The Harry Ransom Center to collect funds from fans to restore five dresses worn by Vivien Leigh in the film. Fans of Gone With The Wind obviously do give a damn about Scarlett O’Hara’s extravagant dresses with a museum appeal for funds to restore gowns from the 1939 movie meeting its target in three weeks.
The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin, which preserves cultural materials, launched a public appeal earlier this month to raise $30,000 to restore five dresses worn by Vivien Leigh in the Oscar-winning film.
The costumes, from the collection of filmmaker David O Selznick who produced Gone With The Wind, A Star Is Born and Rebecca, were described as being in a fragile condition and in need of restoration.
The museum said more than 600 people from 44 US states and 13 countries contributed to the appeal. “These generous donations confirm that the film’s legions of fans do care,” Steve Wilson, film curator at the Ransom Center, said in a statement. He said the donations will help purchase protective housing and custom-fitted mannequins to allow for them to be exhibited according to conservation’s best practices and standards.
The Ransom Center also wants to display the costumes in 2014, as part of an exhibition to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Gone With The Wind and loan the dresses to other museums around the world.
No further damage
Jill Morena, the museum’s collection assistant for costumes, said the Selznick collection came to the centre in the 1980s and the gowns had been kept in humidity and temperature-controlled conditions in acid-free tissue paper in archival boxes, but damage was inevitable.
“Most costumes are not constructed to last beyond the production of the film nor are they finished in the same way as a ready-to-wear garment,” said Morena.
“We’ve taken steps to prevent further damage, but we want to be able to safely display and share the dresses.” The dresses include a burgundy ball gown that Scarlett wore to Ashley Wilkes’ birthday party, the wedding dress when she married Charles Hamilton, a blue velvet peignoir and a green velvet dressing gown.
The collection also includes the green velvet dress that a struggling Scarlett O’Hara made from some curtains before she went to ask Rhett Butler for financial assistance.