Posts Tagged ‘Classic Film’

Adrian

Posted by Winifred on June 25th, 2014  •  No Comments »

We’re having such a time reading about the work of interior designer Tony Duquette, his tutelage under Elsie de Wolfe, his many clients in Old Hollywood and his work with the costume designer Adrian. When Adrian left MGM to open his own Beverly Hills salon, it was Tony Duquette he turned to to create the interiors, advertising and displays.

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Adrian Salon Beverly Hills

 

With “amaze me” as his only directive,  Tony created dipped plaster elephants, plaster lace pagodas, plaster monkeys, bas reliefs and a scene of found objects. Only the artistry of Adrian’s gowns could withstand the dramatics of a Duquette staging. It was Adrian who created the look that would launch Jean Harlow as the original blonde bombshell. Harlow once said that without her hair color Hollywood would never know her name. We suspect those fitted silk gowns cut to accentuate always braless breasts and flow along every curve of her figure, also made her a star in films like Dinner at Eight and Hold Your Man.

We always did find her to have a funny looking face, and don’t much care for the extreme pencil thin eyebrows, even if it was the 1930s. We can’t imagine what her lover, William Powell faced first thing in the morning before they were painted on. Harlow surely slept in make-up…Nevertheless, we came to like her style and her attitude in films like Red Dust. But mostly we love her dresses. It’s what we adore about the 1930s. The decadence, the ultra feminine, the soft yet bold sexy. Though Adrian became better known for his stronger silhouettes created for Joan Crawford, particularly the padded shoulders, he knew how to tailor a dress to glorify any woman’s body and build character through costume.

Born Adrian Adolph Greenberg, the designer became known as Adrian during his career creating costumes for MGM film studios in the 1930s and 1940s. Adrian created costumes for over 200 films, many that we have loved. Dinner at Eight, The Great Ziegfeld, Grand Hotel, Marie Antoinette, Mata Hari, The Philadelphia Story, The Women.  Too many to name, but classic film lovers will not have missed his work.

We thought we would take a detour from our readings on Duquette and celebrate the glamour and design in film costumed by Adrian

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Greta GarboMata Hari , 1931

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Jean HarlowDinner at Eight, 1933

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Joan Crawford Grand Hotel,  1932

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Katherine Hepburn The Philadelphia Story, 1940

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Jeanette MacDonaldThe Firefly, 1937

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Norma ShearerMarie Antoinette, 1938

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Hedy LamarrThe Great Ziegfeld, 1936

Posted in : Classic Films, Head wear, On Style, Vintage Fashion  •  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Should TCM still show films with blackface?

Posted by Winifred on June 19th, 2014  •  No Comments »

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We love William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles in The Thin Man series and are always pleased when we run across an episode on TCM. As Mr. K has recently started to enjoy the work of William Powell, we thought we would introduce him to the series as well, inviting him to join us for Shadow of the Thin Man. It was mere seconds in when we lost him. All it took to ruin Mr. K’s rare interest in a classic film was the appearance of Louise Beavers as the Charles’ maid, wide eyed with open mouth as she struggles to pronounce the word telepathy. This is a frequent routine for us in our efforts to bring Mr. K into our love for classic film. Mr. K starts off open, is soon offended with the appearance of a black actor in a subservient role, and closes the door on TCM until we slowly, weeks or months later can lure him back with the proper star, story or action, preferably along the lines of Bullitt.

A few days after Mr. K sulked through The Thin Man, we saw Barry Cunningham question with disgust why TCM (the Turner Classic Movie Channel) continues to broadcast films depicting blackface. Mr. K understood the question – he would just as soon scrub a number of titles from TCM’s lineup and not just those showing blackface. We no more enjoy Louise Beavers’ eyes popping out of her head than Mr. K does. We just finally experienced an exquisite moment of elegance with Gugu Mbatha-Raw in Belle, an image of a black woman still so rare in media, some 80 years after The Thin Man. We too would prefer to not, each time we turn to TCM, be confronted with only the most racist, unflattering imagery of black men and women, or feel the greatest regret that the 1930s and 40s had no black Gene Tierney, Carol Lombard, or Bette Davis.

Barry Cunningham offers that TCM at least start with a warning label to films depicting blackface, allowing parents, for instance, to determine if such imagery is something they would allow their children to see. We second that, but also wonder if this label would not be appropriate for just about every film with a black cast member say, pre-1970? Let’s look at In The Heat Of The Night. How hard is it to stomach the gallant, debonair, gem that is Sidney Poitier being called “boy” throughout the film? Would a warning label be placed on that? And if Mr. K had his way and we scrubbed TCM’s lineup clean of such offending films, would In The Heat Of The Night, an important film in the history of Black Hollywood, not be one to be edited out?

We have previously written about the difficulty of loving the early 20th century and the disappointments that come with that for a black woman. But we persist in these films because after we close our eyes for the humiliation of actresses like Louise Beavers, we are left with film that is beautiful, that is art, that shows Myrna Loy making 3 outfit changes within a day, that tells of the social norms of that time, the language, the mannerisms. We get a view of history. We saw Barry Cunningham scoff at this concept a bit, and we do not blame him. But as an immigrant we truly appreciate the opportunity to look back.

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We want to know even the unpleasant parts of America. Fortunately on TCM they are served with a side of refinement and style we wished had better endured. We want to know that in 1929 Nina Mae McKinney starred in Hallelujah, the first sound film with an all black cast. We can see for ourselves that despite all efforts to deglamourize her, Nina Mae would have outDietriched Dietrich, outlgamoured Lombard, outposed Garbo.

We would certainly have appreciated a warning for Showboat, letting us know Irene Dunne, who we had just enjoyed in several films including A Guy Named Joe, was going to appear in blackface. Shame on Irene Dunne, but thank you TCM for airing the film and her dirty laundry in effect. Had it not been for TCM, we might not have known and would foolishly have given her a place not deserved. The upside was not missing the opportunity to enjoy the voice of Paul Robeson.

Old Hollywood was for black actors an unbearable time and continuing to show these films is a reminder of a great shame that should not be forgotten. In a small way we feel that not suppressing these works also honors those who had this shame to bear. We quietly do so every time we tune in…

Posted in : Classic Films, In an Ideal World..., On Style, Vintage Fashion  •  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Isabella Blow

Posted by Winifred on October 3rd, 2013  •  No Comments »

They could not be less alike. One a hollywood legend, graceful, quiet, a reclusive film star; the other an exuberant, over-the-top, highly visible, visionary promoter of talent. They were of different eras, different walks of life, of a different style. We watched Irene Dunne in ‘The Awful Truth,’ her hats big dramatic, commanding, and original statements,

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but worn with the effortlessness and nonchalance of a baseball cap. As if they were a mere coincidence or an afterthought. And we immediately thought of the one person who could pull off even bigger, more commanding creations. Not just a wearer of hats, Isabella Blow was the signature of the hat. She was self expression through hats.

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And as we look more closely, Isabella Blow and Irene Dunne shared not just an ability to own a theatrical hat, but they shared generosity, a commitment to ideas and causes they believed in and a spirit that for those who knew them, had impact and endured. Hats off to that…

Images via Buzzfeed

Posted in : Classic Films, Head wear, Vintage Fashion  •  Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Dressing for ‘Dinner at Eight…’

Posted by Winifred on October 1st, 2013  •  No Comments »

Dinner at Eight 1933

Dinner at Eight 1933

Author of “The Lowland” Jhumpa Lahiri, in a recent New York Times interview confessed if she could be any character from literature she would be Sebastian Flyte from “Brideshead Revisited.” She chose him, for the early parts of his life, because she has always wanted to dress for dinner. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Andre Leon Talley lamented the casualness of today’s dress. Repeatedly coming back to the theme of gloves. “It’s about gloves, O.K., darling?” “It’s about gloves. Listen.”

We’re listening, we were drawn to vintage fashion because we too desired to inject more theatre and spectacle into our lives. We were disappointed that Andre Leon Talley had emerald green boots made by Manolo Blahnik to match an emerald green spanish cape made by Nicolas Ghesquière, but did not wear them. He had nowhere to wear them to he said. We felt sure that he was to kind to create the occassion, rather than awaiting it to come.

Rest assured, there is hope for elegant dress yet. The cut out dress by Adrian in the 1933 film Dinner at Eight still has reach on the Fall lineup and even Spring. We will have to do more work to see which gloves to pair with what…

Via Fashion Gone Rogue

Versace F2013

Via Red Carpet Fashion

Carolina Herrera

Style.com

Badgley Miscka

Emilio Pucci

Emilio Pucci

Images Via Fashion Gone Rogue, Red Carpet Fashion, Style

Posted in : Classic Films, On Style, Vintage Fashion  •  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,