Indiana Exhibit Shows Off Glenn Close Costumes

Red fur coats, period ball gowns, a leather jacket—an Indiana exhibit displays actor Glenn Close’s most iconic costumes.

Glenn Close has never cared that much about fashion. At least not in her personal life. The costumes she wore on stage and in films? Now that's another matter. Close treasures them so much, she does something actors seldom do: She keeps them. "I didn't want my costumes to end up on a rag heap," Close says, "so I started collecting." On each film, she works with costume artists to ensure character authenticity through fashion. "I can't conceive of doing a character without a close collaboration with the person who will costume that character," Close says. The gowns she wore in films such as Dangerous Liaisons and 101 Dalmatians especially stand out for their intricacy. "I would love to compute how many hours go into building these clothes."

Glenn Close movie
Glenn Close in Dangerous Liaisons. Alamy Stock Photo

As Close's film roster grew, so did her collection. She needed to rent archival storage for the elaborate items, but couldn't find it locally. Eventually, a mutually beneficial opportunity presented itself. Close occasionally visits Indiana University Bloomington as a co-founder of Bring Change to Mind, a nonprofit that destigmatizes mental illness. On a visit in 2017, she learned about the university's generous archival space at the Ruth Lilly Auxiliary Library Facility. With IU's focus on the arts, the university seemed a logical home for her costumes - a place where students could study the collaborative creative work that brings characters to life. That same year, Close donated her costumes to the Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture and Design, where it is part of the Sage Collection, an artistic and scholarly fashion resource for students, professionals and the public. This year, the university's Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art is displaying 52 of Close's costumes in an exhibit called The Art of the Character, open through November 14.

"I really liked the idea of having my collection go to higher education," Close says. "I wanted students who are interested in design to see the underpinnings of costumes, to see how they're actually constructed, which is very important to anyone who is interested in designing for the performing arts." It turns out, it was just the right fit.

Close and Personal

Here are just a few of the memorable costumes on display at Indiana University.

Dangerous Liaisons Blue Dress
Dangerous Liaisons costume. Anna Powell Denton/COURTESY OF THE SAGE FASHION COLLECTION

DANGEROUS LIAISONS Glenn Close wore this luxurious gown as the Marquise de Merteuil.

101 Dalmatians Red Coat
101 Dalmatians costume. Crystal Hammon/Courtesy of The Sage Fashion Collection

101 DALMATIANS As campy Walt Disney villain Cruella de Vil, Close donned this red fur coat and patent leather boots.

Fatal Attraction Leather Coat
Fatal Attraction costume. Anna Powell Denton/Courtesy of The Sage Fashion Collection

FATAL ATTRACTION Close tied on this black leather coat in her iconic, bunny-boiling turn as Alex Forrest.

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