In January 1986, Decherd Turner, then director of the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at The University of Texas at Austin, contacted Sister Mary Elizabeth Joyce, director of the Fashion Design Department of Incarnate Word College in San Antonio, Texas, about supervising the reproduction of four original gowns worn by Vivien Leigh in the 1939 film Gone With The Wind. Created for the short life of the filming of the movie, the gowns, part of the David O. Selznick Archive, were deteriorating and were too fragile to be displayed. The project was begun shortly afterward, with two fashion design students, Carrie Harrell and Jan Hevenor, being commissioned to do the work. In mid-January the two designers, along with Sister Joyce, a newspaper reporter, and one of the sponsors of the project, Mrs. Sherwood Inkley, made the first trip to Austin to see the gowns.
A month later, the designers returned with Sister Joyce to take detailed measurements of the garments to determine the necessary yardage. Tiny pieces of fabric were taken from the inside seams in order to match color and fiber content. Finally, all the trimmings and underpinnings were counted and measured. A March trip to New York City, sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Albert B. Alkek of Bandera, yielded nearly all the materials, and contacts were made for the contract work that would be done.
The green velveteen dress which Scarlett O'Hara made from curtains was selected as the first reproduction to be made. Requiring 16 yards of Italian cotton velveteen, the dress was decorated with silk tassels and cording reproduced by Scalamandre of New York. The dress was completed, with over 200 hours of work, in July. Work on the other three gowns proceeded, with Scarlett's wedding dress requiring 31 yards of ivory French silk satin. Touch of Lace of New York reproduced 160 silk leaves and 20 lace leaves; in addition, more than 10 yards of bias vines were used on the gown. Requiring 340 hours of work, the wedding dress was completed in October. Scarlet's blue velveteen wrapper trimmed with fox fur took 140 hours to complete, from late October to late November. Thirty yards of blue French silk velvet were used in this garment with the fox fur collar and cuffs being made by Antonovich, International Ltd. of New York City. The replica of the red velvet gown worn by Scarlett O'Hara to Ashley Wilkes' birthday party was made with sixteen yards of French silk velvet. After 191 hours to fashion the last gown, the entire project was completed in early 1987, one year after its conception. The reproductions and the original gowns remain protected from light and dust in the Ransom Center's controlled storage areas.
The replica Scarlett O'Hara gowns are part of the David O. Selznick Archive of the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin.
The project was funded by:
Mrs. Sherwood Inkley
Mr. and Mrs. Albert Alkek
The University of Texas at Austin
Project Directors: Decherd Turner, Sister Mary Elizabeth Joyce
Designers: Carrie Harrell, Jan Hevenor
| Film Collection |
Exhibit design by Steve L. Wilson
Learn how you can save the Green Curtain Dress and other costumes from Gone With The Wind.