Sketch to Screen:

The Art of Hollywood Costume Design

Organized by the Museum, Sketch to Screen explored the vital artistic contribution of costume design throughout the history of the American motion picture industry. It consisted of more than 85 original garments and accessories worn in films by some of Hollywood’s brightest stars, including Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Audrey Hepburn, Bette Davis, Charlton Heston and John Wayne. Film costumes worn by contemporary stars George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Russell Crowe, Kate Winslet, Robert DeNiro, Renee Zellweger, and Johnny Depp were also represented in the exhibit.

Garments from various decades demonstrated the range of creativity and craftsmanship that costume designers use to construct film characters through clothing. The exhibition also told this story through costume design sketches, wardrobe and film production photographs, documents, original film posters, and film clips. Sketch to Screen was organized in ten thematic sections relevant to both fashion and film conventions: Early Cinema, Femme Fatale, Gone with the Wind, Period Films, Women’s Fashion, Musicals, Westerns, Comic Books & Animation, A Man’s World, and Oscar® Winning Designs.

The exhibition highlighted the contributions of the greatest costume designers from the Hollywood studio era, such as Walter Plunkett, Gilbert Adrian, Travis Banton, and Edith Head, while tracing the evolution of the often overlooked costume designer’s role in contemporary films. Visitors learned about the little known costume design process beginning with the film script, research, design sketches, materials selection and garment production, fittings with the actors, and screen tests, which is an altogether different process from designing every-day fashion.

The exhibition was accompanied by a film series that celebrates many of the greatest examples of costume design in motion pictures. Titles included films with garments represented in the exhibition, such as Gone with the Wind, Funny Face, Dick Tracy, Atonement, Public Enemies, and Mamma Mia!. Film screenings took place in the Museum’s 250-seat Noble Theater on Thursday nights at 7:30 p.m. through the duration of the exhibit.

Sketch to Screen: The Art of Hollywood Costume Design was organized by the Oklahoma City Museum of Art and co-curated by Brian Hearn, film curator, and Jennifer Klos, associate curator. Lenders to the exhibition included Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin, The Collection of the Motion Picture Costume Design/Larry McQueen, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, George Eastman House International Museum of Film & Photography, The Autry National Center of the American West, NBC Universal Archive, 20th Century Fox Archive, MGM Archive, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma History Center, and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Sandy Schreier, and Marlene Stewart.