Posts Tagged ‘Old Hollywood Glamour’


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.


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


Greta GarboMata Hari , 1931


Jean HarlowDinner at Eight, 1933


Joan Crawford Grand Hotel,  1932


Katherine Hepburn The Philadelphia Story, 1940


Jeanette MacDonaldThe Firefly, 1937


Norma ShearerMarie Antoinette, 1938

Hedy LamarrThe Great Ziegfeld, 1936

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

Orange Chiffon Cake paired with Old Hollywood Glamour

Posted by Winifred on May 11th, 2014  •  No Comments »

Oh, we had been absolutely spent! Days of fighting with interior designer, Billy Haines, over 100-year old hand painted Chinese wall coverings and the specific velvet drapings for our vanity. We had almost completed handwritten notes inviting friends to our new Roland E. Coate designed home, when we ran out of our Mrs. John L. Strong stationery. We had yet to receive our custom made Ferragamo sandals and the recent fitting for the Robert Piguet gown in which to float around from room to room, air kissing our Hollywood friends, did not help us with our most important decision…would we wear a turban or was the over the shoulder draping dramatic enough?


The party was all we could do from falling into a slump. We had just met with executives at MGM to discuss the part of Nora on ‘The Thin Man’ series. W.S. Van Dyke wanted William Powell to play the part of Nick, the glamorous socialite Nora’s husband, and for the couple to have an affectionate banter and friendship style of marriage. We were thrilled to have an opportunity to play opposite William Powell, but in the end, contractual agreements prevented us from taking on the role. We had already been fitted by costume designer Edith Head for a film noir. The part of Nora went to Myrna Loy. The studio system be damned!


The only thing to do was to swing our Figoni et Falaschi Talbot-Lago T150-C by Hollywood and Vine and take our regular table at the Brown Derby.


It was certainly not quiet or peaceful, what one would expect we would need after such harrowing days. But the Brown Derby was home; there was comfort in the food, the service and in being seen in our freshly curled hair. Carole was there with Clark. We never much liked her in a hat. We made sure to confirm attending each other’s party, but do hope she won’t serve us dinner on the floor this time…


Kay Francis was there and oh, was she dressed! We already had some of her Orry-Kelly gowns made.


Dietrich was there, in a veil, distant eyes, with a cigarette working over beef stew. We stopped by to make fun of her for the nightclub number in Blond Venus. She seemed sufficiently shamed for the ape costume and blond afro.


Then we sat down for a Cobb salad. Bob Cobb always made sure to save us a generous piece of orange chiffon cake. Clark and we finished off the last of it. Cary, Myrna and Ava had to settle for the grapefruit cake. Our stomachs full and banter had, we braced ourselves for the next task – unearthing our Globe-Trotter trunks.


The Mister and we are sailing off for the Island of Guidecca for a languorous stay at Casa Frollo. We have sent the recipe for chiffon cake ahead…


Orange Chiffon Cake
From Lost Desserts By Gail Monaghan

For the orange chiffon cake:
2 1/4 cups of cake flour
1 1/4 cups superfine sugar
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
5 large eggs, separated, plus 3 egg whites – at room temperature
1/2 cup of canola oil
3 tablespoons of orange zest
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup of granulated sugar

For the orange icing:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups of confectioners’ sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons orange juice
Grated zest of 2 large oranges
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees.

Sift together the flour, superfine sugar, baking powder, and salt onto parchment paper or into a medium size mixing bowl. Then sift again.

In another large glass bowl, vigorously whisk the 5 egg yolks, oil, orange zest, vanilla, and 3/4 cup of water until smooth. About 2 to 3 minutes. Gradually add the flour mixture and whisk to just combine.

Using the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the 8 egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until very soft peaks form. Gradually add the granulated sugar and increase the speed to high. Beat until peaks are stiff but not dry.

Using a rubber spatula, fold one-quarter of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture. Pour the egg mixture over the remaining egg whites and fold together until just combined, but completely incorporated. Scrape batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube or angel food cake pan with a removable bottom. Smooth the top and bake in the lower third of the oven; check after 30 minutes, if the cake is browning too quickly, lightly rest a piece of foil over it. Bake until the top springs back when lightly pressed and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 55 to 65 minutes. Remove from oven and cool upside down on built in prongs or a bottle (wine bottle works well) – with the bottle neck through the hole, until completely cool – about 1 1/2 hours.

To unmold, slide a thin knife around the cake to detach it from the pan, pressing the knife against the pan to avoid tearing the cake. Use the knife to detach the cake from the center tube: pull the tube upward to remove the cake from the pan side. Slide the knife under the cake to detach it from the bottom. Invert and let the cake drop onto your hand or a serving platter.

For the icing, in a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Remove from the heat and sir in the confectioners’ sugar, orange juice, zest and salt. Turn the heat down as low as possible and return the saucepan to the heat. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and beat (briefly for a pourable glaze or several minutes for a spreadable icing). You can place the sauce pan in a larger pan of ice water to speed the process. Stir in the vanilla and drizzle the glaze over or spread the icing on the cake. Let set before serving.

Images Via Pinterest, Heatherhomemade

Posted in : A Taste Refined, Classic Films, Looks we Love, On Style, Travel, Vintage Fashion  •  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The face of Gene Tierney in ‘Laura’

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

We do remember that face from Leave Her to Heaven and The Razor’s Edge, but the face was even more incredible in Laura.


That face belongs to Gene Tierney, and while make-up and lighting are always masterful in Films Noir, this face was that and more.


We do credit Guy Pearce with creating tricks of eyeliner that elongate the shape of the eye, and placing highlighter on the inner corners gives brightness and definition as well. Using eyeliner under the eye to give the illusion of shadows from the lashes – Tierney gave a devastating eye.


Then there were those lashes, impossibly thin long peaks of lash, so long they covered her lower lid yet seemed almost not there. They had a way of brightening the eyes, making them pop right open. Llama eyes without the heavy llama lash. What’s stunning about the photography of that time, is that even in black and white you see color. You feel certain that you are seeing green in those eyes, that blueish green of Mediterranean waters.


The look is so fresh, so bright, so completely focused on shaping the face, widening the eyes, bright sparkling, piercing eyes, a small straight nose, not a button exactly, but shapeless. Unnoticed with those eyes, because the next thing your eye does, is travel to Gene’s mouth.


We are more than a fan of a defined lip, we demand it. We rarely see a beautiful mouth. A nice lip, lovely colors, yes, all the time. But Guy Pearce really elevated this already shapely lip; more than just a swipe of lipstick, this is art, a signature shape, defined to frame the face…These lips are more rare. We see a commitment to shape, to architectural lines of the face, drawn with specificity, perhaps with concealer, drawing out, the essence of her.

We see in our future a project: the search for an artist who can capture our face, the best of our eyes, nose and mouth, the defining lines, the creation of our signature…

Images Via Pinterest

Posted in : Classic Films  •  Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Mogambo or Red Dust?

Posted by Winifred on April 18th, 2014  •  No Comments »


We watched Mogambo, 1953, because we were interested in more of Clark Gable’s work and also Ava Gardner’s. Of course we are always a bit hesitant to watch any film shot in Africa knowing that the storyline will be unflattering to natives. There was plenty of ordering natives about, throwing towels at them, unflattering speak behind their backs. Once we accepted that as part of the trial we would have to go through, we settled in for the story. A love triangle set in Africa, with Clark Gable in the lead as a game hunter, and Ava Gardner as a showgirl looking to meet a rich maharajah who did not show. That part of the story seemed to us a bit flimsy, and we actually read it as her looking for an excuse to escape somewhere, not that there really had been any setting of a meeting.

Given how quickly she then started a relationship with Gable, this seemed all the more so. After a few days of frolicking in the wild, a third party enters the scene. Grace Kelly and her husband, who want to film gorillas. Gable then falls for Kelly while taking care of her husband who conveniently falls ill. By the time he recovers, Kelly and Gable are mad for each other and Gardner is the woman scorned left to take it all in.

We did like Gardner with Gable, but her sad pining quickly wore thin next to Kelly’s grace. More and more she looked used up with nothing left to offer, and Kelly though not giving her greatest performance still resonated as the better choice. What we did not know is that Mogambo is a remake of Red Dust from 1932. We watched Red Dust after and were surprised we liked it better. Red Dust also starred Gable, 21 years younger and not much better, we were pleased to say. This time Jean Harlow is a prostitute on the run and Mary Astor the wife of a new employee. The location Indo China, the setting a rubber plantation.


Harlow’s role was considered much racier than Gardner’s, primarily because, as was mostly the case for a Harlow role, her breasts were not confined to a bra and she was consistently jiggling and bending about in flouncy, low cut dresses. There was also a bit more heat between she and Gable as he went, in a flash, from high levels of irritation to presumptuous and forward. But what made it fun was Harlow’s character; rather than being sad and forlorn she was also gutsy, playful and wild. In a cute scene she is bathing in an outdoor shower when Gable asks her to use the curtain so as not to offend Astor. Harlow then jumps in a barrel and finishes bathing there just as Astor comes out and sees them.

Though Red Dust has the same colonialist racism, with plenty of unflattering depictions of Asians, what made it better was that it had none of the bad discrepancies of Mogambo which struggled to combine clear set footage of the actors with raw documentary footage of African wildlife. Some of it so blatant as to appear cartoonish.

Both stories could have benefited from a better ending. Gable, after feeling some guilt over breaking up a marriage, decides to make his lover believe that he does not want her and wants her to go back to her husband. After sending off husband and wife, he then turns to his discards, now wanting them back. That disappointed a bit, particularly for Harlow who would seem far too brassy to accept second best. Even Gardner would not seem the kind to take him back, simply for the long suffering she was made to endure.

Neither movie tops any lists, but Magambo was particularly dry and slow where Red Dust offered levity and more sparks. If you must watch one, we enjoy Mary Astor and Jean Harlow’s breasts do entertain. A young, oft shouting Clark Gable works well, and frankly, difficult as it already is to watch classic films, the disrespect heaped upon the Southeast Asians hurt a bit less. Sorry…

Images Via Wooden boat, Doctormacro

Posted in : Classic Films  •  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,