Megan Fox and Jennifer Lopez claim their admiration; Marcia Gay Harden and Kate Beckinsale played her on the big screen. Today, nearly 25 years after her death, designers, stars, and fans continue to emulate the sultry elegance of Ava Gardner’s fashion style. To celebrate her sense of style, this year’s Ava Gardner Festival, October 3-5, will feature a new exhibit entitled Ava’s Closet, which will showcase her personal fashion.
“The Fontana Sisters of Rome, Walter Plunkett of Show Boat-fame, Irene Lentz, Edith Head and Christian Dior are just a few to design costumes and personal clothes for Ava,” stated museum director Deanna Brandenberger. She had the glamour and style that photographers begged to capture and fashion designers clamored to dress. She is listed 25th among the American Film Institute’s Greatest Female Stars.
Friday night’s “Fashion Fling” will officially open the new Ava’s Closet exhibit at 7pm with two new cases: one for evening wear and the other for Ava’s casual clothing and accessories. A reception with Sinatra-style entertainment by The Carolina Crooner, hors d’ oeuvres and beverages will provide the “fling” for the evening. Ticket prices are $25.00 person and the event is the museum’s annual fundraiser to support the operation of the museum.
On Saturday, Oct. 4, from 9-11am, festival goers will meet local designer and Project Runway finalist, Justin LeBlanc, who will give a talk on 3D printing on fabric and mingle with museum visitors. Also on Saturday, visitors will enjoy the new exhibits, a Heritage Tour, and FREE movie screenings. John Huston was a screen writer for The Killers and he directed The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, movies will show at 10am and 2pm respectively. Another tribute to John Huston, The African Queen will run on Sunday at 3pm. The Ava Festival organizers decided to continue film screenings all weekend for Huston fans following the Friday night showing of The Maltese Falcon at NC Museum of Art in Raleigh.
Heritage tours on Saturday will be held throughout the day beginning at 9am, 11:30am, 1:30pm and 3:30pm. The guided tour takes visitors to Ava’s birthplace, to the Brogden Teacherage where she grew up, and to her gravesite at Sunset Memorial Park. All-day admission to the Ava Gardner Museum is $8 and Heritage Tour tickets are $15.
Also on Saturday, the museum has partnered with the Clayton Piano Festival whose theme this year is classical music from the movies. Festival organizers are working with renowned artist and Clayton native, Jonathan Levin to pay tribute to Ava Gardner with a song from Show Boat and a selection of other musical influences in Ava’s movies. The Clayton Piano Festival will be held at The Clayton Center and begins at 7pm. Coffee and desserts will be served after the concert with a meet and greet with Azamat Sydakov, the featured pianist. Tickets are $20.00 per person plus taxes and fees, and are available online at www.theclaytoncenter.com on August 6th.
To make the festival events easier to purchase, the museum is offering the Ava’s Closet Festival Package that includes Friday’s “Fashion Fling”, museum admission all weekend, one heritage tour pass, and one Clayton Piano Festival ticket for $75.00 per person plus tax. This offers a savings of 12% off the purchase of full ticket prices.
The Ava Gardner Museum is located in downtown Smithfield at 325 E. Market Street. Information on these events and advanced ticket purchase is available on the museum website, avagardner.org or by calling 919-934-5830. The museum is open Monday-Saturday, 9am-5pm and Sunday, 2pm-5pm. There will be extended hours during the Festival: Saturday, 9am-6pm, and Sunday, 1-6pm.