In summer 2024, the Benaki Museum in collaboration with Searchlights Pictures brings to Athens the exhibition ‘Poor Things. The Costumes.’ The exhibition has been inaugurated yesterday  at the Benaki Museum of Greek Culture by the President of the Hellenic Republic, Ms. Katerina Sakellaropoulou. The inauguration event was attended by the Academy Award® and British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) winning costume designer Holly Waddington. ‘Poor Things. The Costumes’ will run until 29 September 2024.

The exhibition includes twelve of Holly Waddington’s original handmade costumes for Yorgos Lanthimos’s film Poor Things, as they were worn by Emma Stone, Willem Dafoe, Mark Ruffalo, Ramy Youssef, Vicki Pepperdine, Kathryn Hunter, and Jerrod Carmichael, and was previously presented at the Barbican Centre in London.

The Benaki Museum will offer visitors the opportunity to view the exquisite costumes of the recent, multi-award-winning international film production, and appreciate another dimension of the art of costume design.

The realisation of the exhibition would not have been possible without the support of PPC Group.

The film

Based on the acclaimed novel by Alasdair Gray and brought to the screen by Yorgos Lanthimos, award-winning director of The Favourite and The Lobster, Poor Things is an account of the fantastical evolution of Bella Baxter (Academy Award® winner Emma Stone), a young woman brought back to life by a brilliant and unorthodox scientist, Dr. Godwin Baxter (Willem Dafoe).

Eager to learn and experience all that life has to offer, Bella runs off with Duncan Wedderburn (Mark Ruffalo), a slick and debauched lawyer, on a whirlwind adventure across the continents. Free from the prejudices of her times, Bella grows steadfast in her purpose to stand for equality and liberation.

Poor Things won The Golden Lion for Best Film at the Venice Film Festival in 2023. It also won four Academy Awards® and five British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) in 2024; Holly Waddington won the award for Best Costume Design in both.

The film is now streaming on Disney+.

The costumes

The inventiveness of the film’s costumes lies in the marvellous balance between the dress conventions of the period when the action takes place and contemporary features that the costume designer grafts onto her creations, in concert with the director Yorgos Lanthimos. ‘We pushed ideas to extremes, embracing Yorgos’s encouragement for a creative storm,’ as Waddington stated in an interview.

The exhibition includes a total of twelve costumes. Six of them were worn by the characters of Godwin Baxter (Willem Dafoe), Duncan Wedderburn (Mark Ruffalo), Max McCandles (Ramy Youssef), Harry Astley (Jerrod Carmichael), Madam Swiney (Kathryn Hunter), and Mrs Prim (Vicki Pepperdine). The remaining six were worn by Emma Stone, who plays the film’s protagonist, Bella Baxter, and trace the development of her character over the course of this unusual coming-of-age story. ‘The biggest thing for me when working on Poor Things was to find a way to change the costumes and make sure they go on their journey with Bella,’ said Holly Waddington in an interview. Bella’s six costumes in the Athens exhibition demonstrate the magical way in which she overcame that challenge. In another interview, the costume designer spoke of a ‘gradual growing up of the clothes.’

Holly Waddington

Costume designer Holly Waddington has worked in theatre, dance, and visual art, creating costumes, set and installations for productions at Rambert, The Royal Ballet, Complicité, Sadlers Wells, The Almeida, The Royal Court, The Gate, The Young Vic, Scottish Dance Theatre, Handspring UK and BAM.

Holly’s costumes for film and TV include Hulu’s The Great, written and produced by Tony McNamara, Lady Macbeth, directed by William Oldroyd, Ginger & Rosa by Sally Potter and Departure by Andrew Steggall.

Holly studied Fine Art at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, Oxford University and Scenography (Dance) at Trinity Laban.