Costume design by Stephen Adnitt for the Breakfast Dress worn by Barry Humphries as Dame Edna Everage for the 1997 television programme Dame Edna's Work Experience thumbnail 1
Not currently on display at the V&A

Costume design by Stephen Adnitt for the Breakfast Dress worn by Barry Humphries as Dame Edna Everage for the 1997 television programme Dame Edna's Work Experience

Costume Design
1997 (drawn)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This is one of many costumes designed by the London-based designer Stephen Adnitt for dresses worn by Barry Humphries as Dame Edna Everage. The Australian actor, satirist, author and comedian Barry Humphries, born in 1934 in Australia as John Barry Humphries, has become a much-loved and celebrated figure on stage and television in Great Britain as his alter-ego character Dame Edna Everage whom he originally created in the 1960s as a drab housewife from the Melbourne suburb Moonee Ponds. As Edna metamorphosed from a dowdy housewife with hat and handbag to a glamorously spectacled gladioli-obsessed 'gigastar', 'squillionairess' and Dame, Humphries ensured that her outfits were as eye-catching and flamboyant as she had become. He regularly worked with the designer Stephen Adnitt to create his witty and ingenious costumes, after they met at London Television in the late 1980s when Adnitt was working on the programme The Dame Edna Experience .

With its design based on a gingham tablecloth and plate of cooked breakfast complete with cutlery, the Breakfast Dress is an excellent example of a witty costume thoughtfully created to relate meaningfully to his audience - in this case the staff at the Heinz baked beans' factory near Wigan that Edna was visiting for one episode of the BBC television programme Dame Edna's Work Experience, aired in 1997 and produced by DLT Entertainment UK.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
pencil and watercolour with silver highlights on catridge paper made by T.H. Saunders
Brief Description
Costume design for the Breakfast Dress worn by Barry Humphries as Dame Edna Everage in the 1997 BBC television programme Dame Edna's Work Experience, produced by DLT Entertainment UK. Designed by Stephen Adnitt, 1997. Pencil and watercolour on cartridge paper
Physical Description
Full-length drawing on cartridge paper watermarked 'T.H. SAUN' (for T.H. Saunders' drawing and watercolour paper, of Barry Humphries as Dame Edna Everage wearing a long-sleeved knee-length dress, the bodice, shoulders and the right sleeve to the elbow checked blue and white like a tablecloth, the lower sleeves and dress yellow. The bodice is decorated with baked beans, toast, a fried egg, spoons, a knife and a fork, with knives and forks and baked beans at the cuffs. The hem of the dress is designed to end as a plate with a blue and white heart-shaped repeating pattern around the rim, filled with baked beans, slices of toast, sausages, a ketchup bottle and knives, forks and spoons. She wears yellow shoes, a pink wig and yellow spectacles. In the top right hand corner there is a detail of the rim pattern of the plate and in the centre left a detail of the underneath of the plate rim decorated with ruffles. DAME EDNA is written in pencil, top left, recto, it is signed and dated in pencil S. Adnitt in the lower right corner and inscribed top left verso in pencil: 'Cutlery 5½" long /Wide of plate (sic) rim 7"/Diam 18"/Circ 53'
Dimensions
  • Height: 38.0cm
  • Width: 28.5cm
Credit line
Given by Stephen Adnitt
Object history
The design remained with the designer Stepohen Adnitt from the date of its creation, 1997, to the date of its donation to the V&A in 2016
Summary
This is one of many costumes designed by the London-based designer Stephen Adnitt for dresses worn by Barry Humphries as Dame Edna Everage. The Australian actor, satirist, author and comedian Barry Humphries, born in 1934 in Australia as John Barry Humphries, has become a much-loved and celebrated figure on stage and television in Great Britain as his alter-ego character Dame Edna Everage whom he originally created in the 1960s as a drab housewife from the Melbourne suburb Moonee Ponds. As Edna metamorphosed from a dowdy housewife with hat and handbag to a glamorously spectacled gladioli-obsessed 'gigastar', 'squillionairess' and Dame, Humphries ensured that her outfits were as eye-catching and flamboyant as she had become. He regularly worked with the designer Stephen Adnitt to create his witty and ingenious costumes, after they met at London Television in the late 1980s when Adnitt was working on the programme The Dame Edna Experience .



With its design based on a gingham tablecloth and plate of cooked breakfast complete with cutlery, the Breakfast Dress is an excellent example of a witty costume thoughtfully created to relate meaningfully to his audience - in this case the staff at the Heinz baked beans' factory near Wigan that Edna was visiting for one episode of the BBC television programme Dame Edna's Work Experience, aired in 1997 and produced by DLT Entertainment UK.
Associated Objects
Collection
Accession Number
S.161-2017

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record createdJanuary 26, 2017
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