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Film costume - The Importance of Being Earnest
  • The Importance of Being Earnest
    Dawson, Beatrice, born 1908 - died 1976
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The Importance of Being Earnest

  • Object:

    Film costume

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    1952

  • Artist/Maker:

    Dawson, Beatrice, born 1908 - died 1976 (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Printed silk, embroidery

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Jennifer Hall

  • Museum number:

    S.1010-2017

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Lady Bracknell was Edith Evans' (1888-1976) best-known role. She performed it on the West End stage (on-and-off from 1939 to 1947), on film (1952) and on television (1960).

The 1952 film version, directed by Anthony Asquith, also starred Michael Redgrave as John Worthing, Joan Greenwood as Gwendolen Fairfax and Michael Denison as Algernon Moncreiff. It is considered to be the most successful screen adaptation of the play, with Evans' portrayal of Lady Bracknell seen as the defining performance of the character. This costume was worn during the scene in which she exclaims, 'a handbag?', a line delivery which has become iconic in film history.

The costume designer Beatrice Dawson (1908-1976) began her career in theatre in 1945 before going on to work on over sixty screen productions including The Prince and the Showgirl starring Marilyn Monroe. She was nominated for one Oscar and three BAFTAs during her career.

Physical description

Lilac and blue printed silk dress with taupe georgette fill-in and sleeves decorated with hand-painted velvet pansies. Contains a label with 'Bermans & Nathans 40 Camden Street London NW1 EDITH EVANS 'THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST.'

Place of Origin

London (made)

Date

1952

Artist/maker

Dawson, Beatrice, born 1908 - died 1976 (designer)

Materials and Techniques

Printed silk, embroidery

Marks and inscriptions

Inside label: 'Bermans & Nathans 40 Camden Street London NW1 EDITH EVANS 'THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST'

Dimensions

Length: 166 cm Dress, collar to hem, Width: 54 cm Dress, shoulder width, Weight: 3.5 kg Packed weight of dress

Descriptive line

Costume worn by Edith Evans as Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest film, 1952

Materials

Silk; Velvet; Georgette

Techniques

Embroidery; Machine sewing

Categories

Entertainment & Leisure; Costumes; Film and Cinema

Collection

Theatre and Performance Collection

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