Behind the Seams exhibit at Preston Park Museum

Behind the Seams exhibit at Preston Park Museum

We were invited to Preston Park Museum to see their new Behind the Seams exhibit for the purposes of this review.

Behind the Seams provides a glimpse into the world of costume design and explores the story behind Angels Costumes, the world’s greatest costume house.

You can see original and replica costumes created for some of the best Hollywood and TV blockbusters – including Game of Thrones, Peaky Blinders, The Crown, Bohemian Rhapsody, Downton Abbey, Poldark, Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Shakespeare in Love, Memoirs of a Geisha, Cleopatra and Titanic.

The work that has gone into these costumes is phenomenal. It’s no wonder that Angels have won 36 Oscars for the quality of their work. Check out this book if you want to read more and you’re not able to visit Preston Park (or even if you are and want to see more of their work!)

The brilliant costume from Shakespeare in Love, worn by Judi Dench and created by Sandy Powell was so ornately decorated. We learned that it weighs 15kg, and was one of many that won Sandy an Oscar for Best Costume Design. She’s worked on the latest Mary Poppins movie, too, so look out for brilliance if you get a chance to see that film soon.

Perhaps the most extraordinary costumes Powell was to create were for Queen Elizabeth…Though her dresses and headwear appear almost surreally ostentatious–lumed with such finery as peacock feathers–Powell explains that this is one of those situations where fact is stranger than fantasy. “Queen Elizabeth apparently had over a thousand dresses–all hugely flamboyant and over-the-top–she basically carried all her wealth on her frocks, so they were literally piled high with jewels,” she says. “She is also over 60 in this film, so I’m just presuming she has gone a little bit nuts. She was such an outrageous historical figure, we allowed ourselves to go completely mad.”

Miramax Press Info – Shakespeare in Love

You can see costumes from well established TV programmes, like Game of Thrones, or Downton Abbey, as well as newer movies like Bohemian Rhapsody, and some that haven’t even come out yet, like Dumbo, and Stan and Ollie.

costumes from the movie stan and ollie

The accompanying guide book is really worth buying as it has extra information about each of the costumes in the exhibit. Without it we would not have understood why the writing is backwards on the costumes in the Titanic plinths – apparently everything in the scene at Southampton Pier was filmed in ‘mirror image’ reverse. This meant that all the writing on the characters’ clothing had to be written backwards so that it would appear the right way around when the image was reversed. You can see that this jumper – worn by the crew on the Titanic – had the words ‘ENIL RATS ETIHW’ written on them, so they would read ‘WHITE STAR LINE’, the name of the company who ran the ship’s route from England to America.

Game of thrones costume at preston park museum behind the seams

We also learned that the cape worn on Game of Thrones is actually an IKEA rug. You can see the IKEA instructions of how to make your own in the guide book, and hear more about the making of the costumes on GoT in this YouTube video. I’ve set it to start at the moment Michele Clapton, costume designer for the first five seasons of Game of Thrones, is talking about the IKEA hack for the capes, but the whole video is so interesting and informative!

My favourite costume of the whole exhibit was the rather (comparatively-speaking) plain costume from Gigi. The waist was just so tiny, and I couldn’t see how it would be fastened. I don’t know if the dress in the Preston Park museum Behind the Seams exhibit is one of Leslie Caron’s costumes from the 1958 MGM musical classic movie, but it was a stunner none-the-less.

I also discovered while we looked at the exhibit, that Rob hasn’t watched Only Fools and Horses! Seriously, Rob has seen every movie EVER (maybe) and yet ask him anything about Friends or other popular TV, he hasn’t got a clue. So while we looked at Batman and Robin here, Rob wondered about the size of the actors… every day is a school day, hey?!

What will you learn during your visit to the Behind the Seams exhibit at Preston Park Museum ?

batman and robin costumes from tv only fools and horses preston park exhibit behind the seams

Tickets cost £5 for adults (£3 for concessions) in addition to the normal admission prices for Preston Park Museum. Free for children under 16.

A selection of VIP Tea and Tour days will also be taking place in January and February. Tickets cost £18 per person and include a guided tour of the exhibition as well as an opportunity to delve in to the museum’s vast collection of over 3,000 costumes, telling the story of fashion through the ages. Afterwards, guests can enjoy cream tea and a glass of fizz in the Winter Garden. Book this in advance on the website by clicking here.


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