The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Tuesday, May 22, 2018

In new exhibtion at National Centre for Stage Costumes, high cost of Shakespeare costumes reflects vanity
A picture shows the costume of Lady Macbeth designed by French fashion designer Thierry Mugler for the 1985 representation of Shakespeare's "Macbeth" at the Avignon festival, displayed at the National Centre for Stage Costumes (Centre National du Costume de Scene) in Moulins, central France, on June 16, 2014, during the exhibition "Shakespeare, the stuff of the world". The exhibition, which runs from June 14, 2014 to January 4, 2015, brings together scores of costumes from over a century of Shakespearean theatrical productions. AFP PHOTO / THIERRY ZOCCOLAN.

By: Helen Rowe

MOULINS (AFP).- What would Lady Macbeth be without something extravagant in which to sweep on stage or Hamlet without a silk doublet and padded hose?

Costumes -- the unsung heroes of Shakespearean theatre -- are the stars of a new exhibition that reveals the huge effort that goes into dressing the Bard's leading men and women.

From silks woven with gold thread to baroque satin embellished with semi-precious stones, it would be understandable if subsidy-starved theatre companies tried to cut back on the cost of Shakespearean costumes.

That they do not is largely down to the vanity of Elizabethans and their obsession with fancy outfits, according to award-winning British costume designer Jenny Tiramani, three of whose costumes feature in the exhibition.

One high-necked ruff collar she made for a 2012 production of "Richard III" at London's Globe theatre cost more than $2,000 alone.

"It was the best we could do, but that price is nothing compared to the ruffs that were worn at the Elizabethan court which in our money would cost 10, 20 or even 100 times that amount," she told AFP.

The most extreme ruffs were over a foot or more wide and needed a wire frame to hold the frills in position around the neck.

"They were so elaborate it could take days for a highly-paid laundress to reset your ruff -- to wash it, starch it, carefully pin it out on a pillow to get the lace back into shape and then press it, rub it and polish it," Tiramani said.

Gemstones and silk
Other extreme shapes fashionable in the late 16th century included the wheel farthingale, a hoop-like structure around the waist that supported a voluminous skirt.

For men, the peasecod doublet was a tight-fitting jacket that was padded to create a bulge over the stomach.

The exhibition, which has just opened at the National Centre for Stage Costumes in the central French town of Moulins, brings together scores of costumes from over a century of theatrical productions.

Among the most spectacular is a gold-coloured Elizabethan gown designed by French fashion designer Thierry Mugler for a 1985 production of "Macbeth" at the Avignon Festival.

One of three Lady Macbeth costumes in the exhibition, Mugler's signature exaggerated proportions and sculptural style are given full rein in its huge box-like skirt and sleeves shaped like wings.

According to historians, the Elizabethans' love of luxury was partly due to an expanding merchant class which used clothes to signal their new wealth and status.

Preening Elizabethans
Their sartorial excess eventually became such a challenge to the existing social order that Queen Elizabeth I stepped in to try and curb it.

Concerned that it was no longer possible to identify the nobility by their clothing alone, parliament took action by updating the country's sumptuary laws.

Under the laws, individual expenditure on clothing was limited and restrictions placed on the colours and fabrics a person could wear in line with their social class.

Purple silk was strictly for royalty while dukes and earls could use it only on certain items such as a doublet, a buttoned jacket, or hose, later called stockings.

Even the length of the points on men's shoes was regulated to show who was noble and who wasn't -- two-and-a-half times the length of the foot for a duke, half the length for a common man.

But Tiramani, who earlier this month won the 2014 Tony award for her costumes for the Globe's "Twelfth Night", said the laws had limited effect.

"There are cases recorded of people flouting the laws and being punished for it but I wouldn't say they were extremely effective. Certainly it was many years since the last person had been executed, for example, for wearing purple!" she said.

"People wanted to show as much fabric as they possibly could to signal wealth, it was a society absolutely obsessed with status," she added.

The show runs until early January at the museum, about a three-hour train ride from Paris. Opened in 2006 in a restored 18th-century cavalry, the Centre bills itself as the world's only venue dedicated to the heritage of live entertainment, with more than 8,000 costumes and accessories, including a permanent exhibition dedicated to the late ballet icon Rudolf Nureyev of items donated by the Nureyev Foundation.

© 1994-2014 Agence France-Presse

Today's News

June 23, 2014

Christie's sale in London to offer important group of works by Alberto Giacometti

Art Basel: Outstanding quality attracts private collectors and museum groups from around the world

Whitechapel Gallery and Tate Modern announce a major collaboration celebrating artist Richard Tuttle

Tens of thousands gather at Britain's Stonehenge for solstice at dawn on Saturday

French cave home to earliest drawings wins UN cultural agency UNESCO's World Heritage status

Smithsonian team of digital imaging specialists scans President Obama in 3-D for presidential portrait

In new exhibtion at National Centre for Stage Costumes, high cost of Shakespeare costumes reflects vanity

'Looted' Nigerian art returned to traditional ruler Uku Akpolokpolo Erediauwa I

First comprehensive exhibition of Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies' collections opens

"Cries in the Night: German Expressionist Prints around World War I" opens at the Cincinnati Art Museum

Taiwan's first lady postpones Japan visit over wording of posters promoting exhibition row

Sun Stroke: Miles Ladin's first solo exhibition with Station Independent Projects opens in New York

National Gallery Singapore announces first-ever docudrama on Georgette Chen

Exhibition of new photographs, sculptures and installations by Awol Erizku opens at Hasted Kraeutler

The Unreliable Narrator: Karen Mirza and Brad Butler exhibit at waterside contemporary

Eduardo Momeñe: "Photographies in a certain Space" (1978-2014) on view at Espaciofoto Gallery, Madrid

Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions announces July Interiors Sale

Exhibition of works by Su Xiaobai on view at Almine Rech Gallery, Paris

Art Gallery of Ontario celebrates WorldPride 2014 Toronto with exhibition of queer photography

Elmhurst Art Museum presents "Lifeloggers: Chronicling the Everyday"

The Importance of Being Earnest given by Oscar Wilde to the Governor of Reading Gaol sells at Bonhams

Voyeur: A group show curated by Dina Brodsky opens at Lyons Wier Gallery

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- Boy and an amateur archaeologist unearth legendary Danish king's trove in Germany

2.- Exhibition at The Met illustrates what visitors encountered at The palace of Versailles

3.- Philadelphia Museum of Art opens "Modern Times: American Art 1910-1950"

4.- Exhibition at Michael Hoppen Gallery presents a cross-section of works from Thomas Mailaender's career

5.- New York's Chelsea Hotel celebrity door auction raises $400,000

6.- Stevie Ray Vaughan's first guitar drives Entertainment & Music Memorabilia Auction to nearly $2.9 million

7.- Lichtenstein's Nude with Blue Hair tops $2.4 million sale of Modern & Contemporary Prints & Multiples

8.- $6.7 million Fancy Intense Blue Diamond sets auction record at Sotheby's New York

9.- Mexico court blocks sales of controversial Frida Kahlo Barbie doll

10.- Dutch museums to conduct new research on the paintings of Pieter de Hooch

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful