Jaw-dropping new Hollywood Costume show at the V&A

London blockbuster stars John Travolta's disco suit and Audrey Hepburn's little black Tiffany's dress

LAST UPDATED AT 12:15 ON Mon 22 Oct 2012

What you need to know
The Victoria and Albert Museum's new exhibition Hollywood Costume looks at the role of costume design in bringing movie characters to life. Spread over three galleries, the exhibition ranges from early Charlie Chaplin silent pictures to the high-tech film-making of Avatar.

Highlights include John Travolta's white suit from Saturday Night Fever, Marilyn Monroe's cocktail dress from The Seven Year Itch and Dorothy's dress from The Wizard of Oz. There are also photographs of costume fittings and script notes, as well as interviews with directors and actors including Meryl Streep and Robert de Niro.

Runs until 27 January.

What the critics like
The curators have worked hard to ensure these costumes aren't just seen as museum pieces but "as part of the great collaborative process of film-making", says Bee Wilson in The Guardian. There's pleasure in seeing the eloquence of costume played out, from the cartoonish swagger of Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow outfit, to the "swooning nostalgia" of Kate Winslet's hobble-skirted Titanic dress. And Dorothy's Wizard of Oz dress is "enough to give you goosebumps".

Jaw-droppers include Ginger Rogers's sexy sequined showgirl outfit in Lady in the Dark, and Audrey Hepburn's Givenchy dress for Breakfast at Tiffany's, says Philippa Stockley in the Evening Standard. And the V&A's bespoke dummies give "a sense of a real body, movement, and period".

It's the sort of blockbuster show that delivers what many museums only imagine, says Artlyst. Projections of the film characters who wore the outfits animate the clothes and give them context.

What they don't like
Taking it all in can be time-consuming, says Cinemart's Mairead Roche, who spent three hours getting through the show – but that's the only criticism. It's a "must see" for film fans. · 

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