Spring fashion week has arrived in Melbourne and although the weather hasn’t been behaving as it should, it nevertheless has not deterred this avid fashion admirer from getting out and about and enjoying the events the festival has to offer. So to begin my adventure I decided to start with a visit to ACMI to take in a little bit of old Hollywood glamour.
ACMI’s latest offering, coinciding with the release of Gillian Armstrong’s documentary Women I’ve Undressed, is a wonderful nod to Hollywood’s unsung Australian hero, Orry Kelly. The exhibition showcases the style master’s prolific creative designs that spanned over thirty years, graced 285 films, and garnered him three Oscars for An American In Paris (1951), Les Girls (1957) and Some Like it Hot (1959).
Growing up on a healthy diet of old Hollywood films, this exhibition was never going to disappoint me. It just couldn’t. The long list of films associated with Kelly, which are present on a running reel, are among my favourites and I would have to say that the reason for this was because of the costumes … so, so glamorous. I knew I would love it, and I did.
Dressing Hollywood beauties such as Ingrid Bergman, Natalie Wood, Ava Gardner, Marilyn Monroe, Mitzi Gaynor, Kay Kendall, Shirley MacLaine as well as his most famous muse the amazing Bette Davis, the exhibition celebrates his beautiful creations in their cinematic glory and laments his stature as one of the best costume designers the cinema has seen.
So for those who have a love and appreciation for vintage Hollywood this small but cleverly curated exhibition is a visual treat that will speak to you through its mix of sparkly costumes, movie clips, Oscars, sketches, fabric samples, paintings and more. And as you wander through the open space of the exhibit and take in this amazing talent it will give you a better appreciation of the man who came from Kiama, New South Wales who had aspirations to be an actor and dancer but turned his talent of fine arts and tailoring into a career that would elevate him to become one of the most unfamous Australians to conquer Hollywood in an era that truly was golden.