address on the website was wrong, I finally ordered my tickets in
advance via telephone (thanks to the nice lady on whose nerves I got). I also booked tickets for a lecture/workshop called 'Beauty
and the beast' where they were going to show make up, prosthetics and wig tricks. There were so many more interesting workshops
including one 'Dressing an Elizabethan Lady', but unfortunately, due to my work schedule, I couldn't book any of these.
I was lucky enough to get tickets for the 15th, the opening day (and the day after, which was good, as you'll see later). So, when I
got to Worcester one day before, on the14th, the first thing I did was walking straight down to the cathedral to see whether I could catch
a first glimpse.
Until then,I had no idea whether photography was going to be allowed or not . Thus, I had brought two cameras - my small digtial pocket
camera, which makes decent photos but has no great zoom function; and my friends' digital SLR. On the eve of the 14th, I took along the
small one, just in case I had to snap pics from out of the pocket.
I stumbled right in on the opening ceremony with someone holding a speech and I was almost expecting
to be thrown out right away, but surprisingly, no one took any notice of me and I was able to snap the first
few pictures of the Frankenstein Wedding Gown, which was the first down the row next to the entrance.
Happy with my booty, I walked back to the hotel and returned the next day, armed with the small
camera as I still didn't know whether photos were okay. The lady at the entrance was quite excited about
us being the first pre-booked customers this day, and that we had come "all the way from Germany just
to see this??".
This was spreading quickly and so we became sort of the 'stars' among the organizers who, apparently, were quite happy that
the exhibition attracted people even from other countries.
As I was to find out, photos were allowed *and* you could actually walk up close to each and every costume. There were no limi-
tations whatsoever, except in the 'Royals' and the 'Shakespeare' displays, where you weren't allowed to walk up the stairs (how-
ever, this was more for the safety of the visitors than of the costumes, as was explained to me). It was forbidden to touch the
costumes - which I think is just fine - and the stewards kept a close watch on that; however I still saw people lifting the skirt of
the Phantom of the Opera gown and shaking it like some old bedclothes; and one girl rubbed over the belly of the Portrait of a
The stewards, who were all recruited from 'normal' townsfolk, were very friendly throughout. They tried to answer every question,
and if there was one they couldn't answer, they'd go and ask someone else and then come back to me. This was a really nice
experience as normally, exhibition staff is not to be counted among the friendliest in the world.
So, the display started to the left of the entrance with an aisle labelled "The Wedding". As I found out later, each display was lighted separately for a certain amount of time, while they played music that correlated with it (in this
case, "Wedding March" from Midsummer Night's Dream; "Another Dance" and "A postcard to Henry
Purcell" from Pride & Prejudice; "Sentimental Journey" from Mansfield Park and "Patients" from
Sense and Sensibility).
The wedding display, starting with the Frankenstein gown, was one of my absolute favourites, and I
should mention here that the arrangement of the costumes and the lighting was superb - not only in
this display but in the others as well, just that the wedding display was the one where you could actually see all the work best.
White dresses are a canvas for a light designer ;-)
Next was "The Tea Party" containing three flapper-style dresses from Finding Neverland, Gosford
Park and The Secret Garden, all of which were beautiful.
The "Royal" display was next, and this was my second favourite where I guess I spent most time.
The music ("Opening" and "Storm" from Elizabeth Golden Age and "The De Lesseps' Dance" from
Shakespeare in Love were perfectly chosen for this.
The main aisle of the cathedral - which is a beautiful building by itself and well worth a visit, despite of
it being such a lovely backdrop to the costumes - was dedicated to the largest display called "The red carpet". This was were all
the gowns from recent (and not so recent) Hollywood movies were gathered, including Ever After, Dangerous Liasions, The Prestige
At the end of the main aisle and thus at the opposite end of the "Royals", an entire section was devoted to "Shakespeare"
and featured theatrical costumes only, some of which have been worn by illustrious people such as Vivien Leigh, Richard
Burton, Kenneth Branagh, Helen Mirren, Glenda Jackson or Jonathan Pryce. My favourite among them was the Titania dress
from Midsummer Night's Dream.
Next in the line were the "Action heroes" which were three costumes only: Will and Jack from Pirates of the Caribbean and
Ben Kingsley's kimono from Thunderbirds. Naturally, since being a Sparrow costumer myself, I spent lots of time here.
Please scroll down for an observation about the PotC costumes if you're interested.
Last but not least, there was a series of costumes from the Robin Hood BBC series from 2006. I did not take many pics of
these as they looked rather modern to me and I was running out of time, but having Robin Hood present in the cathedral
that also houses the tomb of (the actual) Prince John is quite amusing, I think.
So, this first day I had set to take pictures of the fronts of the costumes only and, skipping Shakespeare for this day, I was
going to return on the 16th with the SRL camera in order to take pics of all the backs (which are, in most cases, far more interes-
ting than the fronts). I actually kept to that plan quite well, although I took a few more of the Royals using my nifty 50'' zoom.
That's also why some pics apparently are better quality and sharper than others as the SRL just makes better pics.
Still, I almost ran out of time, considering the fact that my mother wanted to leave in time to do a little shopping (and she really
knows the cathedral interior and all the costumes by heart now...).
By the time we left, I had already aquired the status of being a German fashion designer (which I never said of myself) and
staff was actually asking me for my website address and copies of the photos I'd taken. Geez...
On the whole, the exhibit was well worth the trip as it was well organized, well staffed; food & drinks were excellent and prices
surprisingly cheap. There is even a catalogue; something you can't take for granted even in bigger museum exhibits. It cost only £5 and is superbly illustrated. The setting was just beautiful and the city of Worcester itself is a nice little place to spend a day or two, considering that they have a large history relating to the Tudor age (there is an original Tudor house where, on special days, you can even meet His Majesty, King Henry VIII. of England and his....I-don't-know-what-number wife).
So, without further ado, here are the 1800+ photos I took of the costumes.....
Continue to my Photobucket (use navigation on the left).
This is about the best scan I can manage of the exhibition plan - click to see which costume was placed where.
Updated galleries from the Starstruck in Cathedral exhibit
House of mirth
Out of Africa
Phantom of the opera
Portrait of a lady
Pirates of the Caribbean
The white Countess
A word about the watermarks.
I love sharing my pictures with everyone - that's what this site is for. However, since there are repeated cases where people just
take images and post them anywhere on the net without credit - or even as their own - I feel it is necessary to clearly mark images
that I have personally taken with my camera. I mean - I've paid the flight, I took along the camera, I spent a lot of time getting
light and flash and settings and everything right (okay, there are some pics that are not good quality - but still). I am willing to share
my work, but what I want in return is not a big thing: a quick mentioning of my name/site or a link to here. Should be no trouble, eh? ;-)
Since I have made a Jack Sparrow costume myself and have been in touch with some of the 'nastier' sides of the PotC costume
scene, I felt it especially necessary to strongly mark the PotC images of Will's and Jack's clothes - meaning, there's not a little logo
somewhere in the corner but a big URL right across the picture. I hate to do that since I know how annoying that can be, but I'm afraid
this is the only way of protecting my images.
If you want any of these pictures without the logo/watermark, please e-mail me. I'll be happy to mail you the original version without
any printmarks on it, but I want to know where my pics are going ~ thanks :-)
Also, if you'd like to have all the images from the exhibition but downloading them all is to cumbersome, please
contact me. I'll happily post an image DVD with more than 2000 pics to you for a small postage fee.
My personal exhibition highlights
Elizabeth (Helen Mirren)
Elizabeth (Cate Blanchett)
Speaking of the PotC costumes....
I don't know what has happened in the exhibit, but the PotC costumes were NOT the original ones from the movie. I know there were
several versions and stunt costumes and all, but that's not what I mean.
For example the Jack Sparrow costume - nothing that was on the mannequin in the exhibit appears like that in the films, except the vest
and the coat. They displayed the wrong boots - black leather ones instead of chocolate or sand brown suede ones - although the 'New
World' costume sported some boots that looked a lot like the original Sparrow ones to me, so maybe something got mixed up. It happens.
However, there were also the wrong breeches. The ones here were pepper-and-salt-colored with wooden buttons (which I know exactly
as I've made a very very rare exception and touched the costume, pulling back the vest in order to see the front flap of the breeches). These
breeches do also have a drawstring at the kneew whereas the screen used ones have a kneeband with a buckle and so-called 'silversmith'
metal buttons at the flap and knees. Also, the screen used ones are blue [film 1] and brown/olive [film 2 & 3].
There's a wrong shirt - machine stitches are visible everywhere and it lacks the cord with a tassel at the neck. It also has a wrist ruffle that
Jack's original shirt does not have, it has plain rounded cuffs with a button-hole and a button instead.
There was a totally different sash (some mixed up colors instead of white with red stripes) and one - wrong - belt instead of two; all the
little tidbits were missing and the hat was so abominable that I didn't even take a picture of it. It was a deformed black felt something that
might have been a tricorn in a former life, but not Jack's distinctive leather tricorn.
So, in any case, the only reference that the images are good for is the coat and the vest. Those looked reliable to me.
It's the same in Will's case, though there's not that much wrong. The costume has already been displayed in former exhibtions, although the
knee-high boots are definitely not going with it in the movie. He's wearing soft leather slippers in that scene (film 1, the smithy). Also, the belt
is incorrect. It's nice to see the piece of fabric he has tied around his neck though.
I really don't know what happened. The catalogue says some costumes were rented from Cosprop, the London costume company who actually
did some of the costumes for PotC. Maybe they were lacking some pieces there as they'd been given away or auctioned off (I remember that
someplace [in the DVD extras?], one of the stuntmen said they were actually given their costumes after principal photography had ended) and
so Cosprop just replaced the missing pieces by others? These 'wrong' costumes have been in several exhibits ever since the release of
At world's end, I wonder why nobody has noticed yet...
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