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Costume design
  • Costume design
    Russell, Shirley, born 1935 - died 2002
  • Enlarge image

Costume design

  • Place of origin:

    London (designed)

  • Date:

    1998 (designed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Russell, Shirley, born 1935 - died 2002 (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    pencil, pen and ink and watercolour on paper, with fabric swatches.

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Victoria Russell

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This Shirley Russell (1936-2002) design was for the vengeful actress Carlotta Grey in Sheridan Morley's production of Noël Coward's last play A Song at Twilight. With Vanessa Redgrave as Carlotta, and her brother Corin Redgrave as her ex-lover Sir Hugo Latymer whom Carlotta threatens to ruin, this was the first time they worked together in the West End. The production opened with the star cast, including Kika Markham and Matthew Bose, at the Gielgud Theatre on the 20th October 1999, having originally been produced with different actors at the King's Head Theatre.

A Song at Twilight, a dark comedy, was set in a hotel in a luxurious Swiss hotel in the 1960s. The Independent review noted: 'The actors benefit no end from Simon Higlett's handsome sets and Shirley Russell's excellent costumes which carefully delineate the characters', and that of The Express: 'Any other actress would have refused to wear a skimpy frock, but Vanessa gamely exposes lumps and bumps of middle-age the part demands.' Shirley Russell did a lot of design for film with her ex-husband Ken Russell but little theatre work, and was specifically asked by Vanessa Redgrave to design this production.

Physical description

Pencil, pen and ink and watercolour design for a knee-length cream shift dress shown on a full-length front view of the character, with short hair. The dress has a geometric halter-neck collar, teamed with a cream fringed shawl and cream sling-back shoes. Two swatches of silk jersey fabric, cream and turquoise, are pinned to the design on the right- hand side below the name inscribed in black ink Vanessa Redgrave. The title of the play, the name of the character, and an explanation of details of the design are inscribed in black ink on the left of the design.

Place of Origin

London (designed)


1998 (designed)


Russell, Shirley, born 1935 - died 2002 (designer)

Materials and Techniques

pencil, pen and ink and watercolour on paper, with fabric swatches.

Marks and inscriptions

"A Song at Twilight" "Carlotta Gray" - "Heavy cream silk shift - The geometric neckline and hem encrusted with angular amber beads - The soft stole could be silk or wool jersey - fringed with similar beads - 1960s 1960s angular earrings & a "RADO" faceted watch. Low heeled cream Kir pumps (could also be ull length) 100% Silk-Joel & Son - also available in palest blue/green. Vanessa Redgrave.
Inscribed in black ink


Height: 40.6 cm, Width: 30.4 cm

Object history note

Costume design for A Song at Twilight by Noël Coward, directed by Sherian Morley, Gielgud Theatre, previewed 12 October 1999, opened 20 October 1999, closed 4 March 2000. Starring Vanessa Redgrave, Corin Redgrave, Kika Markham and Matthew Bose. The production originated with a different cast at the Kings Head Theatre, December 1998.

Descriptive line

Costume design by Shirley Russell (1935-2002) for Vanessa Redgrave as Carlotta Gray in A Song at Twilight, Gielgud Theatre, 20 October 2000. Pencil, pen and ink and watercolour, with fabric swatches.


Pen and ink and watercolour; Silk jersey


Entertainment & Leisure


Theatre and Performance Collection

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