Orry-Kelly: Dressing Hollywood at ACMI

Orry-Kelly: Dressing Hollywood celebrates the life and work of one of our most successful exports to Hollywood – the costume designer from the small coastal town of Kiama, NSW, who designed for a staggering 285 films, creating countless magical moments in cinema.

Gifted, garrulous and unapologetic, Orry-Kelly designed gowns for illustrious films including 42nd Street(1933), Jezebel (1938), The Maltese Falcon (1941), Casablanca (1942), Auntie Mame (1958), and Gypsy(1962). He was also the first Australian to win three Oscars®, for An American in Paris (1951), Les Girls (1957) and Some Like it Hot (1959).

As Chief Costume Designer at Warner Brothers Studio between 1932 and 1944, and then later as a designer for 20th Century Fox, MGM, Universal and RKO, Orry-Kelly was a major factor in the success of Ginger Rogers, Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Errol Flynn, Katharine Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe, among many others.

Orry-Kelly: Dressing Hollywood brings home the untold story of the boy from Oz who was a friend and confidant to the silver screen’s pre-eminent stars, as well as a prodigiously talented designer. The exhibition will present the first comprehensive survey of his career and will also offer access to Orry-Kelly’s previously impenetrable personal history, touching on his life as a proud young gay man who had a troubled relationship with great love, Cary Grant.

From letters, clippings, paintings, drawings, archival footage and photographs, to the spectacular costumes themselves, the exhibition reflects the theatricality and glamour of costume design from mid-century Hollywood. It contains objects loaned from prestigious archives and private collections to showcase the breadth and scope of Orry-Kelly’s impact.

Announcing the exhibition, ACMI Director & CEO, Katrina Sedgwick said: “We are delighted to be celebrating the professional and personal journey of our prolifically talented artistic export. With Orry-Kelly: Dressing Hollywood we pay homage to Hollywood’s star-maker whose artistry has profoundly influenced costume design across decades and continents.”

To complement the exhibition, ACMI will screen the documentary Women He’s Undressed (2015) from internationally-respected filmmaker Gillian Armstrong. ACMI worked in close collaboration with Armstrong’s team in developing the exhibition and is indebted to their comprehensive, detailed research.

Orry-Kelly: Dressing Hollywood at ACMI
18 August 2015 – 17 January 2016