Uncovering Orry-Kelly with Gillian Armstrong
Posted on: 02/11/2015
“He was a master of shape and silhouette and colour. Amongst the many articles we found, there was one where he was talking about fashion and he said, ‘well a costume designer can’t be following fashion, we actually have to be ahead of fashion because it’s six months before the film comes out. My concept is that my clothes wrap around a form like smoke and if you do that, you will be ahead of your time.’”
Growing up in sleepy Kiama on the NSW coast, Orry-Kelly was a 21-year-old budding actor when he bravely set sail for the United States. Sharing digs in New York with another aspiring actor, Cary Grant, he eked out a living painting murals for speakeasies before trying his hand at set and costume design on Broadway.
Moving to Hollywood in the 1930s, Orry worked tirelessly to become chief costume designer at Warner Bros. where he established a career-defining collaboration with Bette Davis.
Orry received Academy recognition late in life, winning Oscars® for An American In Paris (1951), Les Girls (1957) and Some Like It Hot (1959). Orry-Kelly: Dressing Hollywood contains all three of Orry’s Oscars®, presented alongside rarely-seen costumes, sketches, paintings, production photos, publicity materials and more.
The exhibition coincides with the release of celebrated filmmaker Gillian Armstrong’s feature-length documentary Women He’s Undressed (2015), screening at ACMI as part of Australian Perspectives.
In the video below, Armstrong discusses Orry’s approach to costume design and reveals the secrets she uncovered during the research for her acclaimed film.
Orry-Kelly: Undressing Hollywood runs until 17 January 2016.comments powered by Disqus
Orry-Kelly: Undressing Hollywood curator Ulanda Blair standing with filmmaker Gillian Armstrong, director of Women He's Undressed