Whether she was portraying a knife-wielding mistress, a scheming French aristocrat, or a cartoon villain with two-tone hair, Glenn Close minded her costumes.
Snagging and storing a costume from the set of a film you’ve acted in may be an unusual habit for actors. Thank heaven Close had this habit — and often made it part of her contracts: “I get to keep the threads!” That’s why we have this little jewel of an exhibition: The Art of the Character: Highights from the Glenn Close Costume Collection on view through November 15, 2021 at the Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University in Bloomington.
The bubble wrap swing coat she wore as Cruella de Vil in 102 Dalmatians (2000, by Anthony Powell). The boxy black leather jacket from Fatal Attraction (1987, by Ellen Mirojnick). The iridescent navy gown brimming with roses and bows from Dangerous Liaisons (1988, by James Acheson). All conjure their eras and attitudes with purposeful perfection.
A walk through the exhibition is a reminder that no detail is spared in the making of a costume for a film, even if the actor wears it for one short scene. What jaw-dropping investments we make in art in service to illusion! The exhibition is also a reminder of the silent power of costume in communicating character. To wit, Cruella’s three progressively unhinged houndstooth suits and jewelry in 101 Dalmatians (1996). The exhibition is also a celebration of the collaborative art of film. A great costume designer gives an actor that extra oomph. The show includes a video of Close interviewing costume legend Anthony Powell; he died this year at age 85, having made clothes for hundreds of films.
The last item in the show is the golden gown Close wore to the 2019 Oscars. She didn’t win one, but she won the night with a 42-lb. Carolina Herrera dress made of 4 million cylindrical glass beads, each thinner than a toothpick.
The Art of the Character is a great excuse to visit Bloomington before November 15.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY Tracy R. Ball.