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Theatre costume

  • Place of origin:

    London (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    1960s (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Lamé, rhinestones, plastic, metal, feathers, sequins and wire

  • Museum number:

    S.950-1984

  • Gallery location:

    Theatre & Performance, Room 104

Cabaret costumes are among the most intricate and lavish of all theatrical costumes, successors, in ingenuity and style, to pantomime costumes of the late 19th and early 20th century. At that time whole scenes were devoted to parades of costumes on a theme, like flowers, styles of porcelain, sweets or countries. In the 1960s the idea of parading spectacular and imaginative costumes continued in nightclub floor shows, though on a smaller scale.

This headdress epitomises nightclubs and cabaret - champagne and nightclubs being indissolubly linked in popular consciousness. It was worn by a showgirl at Murray's Cabaret Club, an intimate London nightclub situated in Beak Street in Soho. Murray's opened in 1933 and finally closed its doors in 1975. Its founder, Percival Murray, established it as a respectable restaurant and club and it had a strict membership and admissions policy. Royalty and film stars were regular patrons. The club was known for its floorshows which featured girls in elaborate, if brief, costumes. Among the showgirls was one Christine Keeler, whose affair with the then Conservative Minister for War, John Profumo, ruined his career and may have helped bring down Harold Wilson's government in 1964.

Physical description

Cap of gold lamé encrusted with rhinestones, the lower edge trimmed with a band formed of three rows of rhinestones, at centre front the band running up to a second similar band which edges a 'champagne bucket' painted gold and decorated with horizontal bands of rhinestones and a motif of a manuscript letter 'c' also in rhinestones. At centre front an attached lamé circle covering the wearer's forehead, decorated with rhinestones forming two 'half moon' shapes facing each other and a central 'flower'. To each side are attached stiffened 'teardrop' shapes covered in dark gold lamé with a central similarly shaped central hole, the edges trimmed with rhinestones, the surface decorated with plastic amber coloured 'jewels', each with two pendant amber drops. From the top of the bucket protrudes a plastic 'champagne bottle', the foil of gold lamé, the cork and wires of rhinestones. Attached at back two plumes of red feathers

Place of Origin

London (possibly, made)

Date

1960s (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Lamé, rhinestones, plastic, metal, feathers, sequins and wire

Dimensions

Height: 51 cm, Width: 55 cm, Depth: 19 cm

Object history note

Murray's Cabaret Club was an intimate London nightclub situated in Beak Street in Soho. It opened in 1933 and closed in 1975. The founder, Percival Murray, established it as a respectable restaurant and club and it had a strict membership and admission policy, though this did not stop notorious gangsters the Kray twins from frequenting it. Royalty and film stars were regular patrons. The club was known for its floorshows which featured showgirls in elaborate, if brief, costumes. Many of the girls were classically trained dancers.

Descriptive line

Champagne bucket headdress, worn by a showgirl at Murray's Cabaret Club, London, 1960s

Materials

Lamé; Rhinestone; Plastic; Metal; Feathers; Sequins; Wire

Techniques

Sewing; Glueing

Categories

Entertainment & Leisure; Stage costumes; Hats & headwear

Collection

Theatre and Performance Collection

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