Gone With the Wind Dresses Fight Against Time
Nearly 75 years old, one ballgown is faded forever
By Sarah Whitmire,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 20, 2011 12:50 PM CDT
Cara Varnell, an independent art conservator, works with on the belt sash from Scarlett O’Hara’s green curtain dress from the film "Gone With the Wind," Tuesday, July 19, 2011, in Austin, Texas.   (Eric Gay)
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(Newser) – Efforts to preserve and restore several iconic dresses from the Oscar-winning Civil War movie Gone With the Wind have uncovered what might be painful for die-hard fans: Some of them simply can't be made to look like they did on screen. Stitching and holes can be repaired and extra feathers added years ago can be removed, but the dresses are old, badly faded in spots and in one case, just too fragile to handle. The Harry Ransom Center announced a $30,000 effort last year to preserve five of the dresses, ideally they will be ready for a 2014 exhibit to mark the film's 75th anniversary.

The costumes are among the most famous in Hollywood history and played a key role in one of the most popular films ever. They include: Scarlett O'Hara's green curtain dress (which has been irreparably altered from a bath in disinfectant), her green velvet gown, a burgundy ball gown, a blue velvet night gown, and her wedding dress. One piece that cannot be restored is Scarlett's silk wedding veil. It was brittle and lined with permanent creases when it was acquired and is now so fragile that it will likely disintegrate if handled. "We are all organic material," said the art conservation expert tasked with restoring the dresses tells the AP. "When a costume has come to the end of its life, it is no different than we are."
 

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