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A selection of the stunning costumes worn in the Emmy Award-winning television series The Tudors now take pride of place next to King Henry VIII’s world-famous armours at the Royal Armouries, Leeds, from today (September 12).

The eight costumes are being showcased until November 30 in the fitting setting of the Clarence Dock museum’s Tournament Gallery — permanent home to Henry VIII’s famous “horned helmet” and his spectacular foot combat armours.

The costumes’ loan has been made possible by the generous support of costume designer Joan Bergin, plus the creator and writer of The Tudors Michael Hirst and the Mary Rose Trust in Portsmouth — the only previous exhibitors of the costumes in the UK.

To film the series, about 500 costumes were made and countless others rented and modified. The degree of skill employed can be seen in the costumes’ every detail – from fabric to braid to button. The show netted costume designer Joan Bergin the 2010 Emmy for Outstanding Costume for a Series, along with wardrobe supervisor Susan Cave.

In an interview with the LA Times, Bergin described The Tudors’ costumes as authenticity with a twist. She wanted viewers to say, “Look how sexy and foxy,” – rather than, “Oh! Who would wear that?” Balenciaga corsets and the Degas ballerinas were her inspiration.

The Royal Armouries Creative Director Peter Armstrong said,

“The Tudors are possibly the most flamboyant and well known of the Royal Houses and are popular with all ages, particularly children, who are always captivated by the romance, treachery and sheer audacity of Henry VIII and the stories of his ill-fated wives. Where better to stage these costumes than alongside Henry’s famous horned helmet, which has its permanent home at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds?”

The eight costumes were worn by a star-studded cast in The Tudors, as follows:

The costumes are exhibited on the balcony of the Tournament Gallery. Museum admission is free.

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