What A Way to Go indeed! Edith Head’s costume designs

I’ve been reading one of Edith Head’s biographies and have come to her work on What A Way To Go with Shirley MacClaine and Robert Mitchum as well as Dean Martin, Gene Kelly, Paul Newman and Dick Van Dyke. This 5 minute clip will give you a quick look at a few of  the fabulous costumes from this movie.  Apparently Mitchum and MacClaine were having an affair at the time so their constant I-love-you’s might not have been all that hard to utter.  And, yes this is a movie for which her work was nominated for an Oscar for Costume Design.  If you love costumes, Edith Head or just a silly movie this fits the bill.   Check it out!

Born on this day – Edith Head

Edith Head – Costumer Designer Extraordinaire

The blogosphere will be popping with plenty of tributes to the Divine Miss H. She worked on almost 500 films and dressed the biggest stars in Hollywood.  For me it would be impossible to pick a favorite dress or movie.   Here is my small tribute with a few favorite sketches, quotes and a bibliography where you can slowly drink up all the talent, controversy and inspiration that is Edith Head.

Continue reading

50th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s death – August 5th

Seems like only 25 years ago doesn’t it?  If you notice more Marilyn Monroe related posts, photos and retrospective’s popping up, well the big 5-0 is the reason.   There are new “never before seen” photos of Monroe being brought to daylight everywhere.   Salvatore Ferragamo is having an exhibit in Florence, Italy of the clothes and shoes she wore. This exhibit is one where it presents Marilyn as fine art which in itself is a refreshing take.  There are countless Marilyn Monroe film festivals going on all over the world and look-alike contests with both men and women. Always interesting.  Publishing houses know this is a golden opportunity to sell actual REAL books.  (Can’t image a book on Marilyn on a Kindle.)  My favorite pictorial peek at the divine Miss M is this beauty –  Marilyn in Fashion: The Enduring Influence of Marilyn Monroe.

I think this is such a brilliant way to showcase Marilyn.  From the beautiful cover photo to the last page it shows Marilyn as a style trendsetter rather than  tragic movie star.  It celebrates her style, the designers who clothed her and the wonderful era of the 40’s and 50’s.  50’s fashion is well-known for the Dior “New Look”, full skirts, nipped in waists and so on.  Marilyn’s look was far more sexy and bold and you see it  in what she wore on camera as well as off.

It’s easy to overlook Marilyn as a style icon but wholly as a sex symbol, larger than life ‘Movie Star’.   Written by well-known fashion historian and expert Christopher Nickens along with George Zeno they lovingly showcase her lasting influence on fashion.  They give us a look into the early years through the end when her style had established itself as more sophisticated and sexy look.  All the big numbers are here; the dress from 7 Year Itch, the gowns from How to Marry a Millionaire to the Zowie! dress she wore for President Kennedy and so much more.  My favorite if I had to pick are the costumes from Niagara.  I love watching this movie just to see her wear those clothes.   What I like is the use of color and the noir camera work (Joseph MacDonald) especially in the bell tower scene.  The Lucite box handbag, the Chartreuse hanky, the white blouse.  It’s all perfect.  And, so was Marilyn in all her imperfect, glorious, Technicolor mess.  

Have you experienced any Marilyn Monroe retrospective’s or viewed any of her films?  What do you think of her as a fashion icon?  A term that is bandied about with much liberality in my opinion.  Please let me know your thoughts.

A bit of dance and romance to forget all our troubles

Oh my.  I have been using my time wisely.  I have this new blog that I follow Beguiling Hollywood and it  has revived my  love of old movies.  Way back in the old days our local channel 2 would show old movies on Sundays and in the wee hours of the night.   I watched countless old movies from Charlie Chaplin to grand musicals, old fashioned love stories, war movies and everything in between.  My first choices to revisit were classic Fred and Ginger.  Swing Time and Top Hat.  I would go back over and over to view the dance numbers and find myself being completely transported to this dreamy, happy place of beautiful people in glorious dresses dancing cheek to cheek.   From Swing Time Fred is doing the  Bojangles of Harlem number and it is stunning in its modernity with the three shadows dancing behind him.  Come to find that idea of the shadows was from Hermes Pan choreographer and long time close friend to Astaire.

Of course my favorite from Top Hat is the feathers dance or Cheek to Cheek number.  That dance and the dress too has a rightful place in dance and movie history.   The feathers dress was blue and must have been beautiful to see in person.  It is now housed in the Smithsonian.  Google it, You-tube it, Wiki it whatever, it’s awesome.  For both movies the costume designer was Bernard Newman.  Beautiful designs and a master at dressing Miss Rogers.  But, credit also goes to Rogers who  from being a dancer and someone who loved fashion knew the value of having the right costume and  didn’t let the clothes wear her.  When you watch her dance notice what she does with a dress, how she swings it, holds it and so forth.  Even in scenes where she is not dancing you will see her do these tiny gestures with her costume. I believe these were her own costume notes to herself.  Like early on in Top Hat notice what she does with the silky robe. Cool.

I was reading about Ginger Rogers and her dancing technique and how that particular swing of skirts harkens back to a form of dance called Skirt Dancing.  This form of dance has a unique and beautiful history that is well worth reading.  There is folkloric skirt dancing as well as a more modern version that became popular at Folies Bergere.   Two of the most popular Skirt Dancers were Cyrene from Spain and Loie Fuller, French.  Here is a look at Loie Fuller (or it may be a student, some say it’s not her).  It’s beautiful, sensual and hypnotic.  These skirts used upwards of 100 yards of fabric.  She created the lightning techniques as well.

When you see Ginger dance you see a bit of the Skirt Dancer too.  And, one final note an early student of Loie Fuller was none other than Isadora Duncan.  Loie Fuller was an amazing woman and really worth checking out if you are interested at all in the history of dance.   Now, there are far better writers on the subject of dance, Hollywood, movies and so forth, my little post is just a taste, but I hope you go out and investigate these treasures further.   For me I’m going to steal away and watch the documentary Ballet Russes.  

The Great Gatsby, Baz Luhrmann and the beautiful 20’s

Vicki Lester (name might ring a bell for some) writes the blog Beguiling Hollywood, offering  glimpses, analysis, and juicy tidbits on old and new Hollywood.  She mentioned that the new Baz Luhrmann The Great Gatsby trailer is out.  The movie stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey McGuire and Carey Mulligan as Daisy. Take a look below.  It looks like Baz is certainly giving it his touch. What do you think. It’s coming out in December.

I think this resurgence for the delicious  and de-lovely clothes of the 20’s is a wonderful thing.

Here is a look at Dicaprio and McGuire in Brooks Brothers suits.

The Great Gatsby 2012

The men’s costumes are designed by Brooks Brothers.  The women’s costume designer, which from what is presented in the trailer are stunning.  The designer Catherine Martin Baz’s wife and collaborator is an amazing costume designer creating costumes for Moulin Rouge. Here is a great interview with Catherine Martin regarding the costumes for MR as well her design ethics and process.  Gossip around the w.w.w. was that Mucci Prada and Ralph Lauren were all thought to be the designer for the movie.  So I wonder if Ralph Lauren did the collection as a nod to the 1974 movie or maybe there was something else going on.

You may know that Ralph Lauren was the costume designer for the 1974 version directed by Francis Ford Coppola.   Fashionistas will  recall the 1920’s inspired Spring 2012 RTW collection by Mr. Lauren.  Below are a few examples. Plus I have more on my Pintrest if you are interested in looking at this beautiful collection.  And, I have a ton, a TON I say of images on the Tumblr site The Blue Thread too.  Love that period.

Ralph Lauren Spring 2012 RTW

Ralph Lauren Spring 2012 RTW

Ralph Lauren Spring 2012 RTW

Any opinions on the remake?  Are you a stalwart fan of the Redford/Farrow version.  Do you think it did justice to Fitzgerald?  DiCaprio as Gatsby?  McGuire and his monotone voice is not making me happy but then it was only 2 minutes of video.   Regardless I think the gorgeous costumes will lure me in.

What do you think?

The Complex – Wardrobe synopsis II

Never would I have imagined having 2 posts on The Complex but here is a wrap up of an additional character and the wardrobe choices.

Next is the character of Sloppy Girl.  Her life is as much of a mess as her wardrobe.  She’s late, she’s been evicted, she’s got the Denver Boot on her car.  Now she’s throwing up on the director at an audition, her love life is complicated, she just had ‘reckless sex’ with the Aussie. She has to take public transit. Oh, and she is here illegally…from Toronto.  I found that amusing.  I’m guessing having her from south of the border would have been too controversial.

Anyhoo, she looks like she lives in her car.  And, she almost does when the nerdy but sweetly, casually dressed ethically nondescript comic wannabe gets her a place in The Complex.

I loved watching Gossip Girl  for the visual feast my eyes gobbled up every week. Don’t get me started on the tall blond chick who learned acting from a watching Yo Gabba Gabba with the sound off  but man the clothes were divine.  And, Schmeister, Meister, Maleficent whatever her name and the boys, just beautiful. The Complex dwellers are definitely not wearing couture.   It will be interesting to see Sloppy Girl’s wardrobe evolve as she no doubt will become a rising star in this faux Hollywood.

So, it’s all here! Tight bodies, jiggly parts, good looking people, minimal pathos and no Ringer type complicated plot lines where one needs a flow chart every week to figure out what the hell is going on.   You can even see the upcoming train wrecks. The Dancer with the Heart of Gold, you know she is going to get addicted to bath salts, vodka suppositories or whatever the drug de jour is and spiral completely out of control.   And, the aging actress (who is like 26 )with the over shaped brows, (I shall call her Gloria) I’m thinking at the least murder or suicide.  Or both!  Can’t wait!

Did you tune in?  I’m I crazy for tuning in, let alone watching the entire show?  What did you like or not about the show. Any thoughts on the wardrobe choices?