Arizona Artbeat: Hooray for Hollywood

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The Phoenix Art Museum is hosting the $1.5 million “Hollywood Costume” exhibit. It features more than 100 costumes, including Marilyn Monroe’s flowing dress from “The Seven Year Itch”, Darth Vadar’s black suit and cape from “Star Wars” and Judy The Phoenix Art Museum is hosting the $1.5 million “Hollywood Costume” exhibit. It features more than 100 costumes, including Marilyn Monroe’s flowing dress from “The Seven Year Itch,” Darth Vadar’s black suit and cape from “Star Wars” and Judy Garland’s blue-and-white gingham pinafore from “The Wizard of Oz.” Phoenix is the fourth and final stop for the exhibit, which returns to Hollywood after its Arizona run ends on July 6.

Richard Ruelas: In tonight's Artbeat segment, a taste of Hollywood comes to the Phoenix Art Museum. Producer Christina Estes and photographer Juan Magana take us inside this unique exhibit.

Christina Estes: It's the only west coast showing of Hollywood Costume. A velvet robe and 20-foot high red curtain lead visitors through a hallway and into a world of make believe.

Dennita Sewell: If you loved the movies, you're going to love this show.

Christina Estes: It features more than 100 costumes that covered the biggest stars over the last century.

Dennita Sewell: It gives us an opportunity to really celebrate the importance of the costume designer and the importance of movies in our culture.

Christina Estes: It's hard to imagine Rocky without the stars and stripes, or batman without his utility belt. In the 1955 credits for The Seven Year Itch, Marilyn Monroe's character was simply listed as the girl. The scene where she stood on the subway grate spawned another term, the dress.

Dennita Sewell: And you can see just how exciting it is to see that pleated skirt and really have the opportunity to be just that little bit closer to that legendary actress and image.

Christina Estes: After years of planning, weeks of construction, and countless hours viewing the pieces, Exhibit Director Dennita Sewell remains a little star struck.

Dennita Sewell: Seeing the costumes in person give you a first-hand look at the kind of detail, and that's necessary in these costumes for the way that they appear through the film medium. So you'll see the scale sometimes is surprising.

Christina Estes: The costume worn by Robert De Niro in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is so heavy it took three people to place it on the mannequin.

Dennita Sewell: And you can see in detail the way that it was distressed and the texture that the costume design house gave to it to give it that really intensely scary look.

Glenn Close: You know sometimes in the movies they put tissue paper in your hand bag.

Christina Estes: The multimedia exhibit contains interviews with actors like Glenn Close describing how costumes help make characters come to life.

Glenn Close: When I played Margaret Thatcher, I did want there to be in my purse what would be in my purse.

Christina Estes: The private owner of this Darth Vader costume won't let us show much on camera. While it appeared in the London exhibit, Phoenix is the only U.S. city where you can see it.

Dennita Sewell: The actor was over six feet tall. 6'5". So we had to extend the mannequin, just to make it big enough for this larger than life character, and the helmet when it finally went on was so ominous.

Christina Estes: Phoenix is also the only museum to show Jennifer Lawrence's shimmering dress and Christian Bale's velvet suit from the 2013 film American Hustle. The costumes come from more than 60 lenders, including studios and private collectors. In 2012, Dorothy's dress from the Wizard of Oz sold at auction for nearly half a million dollars. Pretty pricy for such a simple garment.

Dennita Sewell: Adrian, the great costume designer at MGM, when that movie was made, used authentic techniques that someone in the middle of Kansas in the depression era when they're portraying this character would have used. So it's a very humble cloth and it's very humbly sewn.

Christina Estes: Dorothy's ruby red slippers, which helped her return home, signal the end of the Hollywood costume journey. After showing in London, Melbourne, Australia, and Richmond, Virginia, Phoenix is the fourth and final stop. When a curtain closes on this exhibit, one of the largest collections of iconic costumes will come to an end.

Richard Ruelas: The costume exhibit runs through July 6th. You can find more information at

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