5 – 7 DEC 2014


Considered one of the most beautiful actresses of her day, Vivien Leigh always took a keen interest in the way she was dressed in front as well as behind the camera. Extremely professional and a consummate actress, she collaborated in depth with costume designers in order to give the best possible portrayal of her character.

Dressing Vivien Leigh explored Vivien Leigh as an icon and the inspiration fashion and costume designers have drawn from her for decades.

Joana Granero, Director


FRI 5 DEC | 7.00PM

Dressing Vivien Leigh

Vivien Leigh was not just one of the most beautiful actresses of her day, she also took a keen interest in the way she was dressed for her films. She collaborated brilliantly with many major film costume designers and many became close friends.

Theatre & Performance Curator Keith Lodwick discussed the important relationship between Vivien Leigh, the costumes she wore, her film directors, costume designers and characters.

Victoria & Albert Museum
The Lydia and Manfred Gorvy Lecture Theatre
Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL
      South Kensington


Ham Yard Hotel

SAT 6 DEC | 7.00pm


dir. José Quintero, with Vivien Leigh, Warren Beatty, Coral Browne, Jill St. John |
USA | 1961 | 103 min | cert. 12 | In English

Vivien Leigh plays Karen Stone, a middle-aged actress who suddenly finds herself too old for the ingénue roles that initially made her famous. After the death of her husband, she flees public scrutiny and settles in Rome, where she meets the malicious contessa Terribili-Gonzales, and the young, ambitious and beautiful Paolo, played by Warren Beatty. The idea of drifting alone through middle age is so frightening to Karen that she accepts Paolo's arrogance and narcissism. Leigh, for the second time, plays a heroine created by Tennessee Williams (the film is closely based on his novella of the same title) and again, one that was somewhat close to aspects of her own life. As always, her performance is both memorable and graceful. Leigh was dressed for the film in haute couture by Balmain.

The film was introduced by Kendra Bean, author of Vivien Leigh: An Intimate Portrait.

Ham Yard Hotel
1 Ham Yard, Soho
London W1D 7DT
      Piccadilly Circus



SUN 7 DEC | 4.15pm


dir. Elia Kazan, with Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, Karl Malden
USA | 1951 | 122 min | cert. 15 | In English

Based on Tennessee Williams's 1947 play, the film of A Streetcar Named Desire had almost the same cast as Kazan's previous Broadway production, but with the addition of Vivien Leigh who had been directed for the London production by her then husband, Lawrence Olivier. Leigh played her now famous role of Southern belle Blanche Dubois, a woman desperately clinging to what remains of her own attractiveness – as well as to traditions of the 'old South'. Having lost almost everything she once had, Blanche runs to her younger sister Stella, only to meet the brutality of Stella's husband Stanley, superbly played by Marlon Brando. Leigh, who was meticulous about her approach of "looking right rather than looking good" for the part, won her second Oscar for her remarkable cinematic performance as the wounded, unbalanced but unforgettable Blanche.

The film was introduced by John Lahr, author of Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh, and Vivien Leigh's biographer Kendra Bean.

Ciné Lumière
17 Queensberry Place, London SW7 2DT
      South Kensington



Photos from the event:

Dressing Vivien Leigh
Keith Lodwick
Keith Lodwick

Dressing Vivien Leigh, by Keith Lodwick at the Victoria and Albert Museum

Kendra Bean
Ham Yard Hotel
Kendra Bean

Kendra Bean, author of Vivien Leigh: An Intimate Portrait, presented The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone at Ham Yard Hotel

Kendra Bean and John Lahr
Kendra Bean
John Lahr

Vivien Leigh's biographer, Kendra Bean, and John Lahr, author of Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh,
presented A Streetcar Named Desire at Ciné Lumière

Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh