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| BNE December 2014/January 2015


come out of hiding


risbane lawyer Nicholas Inglis



) has been collecting costumes

from the classic movies of

Hollywood for the last 20 years and

has amassed a spectacular collection of

hundreds of pieces that has been kept

under wraps until now. The Museum

of Brisbane has unveiled 70 pieces,

plus dozens of accessories, props,

photographs and memorabilia for the

first time in a free public exhibition,

Costumes of the Golden Age of Hollywood


showing until 26 May 2015.

Inglis was happy to bring the pieces

out of storage for the show. “When you

look at them they really are works of

art and they should be out there for the

public to enjoy and to view,” says Inglis,

who admits the collection really was an ‘accidental’ hobby that just grew and grew. “My

aunt owned the Dawn Theatre at Chermside so I went there quite a lot to watch films

when I was growing up and I used to write to the stars [and he has quite a few autographs

from the likes of Audrey Hepburn and Frank Sinatra as a result]. My interest was always

in the Hollywood classics, the movies of the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s but back then I didn’t

even know it was possible to collect costumes.” It was only after Inglis stumbled upon an

auction brochure that his curiosity was piqued and he made his first purchase on eBay,

then his second … his fifth and … now his collection stands at about 300 pieces.

Included in the exhibition are pieces worn by Grace Kelly, Judy Garland, Gloria

Swanson, Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando, Katherine Hepburn and moviedom’s ‘million

dollar mermaid’ Esther Williams. Garments date from 1933 to 1970.

Some pieces have been acquired in interesting ways: one piece was a gift from Debbie

Reynolds as a thank you to Inglis for helping her collate and catalogue her own collection

prior to auction; another, from the film

Funny Girl

, was bought from Barbra Streisand

who was selling some pieces from her own collection for charity; more pieces were

“rescued” from a couple in Los Angeles who had found dozens of boxes labelled “MGM”

in a storage unit they bought and were going to throw out until they contacted Inglis

through his blog, the Vintage Film Costume Collector.

As part of the exhibition some scenes from actual productions will also be shown on

screen so visitors can see how the garments appeared in their heyday.

Brisbane-based fashion curator Nadia Buick and Museum of Brisbane deputy director

Christopher Salter ‘discovered’ Inglis on social media and have worked with him for two

years to collate the exhibition. “We’re looking to tell a story with the exhibition, about the

designers, the studios and what was happening in cinema at that time,” says Buick. “It has

been a challenging exhibition to mount. Garments were custom-made to fit their stars

and so some mannequins have had to be cut to size or made to a certain size to suit the

garments, and many of them were hand-made with embellishments such as beading or

intricate boning so they have to be properly supported,” she says.

Costumes of the Golden Age of Hollywood

, Museum of Brisbane, Level 3,

Brisbane City Hall, open daily 10am to 5pm. Until 26 May 2015. Entry free.


Robe worn by Myrna Loy in

I Love You Again

Swimsuit worn by Esther Williams


Million Dollar Mermaid

Images: Atmosphere Photography