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Vivian Leigh costumes by Oliver Messel to go on display

Vivien Leigh as Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream Vivien Leigh as Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream
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A new exhibition exploring the life of Vivien Leigh will open this summer at the stately home belonging to her favourite costume designer.

Several of Leigh’s costumes for stage and screen will be on display in Public Faces, Private Lives at Nyman’s in West Sussex, which was home to designer Oliver Messel and is now owned by the National Trust.

The collection was acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2013 – however, this exhibition will examine Leigh’s collaborations with Messel.

Leigh’s stage costume from the 1937 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream – in which she played Titania – will be on display alongside other theatre costumes designed by Messel, as well as their collaborations on films such as Caesar and Cleopatra.

Sketches and stills documenting the pair’s time together will also be on display as part of the exhibition, which runs from June 1 to September 4.

Exhibition and programme office Nikki Caxton said: “We’re really excited to be hosting the V&A’s exhibition at Nymans where we have the wonderful connection between Vivien Leigh and Oliver Messel. The Gothic ruins here provide the perfect dramatic backdrop and invoke a real sense of theatre.”

It will be the first time a number of items, including Leigh’s Cleopatra headdress, have been exhibited outside the V&A.

The collection also includes personal items belonging to Leigh and to her husband, Laurence Olivier.

V&A exhibition curator Keith Lodwick said the objects on display provided a “fascinating insight” into Leigh’s personal life as well as her career.

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