Bendigo Art Gallery starts to install The Costume Designer: Edith Head and Hollywood exhibition

MANNEQUINS were lined up against a wall in the Bendigo Art Gallery on Monday as the team started to install a major new exhibition.

The Costume Designer: Edith Head and Hollywood will honour the life and 50-year career of the most significant costume designer in the history of cinema.

The exhibition opens on September 29 and closes on January 21.

DELICATELY unsheathed from a box in the Bendigo Art Galley on Monday was black lame dress, with matching jewellery. 

Aged more than 60 years old, the outfit first featured in the 1956 film The Ten Commandments.

Designed by Edith Head, it was created for Nina Foch’s character of Bithia.

In the distance, on a bespoke mannequin, was a green ensemble worn by Kim Novak in the 1958 Alfred Hitchcock film Vertigo.

The two costumes are among more than 70 to feature in a major new exhibition at the gallery, opening on September 29.

The Costume Designer: Edith Head and Hollywood will honour the life and work of the acclaimed costume designer, who worked on almost 1000 films.

Costumes from Hollywood classics such as Samson and Delilah (1949), The Emperor Waltz (1948), Sunset Boulevard (1950) and The Heiress (1949) tell the story of the eight-times Academy Award winner’s career.

Bendigo Art Gallery curatorial manager Tansy Curtin became interested in Edith Head during the Grace Kelly exhibition, which featured a number of her designs. 

“From there I became interested in her as a character,” Ms Curtin said. 

“Edith Head is a really important figure in history – the first female head of a costume design studio, and as she herself said, she had a mining town background instead of a French couture house background.”

With the help of Paramount Pictures and private collectors, the gallery will highlight some of the many stars that came through the ‘clinic’ of the self-described ‘dress doctor’ during her 50-year career.

Not far from the area reserved for The Costume Designer, the gallery is exhibiting an installation of ceramic vessels. 

The Inside Story, by Garry Bish, stems from the artist’s observation of urbanisation.

He has lived near Epsom for almost 50 years and has seen the paddocks surrounding him become coated with houses. 

“What was natural before has become extremely man-made,” Bish said. 

The installation explores the way buildings evolve over time – a theme also reflected in the origins of some of the vessels, which date back to the gold rush. 

The Inside Story opened at the weekend, and closes on November 11.

Tickets to The Costume Designer are up to $15 and are available online.