Todd Decker, Chair of the Department of Music, spoke on Fred Astaire and George Gershwin at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. The occasion was a study day titled “Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers: A London Celebration” marking the Victoria and Albert Museum’s acquisition of costumes worn by both stars--in Astaire’s case, a tailcoat and trousers he likely wore in the film Shall We Dance (1937). Todd Decker was the only musicologist on an all-day program with scholars of film, theatre, and fashion from the UK, USA, and Australia. Astaire’s daughter Ava Astaire MacKenzie attended and was briefly interviewed. Decker spoke on pop records made by Astaire and his sister Adele with George Gershwin at the piano in the 1920s. The Victoria and Albert Museum bills itself as “the world’s greatest museum of art, design, and performance” and has an extensive theatre collection which Decker used in his book on Show Boat.
The day before the event, the presenters visited Anderson and Sheppard, the bespoke tailor shop on London’s Savile Row where Astaire had his clothes and costumes made from 1923 on. While there, the pattern cutter made a pattern to Astaire’s measurements.