The Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin owns the collection of David O. Selznick, the legendary producer of “Gone With The Wind.” There are 5,000 boxes of movie memorabilia in the collection, including 5 costumes worn by Vivien Leigh in the 1939 classic, including the now-iconic green velvet curtain dress.
The Ransom Center would like to put the costumes on display in its 2014 75th anniversary “Gone With The Wind” exhibit, but they need to raise $30,000 to restore and conserve the tattered gowns before they can be put on display and loaned to other museums.
“There are areas where the fabric has been worn through, fragile seams and other problems,” Morena said. “These dresses have been under a lot of stress.”
The Ransom Center acquired the costumes — including O’Hara’s green curtain dress, green velvet gown, burgundy ball gown, blue velvet night gown and her wedding dress — in the mid-1980s as part of the collection of “Gone With the Wind” producer David O. Selznick. By then, they had already been through decades of travelling displays in theatres and had been on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
“Film costumes weren’t meant to last,” Morena said. “They are only meant to last through the duration of filming. You won’t find them to be as finished as if you bought something off the rack.”
The green curtain dress in particular needs structural reinforcement for its loose seams. The green velvet dressing gown, burgundy ball gown, blue velvet peignoir and the wedding dress have all been abraded in areas and the fabric worn through.
To donate to the conservation of the Scarlett O’Hara dresses, go to the Harry Ransom Center website. The money will go towards restoring the gowns themselves and towards purchasing custom mannequins and protective housing so they can be displayed in controlled conditions, even on the road.