AUSTIN -- It's time to find out if die-hard "Gone With the Wind" fans really do give a you-know-what about those fabulous dresses.
The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas in Austin is trying to raise $30,000 to restore five of character Scarlett O'Hara's gowns from the 1939 film.
The dresses include O'Hara's green curtain dress, green velvet gown, burgundy ball gown, blue velvet night gown and her wedding dress. They are part of The Selznick collection which also consists of scripts, photographs, correspondence and business records belonging to David O'Selznick, the film's producer.
Ransom Center officials on Tuesday said most of the costumes worn by actress Vivien Leigh are too fragile to be exhibited. Jill Morena, the Ransom Center's Collection Assistant for Costumes and Personal Effects, says film costumes are usually fragile because they are made to last only for the duration of a film's production.
Morena says some of Scarlett's dresses have weak or loose seams in the shoulders and waistline. "Other gowns have embellishments that need reattachment or need to be secured to the dress, or have areas at the hem that may be torn, detached, or loose," Morena told KVUE in an e-mail.
Before the dresses arrived at the Ransom Center in the 1980s, they were displayed several times, adding to the stress that has been placed on them over the years.
Donations will be used to restore the dresses and buy protective housing and custom mannequins so they can be put on display and audiences of all ages may enjoy pieces from what Associate Curator of Film at the Ransom Center, Steve Wilson, says is the "quintessential Hollywood film."
In an e-mail to KVUE Wilson added, "The character of Scarlett O'Hara resonates with so many people, I think, because despite all the hardships she faces due to war and the financial meltdown of her day, she will do anything to protect her home and, like many of us, is completely confused and bewildered by love."
The Ransom Center is planning a "Gone With the Wind" 75th anniversary exhibit in 2014.
It should be noted "Gone With the Wind" is also part of the 2010 Summer Film Series at the Paramount Theatre in Downtown Austin. It will be shown as the grand finale to the series in September. Click here for more information.
Click here to make a donation to support the costume restoration.