Inside Glenn Close’s Magnificent Costume Collection

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Stalwart actor and eight-time Oscar nominee Glenn Close took a trip down memory lane during Vanity Fair’s Cocktail Hour, Live! event Wednesday, explaining the stories behind some of the most indelible costumes she’s worn onscreen. Accompanied by her longtime legendary costume designer Ann Roth and her costumer James Nadeaux, Close shared her favorite looks from her more than 800-piece collection, which she donated to Indiana University’s Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture + Design in 2017. Some of the costumes will be available for public viewing when “Art of the Character: Highlights From the Glenn Close Costume Collection” opens at the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art on May 6. 

The 89-year-old Roth, who was nominated for an Oscar this year for her work on Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and won an Oscar for 1996’s The English Patient, Zoomed in from her first day working on the forthcoming film adaptation of Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. Close and Roth then traveled back nearly five decades to discuss their first collaboration: the 1978 Broadway production of The Crucifer of Blood. Close displayed a photo of herself in a crimson silk velvet dress designed by Roth, which she said would elicit audible gasps whenever she would make her entrance. “You loved getting into a tough corset, remember that?” Roth said. “I’ve had many tough corsets. Jim [Nadeaux] has intimate knowledge of that,” Close responded as Nadeaux laughed knowingly. 

That costume unfortunately didn’t make Close’s collection, as she hadn’t started it yet. Nadeaux and Roth lamented the fate of movie costumes of yore (“Before the movie would be released, you’d see it in some dumb television show,” Roth quipped), before touching down on more of Close’s iconic costumes, like the flapper dress she wore in Maxie and the nurse’s outfit from The World According to Garp. Roth even shared one idea she’d had for Close in 2004’s The Stepford Wives, which unfortunately didn’t make the final cut. “I had fake nipples put in all of their bras so that they would show through their dresses,” Roth recalls. “It horrified [producer] Scott [Rudin] and [director] Frank Oz. Anyway, they all had to be removed, and they had been stitched in by, like, nuns.”

Nadeaux shared his own hilarious memories, fondly recalling a day on the set of 101 Dalmatians, when he went above and beyond to make Close’s Cruella de Vil look frighteningly fabulous.  Close found that she wasn’t able to exit a car for a shot while wearing one of Cruella’s fabulous furs, designed by Oscar-winning costume designer Anthony Powell. Nadeaux did what anyone from the costume department would do, and hid into the makeshift backseat of the car to help ease Close’s exit. “I crouch down—all 6’1” of me—in the back of this little stupid car, and kind of fed the fur out, hoping to God I wasn’t making my film debut,” he said. Lucky for Nadeaux, they got the shot in one take. Yet the memory of that moment lives on: “My back still remembers that day of shooting.”

For more information and to purchase tickets for act three of Cocktail Hour, Live! as well as on-demand viewing through April 22, visit vf.com/live. The event will support the Hollywood community and Los Angeles, with a portion of ticket-sale proceeds donated to the Motion Picture & Television Fund (MPTF) to help support COVID-19 relief efforts.

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