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COLUMN: Glenn Close’s most iconic costumes

Glenn Close speaks during the 26th Screen Actors Guild Awards on Jan. 19, 2020, at the Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall in Los Angeles.
Glenn Close speaks during the 26th Screen Actors Guild Awards on Jan. 19, 2020, at the Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall in Los Angeles.

In a 2018 interview with the New York Times Style Magazine, actress Glenn Close said she saves almost every costume she has worn in film, from her role as a book editor turned obsessive stalker in “Fatal Attraction” to her portrayal of Cruella de Vil in “101 Dalmatians.”

Close donated more than 800 of her saved costume pieces to the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art in 2017 to be used for academic purposes in theater, fashion and design programs at IU. The costumes will be on display as part of an exhibition of all of Close's costumes titled "Art of the Character" coming in May 2021.

A good costume can make or break a film, and Close’s costumes are nothing short of iconic. The costumes, created by award-winning designers, are incredible works of art. Here are my thoughts on some of Close’s best looks: 

Cruella de Vil, “101 Dalmatians

Actress Glenn Close as Cruella de Vil in “101 Dalmatians.” Movie Stills Database

I’m convinced that villains are some of the best dressed characters in film. The costumes, designed by three-time Oscar winner Anthony Powell, include a high-neck black and white sheath dress and an embellished red and orange gown lined with feathers that makes Close look like she is surrounded by flames. My favorite look from the film, though, is her collection of fur coats. 

“I live for fur, I worship fur!” Cruella said in the film. 

I know I’m not supposed to root for the villain, but looking that good, how can I not?

Marquise de Merteuil, “Dangerous Liaisons

Actress Glenn Close as Marquise de Merteuil in “Dangerous Liaisons.” Movie Stills Database

This film is full of intrigue, sex, disloyalty and costumes reminiscent of the elite in mid-18th century France. The film was low budget by Hollywood standards – a puny $14 million – but the costumes look luxurious and pricey. 

My favorite outfit from the film is the beige- and peach-colored petticoat worn by Close’s Marquise de Merteuil, accessorized with a straw hat trimmed with pink bows and a white lace choker. Of course, it takes someone like Close to pull it off so elegantly. 

Alex Forrest, “Fatal Attraction”

Actress Glen Close as Alex Forrest in “Fatal Attraction.” Movie Stills Database

“Fatal Attraction” is one of my favorite Glenn Close films, and it's about a book editor whose affair with a married lawyer turns – you guessed it – fatal. The iconic monochromatic ensembles are her character’s signature. The white dress she wears in the bathroom murder scene is legendary, no doubt, but the black leather jacket is one of the outfits that establishes Close as one of my style icons. The belted longline, collarless jacket is still seen on runways today.

Sunny von Bülow, “Reversal of Fortune”

Actress Glenn Close as Sunny von Bülow in “Reversal of Fortune.” Movie Stills Database

“Reversal of Fortune” is the story of the socialite Sunny who falls into a diabetic coma after being supposedly given an overdose of insulin by her husband. The drama and tragedy of the film is met with stunning costumes, such as my personal favorite, a sage green silk cover up detailed with lace. I was so entranced by the costume that I almost forgot she was in a coma.

Nova Prime/Irani Rael, “Guardians of the Galaxy”

Actress Glenn Close as Irani Rael in “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Movie Stills Database

The intergalactic character’s blue blazer with matching skirt compliment her powerful demeanor as the leader of the film’s Nova Empire. The sculpture of hair on her head appears to model Saturn’s rings and is probably one of the coolest styles I’ve seen in Close’s films. 

The exhibit will be on display from May 4 to Nov. 14, 2021, in the Eskenazi Museum’s Featured Exhibition gallery. Until then, I recommend checking out some of the films above in preparation for seeing these glamorous looks in person.

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