Iconic outfits worn by Marilyn Monroe, Elton John and Tina Turner to star in new London ‘Diva’ exhibition
The Diva collection will include film stars, performers and opera singers
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The collection, which looks at film stars, performers and opera singers, will explore how diva - meaning goddess in Italian - has been “subverted and embraced over time”, from the 19th century to the present day.
The exhibition will be split into two parts, with Act One focusing on “the goddesses of the stage and screen” who have helped to shape popular culture today, while Act Two looks at how the word diva has been redefined in the modern age. The latter collection highlights Rihanna, Dolly Parton, Barbra Streisand, Sir Elton and Cher among other well-known stars.
The fringed black dress worn by Monroe in the 1959 comedy film Some Like It Hot, which won an Oscar for costume design and earned the actress a Golden Globe, is among the items set to go on show.
Sir Elton’s Louis XIV inspired look, with powdered wig and train, worn by the singer-songwriter for his 50th birthday celebration in 1997, will also be on display, as well as Dame Shirley Bassey’s couture pink gown designed by Julien MacDonald. The look was completed with diamante-studded wellington boots which were worn on stage at Glastonbury in 2007.
The more than 60 outfits on display at the V&A will include costumes worn by Turner, Cher and P!nk, who had garments created by celebrity fashion designer Bob Mackie.
Kate Bailey, curator of Diva, said: “The V&A, with its world-class collections of art design and performance and its mission to inspire creativity in all its forms, is the perfect stage to celebrate the multifaceted Diva.
“Today the word diva holds a myriad of meanings. At the heart of this exhibition is a story of iconic performers who with creativity, courage and ambition have challenged the status quo and used their voice and their art to redefine and reclaim the diva.”
Other key works to be displayed include the only known surviving dress worn by actress Clara Bow, which has rarely been seen outside the US, according to the V&A.
Turner’s “Flame Dress” from the 1970s, designed by Mackie, will also go on show, as well as actress Vivien Leigh’s costume when she starred as Paola in Duel Of Angels by Jean Giraudoux at the Apollo Theatre in 1958.
Objects associated with the first opera “divas” Adelina Patti and Jenny Lind, silent-screen stars like Bow, and Bette Davis, Leigh and Monroe from the Golden Age of Hollywood also all appear.
Diva will open at the V&A on 24 June and will run until 7 April 2024.