It is a truth universally acknowledged that a set of acclaimed film costumes must be in want of a museum exhibit. Finally, the two have found their match—in a special exhibit of costumes from Jane Austen’s film adaptations, making its North American debut at Cincinnati’s Taft Museum of Art.
Opening this summer, the “Jane Austen: Fashion & Sensibility” (hey . . . what about Fashion & Freindship?) exhibit will showcase approximately fifty costumes from eight movies and television adaptations of Austen’s novels. These costumes come from the collection of British costume house Cosprop Ltd., and have been worn by famous interpreters of Austen’s text including Kate Winslet, Emma Thompson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Judi Dench, Colin Firth, and Hugh Grant.
A press release states the exhibit, which runs from June 11 to September 4, “brings to life beloved characters from Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Mansfield Park, while revealing powerful themes of class, gender, and social dynamics in Austen’s world.” Understandable: as a writer of social satire, sartorial conventions were utterly relevant to Austen’s work. Wrote an unknown critic in the year after Austen’s death, “Her merit consists altogether in her remarkable talent for observation . . . in recording the customs and manners of commonplace people in the commonplace intercourse of life.”
And Janeites can rejoice: tickets are free for Taft Museum members and $18 for non-members. Of course, that’s minus the travel to Cincinnati if you don’t live there already. She’s right: “everything is to be got with money.”