An extended chance to marvel at iconic Irish film costumes

Earlier this year, a costume exhibition at Limerick’s Hunt Museum was cut shorter than an Oscar’s speech. It has since enjoyed an encore – an extension until November

In March, an exhibition entitled “Best Costume Goes to…” at the Hunt Museum, ended up on the proverbial cutting room floor. Another victim of the lockdown, it’s 30-strong outfits celebrating Irish cinema were plunged into darkness, including more than 30 iconic ensembles.

But, as with all the best cinematic deaths, the show has been resurrected to its third incarnation – during lockdown, it was displayed online – and now runs until November 4, offering film, TV and fashion fans another chance to marvel at costumes from The Favourite, My Left Foot, The Tudors, In the Name of the Father, Dancing at Lughnasa, thanks to its curator Eimer Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh, who is also a costume designer and co-founder of the Irish Costume Archive Project.



Kate Beckinsale's dress from the film Love & Friendship


Interestingly, most pieces in the exhibition are from period dramas, however items from modern-day movies include In Bruges, Nightflyers and Lenny Abrahamson’s big-screen adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s Room.

The Normal People co-director showed his support in person at the exhibition’s launch, saying, “I’m delighted that the Hunt Museum and the Irish Costume Archive Project have chosen to include costumes worn by Jake and Brie in Room. The whole exhibition is fascinating and I’m proud that something I made is represented there.”

It’s not just the show that’s fascinating; the backstories aren’t bad either. 

“In conversation with Isabelle Huppert, our leading lady, I expressed the wistful thought that a Chanel Couture suit would be the perfect image for the film’s important restaurant scene,” says distinguished costume designer Joan Bergin, who worked on Neil Jordan’s film Greta.“We needed not one but three of them. Isabelle, a friend and longtime muse of Karl Lagerfeld, suggested I phone Chanel and coax them to loan them to us, explaining that one would be bloodied in action.


“They asked to read the script, then generously sent the three suits. Ms Huppert is extremely petite and the garments were out of scale for her tiny frame. In an action deserving of either the French Legion of Honour for bravery or La Guillotine, I had the hero suit recut to fit by a skilled member of our wardrobe team. I rang Karl Lagerfeld after the scene was shot. He seemed graciously bemused and requested the bloodied suit for his provide costume collection.” 

Fingers crossed there won’t be any more dramas affecting this enjoyable cross-section of movie magic that’s a mere handful of the 300 or so pieces carefully mothballed by Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh with costume historian Veerle Dehaene as part of their Irish Costume Archive Project.

“Best Costumes Goes to…” runs at the Hunt Museu, Limerick, until November 4.



Read more: Normal People director says he would love to do a second series but we will have to wait


Read more: 25 feel-good, cocoon-worthy films

Read more: The Irish arts festivals that are adapting with online performances and revised formats

The image newsletter