Earlier this week I traveled with two friends to Asheville, NC to visit the Biltmore Estate. We were there to see the exhibition Designed for Drama: Fashion from the Classics.
Exhibited throughout the Biltmore House are over 40 award-winning costumes from 13 films based on books in George Vanderbilt’s collection.
A Little about the Biltmore Estate
George Vanderbilt, the builder of the Biltmore House, read about 81 books a year and recorded his reading in journals which he kept from age 9 until his death in 1914 at age 51. He amassed a collection of about 22,000 books. The costumes from each movie are displayed with books from his library.
The Biltmore House is a 250-room French Renaissance chateau which took over six years to complete and was completed in 1895. It is the largest private home in the United States. It is still owned by the Cecil family, George Vanderbilt’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The statistics about the house are staggering: four acres of floor space with 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces. If you are not familiar with the Biltmore Estate, you should really visit the Biltmore website.
The house is stunning and the gardens are perfect! Over two million plant specimens were brought in to landscape the grounds. The estate now consists of over 6900 acres. This is what remains after George’s wife Edith Vanderbilt sold about 87,000 acres to the National Forest Service after George’s death. The estate is nestled in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, my favorite area to visit.
Designed for Drama
The costumes are exhibited throughout the house. The lighting was such that my poor cell phone struggled to get decent photographs. In fact, the phone died halfway through so I only have a few pictures. Of course, I didn’t have my camera with me!
Here are the pictures I did get. They hardly show the workmanship and design mastery of these costumes.
The Golden Bowl – Salon
Costumes from The Golden Bowl were displayed in the elegantly decorated Salon.
Pride and Prejudice – Library
Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice appeared (appropriately) in the stately library.
Sleepy Hollow – Tapestry Gallery
Next to the library is the Tapestry Gallery where costumes from Sleepy Hollow were displayed. Can you believe the detail in costumes for unnamed women in the film? (Basically, extras.) This detail was evident in every costume displayed.
Details were not reserved for women’s costumes. Michael Gambon’s costume from Sleepy Hollow (shown below) was just as intricately trimmed as the women’s costumes.
Next to Michael Gambon’s costume you can see a slice of Johnny Depp’s (Ichabod Crane) costume. Unfortunately it was difficult to get a photo of a black suit in the lighting available.
Anna Karenina – An Upstairs Living Room
I can’t remember if Anna Karenina was on the second or third floor. (Too many rooms! So many stairs!) The best picture I got is this one.
The tour wound throughout the house, up to the third floor, down through the basement, from the stately public rooms to the many kitchens, pantries, and servants’ rooms. In the last room in the house I found one of my favorite movies.
Sherlock Holmes – Gun Room
So appropriate to find Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in the gun room.
Well, not quite the end. There were many more movies and many more costumes. I wish I could show them all to you. Each piece was a work of the costume designer’s art and a tribute to those who constructed each piece.
The day we visited the Biltmore House the sun came out in the afternoon to shine brightly. The flowers in the gardens were just beautiful. The rose garden was fragrant. The birds were singing. It was the perfect day to be in the mountains with friends.
Designed for Drama will be open through July 4. It is sponsored by Belk. If you plan your visit in advance and buy your tickets at least seven days before you go, you can save $10 per ticket. Plan to eat lunch at one of the Courtyard cafes. If you can stay overnight, I highly recommend the Inn at Biltmore. I had a great girls’ weekend away there a couple of years ago.
Now THIS is really the end!
This was not a sponsored post.