Designed for Drama – A Biltmore House Event

This week I went with friends to the Biltmore House for their Designed for Drama Event, a collection of costumes worn in movies based on George Vanderbilt’s favorite books.  This is the third time the Biltmore House has done a costume exhibit.  The first one, Dressing Downton Abby was spectacular!  This exhibit is a collection of more than 40 outstanding costumes from 14 recent movies based on books that were George Vanderbilt’s favorite reads.  The amount of handwork and details on the gowns are just amazing.  I took over 200 pictures, making up for lost time as up to now pictures were not allowed at Biltmore House.  They now allow non-flash photography, so I had a field day, and was very happy I took an extra battery for the camera! There is no way I can show you all the wonderful costumes, I just chose a few to highlight. First, this one is a gorgeous gold gown with period correct black sequins. It was worn by Nicole Kidman in “Portrait of a Lady”.  Note the detailed lace at the hem.

Dressed Drama Portrait Lady 9

Just look at the handwork and decorative stitching on the bodice, and the matching gloves.

Dressed Drama Portrait Lady 10

The library is my favorite room at the Biltmore House, and it is spectacular. Bookshelves line the room on all four sides, with a secret passage behind the upper level chimney behind the fireplace.  The ceiling is ornately painted, and the woodwork is awe inspiring.  This room held the simple costumes from “Pride and Prejudice”.

Dressed Drama Pride Prejudice 4

In all the exhibits, the actual volumes from the Vanderbilt library accompanies the exhibit, displayed in clear cases.

Dressed Drama plackard

Additional posters detail the costume’s origin, designer and who wore it. The “Golden Bowl” dress was one of the most spectacular, worn by Uma Thurman.

Dressed Drama Golden Bowl 1

Look at the peacock headdress, the jeweled bodice and jeweled girdle around the hips.

Dressed Drama Golden Bowl 3

The necklace was a golden collar with large emerald color stones.

Dressed Drama Golden Bowl 2

This is the dress worn by Kate Beckinsale in the same movie. Lovely lacework on this gown!

Dressed Drama Golden Bowl 7

This dress was a bit simpler, a day dress, but what a hat!

Dressed Drama Golden Bowl 8

I’d wear this hat today, I love to wear hats! Of course, it would likely need to be the Kentucky derby to get away with it, LOL!

Dressed Drama Golden Bowl 9

Two more costumes from “The Golden Bowl”. There were more costumes from this book than any other, and they were all wonderfully done. I need to read this book!

Dressed Drama Golden Bowl 12

The dress features gathering and draping, expertly done, with lovely rose detail.

Dressed Drama Golden Bowl 13

The shawl on this dress was made of gossamer fabric with exquisite embroidery in gold.

Dressed Drama Golden Bowl 16

While we were enjoying the costumes, the pipe organ was being played, with ragtime songs from the 1920s. The music could be heard over a large portion of the tour.

Biltmore Pipe Organ

These costumes from “House of Mirth” were arranged with mirrors so you could see the backs of both.  The room here is Mrs Vanderbilt’s bedroom, with gilded portrait frames and mirrors.

Dressed Drama House of Mirth 1

The next room showcased the simpler style of “Jane Eyre”, still beautifully sewn.

Dressed Drama Jane Eyre 1

This rich red gown from “Portrait of a Lady” is right at home with the burgundy papered walls of the bedroom.  Every room at Biltmore House is furnished beautifully, and appointed with sumptuous draperies and beautiful rugs.

Dressed Drama Portrait Lady 1

This lovely gown and dashing tuxedo are from “Sherlock Holmes”, set in the billards room in the Bachelor’s wing.

Dressed Drama Sherlock Holmes 3

Costumes from “Sleepy Hollow” worn by Johnny Depp and Michael Gambon.

Dressed Drama Sleepy Hollow 1

Even the gowns worn by the extras in the film “Sleepy Hollow” had attention to detail.

Dressed Drama Sleepy Hollow 8

Just look at the lace on the bodice, and this was worn by someone in the film’s background.

Dressed Drama Sleepy Hollow 5

Lastly, these two lovely gowns are from “Twelfth Night”.

Dressed Drama Twelfth Night 2

There was a lot more to see, including gowns from “Anna Karenina” and fanciful costumes from “Finding Neverland” and more.

From the Biltmore House website – “Once recognized as ‘one of the best read men in the country’ by New York media, [George] Vanderbilt amassed a library of more than 22,000 volumes at his North Carolina home. A reader from an early age, he began at the age of 12 keeping a record of the books he had read, including the title and author of each work. By his death in 1914, Vanderbilt had logged 3,159 books. He also counted leading authors of the era as personal friends, including Henry James, Paul Leicester Ford, and Edith Wharton—all of whom stayed at Biltmore House as guests of George and Edith Vanderbilt.”

You can read more about the creation of this exhibit in their Designed for Drama Press Release.  More pictures are on the Biltmore House website Photo Gallery.  If you are local, make plans to see this wonderful exhibit.  If you haven’t made your vacation plans for this year, come to Asheville/Hendersonville!  The event runs through July 4, 2017.

Did you enjoy the pictures?  Have you read these classics?



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22 thoughts on “Designed for Drama – A Biltmore House Event

  1. Rosemaryflower

    I have been to Biltmore one time, so many years ago. It was 102º out, and roasting in the house, but we had a blast.
    I need to go back.
    Thank you Carole for sharing these photos. the clothing is spectacular. Sometimes it makes you imagine being a costume designer for movies would be so incredible. Just the research part, and the actual procurement of the perfect materials

  2. Melanie

    Wow, what a fabulous tour, so glad you had your camera handy to capture the elegance and beauty of the home and costumes. Thanks so much for sharing these beautiful pictures. I have not read these classics, must look into that!

  3. I love, love , love The Biltmore House. I would like to see it in the spring. I have taken the Christmas candlelight tour and another time in late summer. It fascinates me. That back covered ‘porch’ that runs along the back of the house. What a view. It is such a treasure.
    I’ve read all of these books except The Golden Bowl. I never heard of it before but will have to read it. Great pictures and costumes. The detail is wonderful.

  4. Thank you so much for taking us with you! I’ve read many of those books, and the ones haven’t will be added to my reading list. The sewing on those must have been just exquisite!

  5. Hello Carole! This has been an amazing tour! I have always been fascinated and in love with fashions of the past. The details, materials, hand work and final outcome are just breath taking. One of my daughters and I enjoy getting on the computer and finding dresses especially and just spending hours discussing our thoughts, some of our fantasies and dreams if we were in that time period and just have such a grand time; I am going to try and share this with her. Every couple of years, she tries to take a trip and go to new cities and places she has never been. I know this is one Museum she would love to visit. Thank you for taking all of these spectacular photos and writing such detailed information about each and every one of them. I am so thrilled for you that you got to go with friends and enjoy the magnifigance of this Museum. Have a wonderful day!

  6. Gwynette in NW Arkansas

    Thanks for the tour and photos of the exquisite costumes. My daughters visited the Biltmore Estate and said it is a marvel.

  7. Shirley

    Thank you for sharing your pictures! My family toured the Biltmore House several years ago house and still mention it. This exhibit is certainly reason for a revisit. The fabrics and workmanship of the dresses are just exquisite.

  8. I’ve been to the Biltmore one time and loved it. This display would be wonderful to see – thanks for sharing your pictures! I’m with you – I’d love to live in a time/place where wearing hats would be the norm….along with those beautiful dresses!

  9. Linda Wagner

    The costumes are very beautiful and of course the home stands alone as far historical and elegant. Thank you for sharing them. Linda from CO

  10. What fabulous fun Carole! I can’t imagine seeing all those incredible costumes in the Biltmore setting! I love Uma Thurmond’s hair!! I’ve put the Golden Bowl on my Library Pinterest board!

  11. Mary Jean Cunningham

    Well, I’m sitting here in an old turtleneck, flannel shirt and jeans totally entranced by those sumptuous costumes! The design artistry, fabrics, adornment and workmanship are wonderful to see – thank you! I would very much like to visit Biltmore some day – it’s on that list…and in the meantime this is a great peek at an incredible house and equally incredible fashions.

  12. How fascinating! I have never been to the Biltmore – but it’s on my list! Just like the comments above, the word, “exquisite” comes to mind when I look at these dresses. What a fun exhibit to attend. Thanks for sharing and thanks for linking up to the March Take Me Away Party again! Enjoy your weekend!

  13. Jann Olson

    These costumes are amazing! Can you imagine getting to wear one? That first one worn by Nicole Kidman seems so familiar. Thanks for sharing theses amazing gowns with SYC. Oh, and that library was amazing as well.

  14. Phyllis Smith

    Hello again,

    Loved the dresses. I have always been in love with the Victorian era but the thoughts of trying to clean and iron those beautiful gowns is something I wouldn’t want to even try to do. I have been to the Biltmore House with one of my girlfriends and we went at Christmas time and it was something . There were carolers and musicians playing, trees everywhere and there is just so much to take in, my desire now is to go see the gardens, hope to do that this year and check out their quilt gardens which you shared with us a while back.

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