December 28, 2014

The Twelve Design Days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, Hollywood gave to me:

The fashion show sequence of 1925's "The Dressmaker from Paris". Travis Banton's first assignment as movie costume designer at Paramount.

On the second day of Christmas, Hollywood gave to me:

The exquisitely beaded gown worn by Swedish newcomer, Greta Garbo, in  her second American film role as "The Temptress", 1926. Costume design: Andre-ani and Max Ree.


On the third day of Christmas, Hollywood gave to me:

"IT", 1927.  Clara Bow as the personification of writer Elinor Glyn's euphemism for sex appeal. Clara's collegial but amazingly classic skirt, sweater and beret by Travis Banton.

On the fourth day of Christmas, Hollywood gave to me:

MGM's first lady and superstar, Norma Shearer, all decked out in head to toe stylish 1920s sportswear.  

On the fifth day of Christmas, Hollywood gave to me: 

Joan Crawford, in 1928s "Our Dancing Daughters", a movie so popular that it started a franchise.  Joan's risqué beaded Charleston dress--seen here from every angle--by the great Adrian.

On the sixth day of Christmas, Hollywood gave to me:

Jean Harlow circa 1930. The original platinum blonde wearing white satin as only she could...

On the seventh day of Christmas, Hollywood gave to me:

Carole Lombard's 1932 potboiler "No Man of Her Own" co-starring a future man of her own: Clark Gable. Lombard's bias cut gown by Travis Banton, featured a fur-trimmed wrap with cascading sash.

On the eighth day of Christmas, Hollywood gave to me:

A costume more famous than its infamous, lawsuit-plagued and never released film.  Joan Crawford wears Adrian's organdy ruffled confection. This dress from 1932s ultra-stylish "Letty Lynton" sold thousands of copies at the height of the Great Depression. 

On the ninth day of Christmas, Hollywood gave to me:

Kay Francis literally sparkles in Orry-Kelly's gown of liquid silver for the steamy Pre-Code film, "Mandalay" 1934.

On the tenth day of Christmas, Hollywood gave to me: 

1937s "Angel" is a fashion must-see. The wardrobe by Travis Banton for Marlene Dietrich IMHO, has never been equaled. Below, lace jabot and cuffs finish off a classic pant suit which could be worn today.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, Hollywood gave to me:

No designer used gingham with such elan as Adrian. For Katharine Hepburn as  socialite Tracy Lord in "The Philadelphia Story" 1940, he paired it with sheer white.  The effect? Down home and innocent...

On the twelfth day of Christmas, Hollywood gave to me:

"Two-Faced Woman" 1941, was both Greta Garbo and Adrian's last MGM film. Constance Bennett, who played Garbo's rival in the movie, dazzled in this gown with amazing back detail.

...and, of course, a Partridge in a Pear Tree.

Wishing you all a Happy and stylish New Year!

 film, fashion & frivolity.


November 24, 2014

Gilda's "Amado Mio" Gown at Auction

On November 24, 2014 TCM & Bonhams presented the CLASSIC MOVIE MEMORABILIA AUCTION.  Among the treasures sold was the Jean Louis designed two-piece gown Rita Hayworth wears in the 1946 film classic, Gilda.

Rita Hayworth in Gilda publicity shot

While Jean Louis' strapless creations for Hayworth get most of the attention, this outfit is unique, elaborate and stunning. The gown is ornately embroidered with gold patterned borders and flowers on white-- baring Rita's midriff.

Photo from the Auction Catalogue

Rita Hayworth getting some stitchery on the set

The dress debuts when Gilda flees Buenos Aires for Montevideo to sing and dance in a Night Club.  Below, the absolutely unforgettable Amado Mio number:

Screenshot showing the back of Gilda's dress

A relaxed Gilda chats with "Tom" in Montevideo

No need for the fur wrap with THIS dress

Perfection in shades of auburn, red and gold

LIFE shoot, 1946: Beverly Hills Hotel-Bob Landry photo

Cover girl-IMAGES DU MONDE, May 1947

Gilda-garbed Ad for Lux Beauty Soap

Hair up or down-the effect is mesmerizing

Lovely Rita Hayworth in a strikingly hued Gilda poster

The above Poster says it all:  There NEVER was a woman like Gilda.  Crème de la Crème all the way!

Postscript:  The costume sold for US$ 161,000!



November 17, 2014

The Art Deco Look of Evelyn Brent

With her curly bobbed hair and perfect profile, petite Evelyn Brent was a stylish actress with serious star power during the 1920s.


When Brent was cast in Josef von Sternberg's 1927 silent classic Underworld costumed by Travis Banton, it was fashion magic. The 'Feathers McCoy' role established her as a tough but chic mobsters moll.

As the girlfriend of gangster "Bull Weed" (George Bancroft) Brent fluttered in an array of feathery hats, dresses and accessories. For Bull's trial, below, she had to tone it down somewhat, but still looked fabulous.

Demure black dress, feathered cloche and pearls

Bull is sentenced to prison, but that doesn't stop our girl.  Together with "Rolls Royce" Wensel (Clive Brook) she plans to bust him out.

"Feathers" waits for Bull's jail break in style

'Feathers' and 'Rolls Royce'

Natalie Dabrova:

In Josef von Sternberg's The Last Command 1928, Evelyn played revolutionary Natalie Dabrova in the scenes which flash back to 1918 Russia.  She was elegant, mysterious and dangerous.  What more could a high-ranking Czarist Officer want?

Emil Jannings' tour de force as the Grand Duke Sergius Alexander won him an Oscar. Evelyn Brent was again gowned by Travis Banton.

Natalie awaits the Grand Duke in gowned splendor

Knowing full well that she and her cohort, (played by William Powell) are revolutionaries, Alexander nevertheless finds himself fascinated by Natalie, even giving her a priceless string of pearls.

Sergius and Natalie, still wearing his gift of pearls

The Duchess or 'Tiger Lady':

In the now 'lost' silent film, His Tiger Lady, Adolphe Menjou plays a stage 'super' whose job it is to sit astride an elephant while wearing a Rajah's costume, in a Follies Revue. He falls in love with a beautiful Duchess, played by Evelyn Brent, whose fascination with the tigers in the Show, make her a regular patron.

Evelyn Brent as the Duchess or 'Tiger Lady'

Always wearing the most dazzling headgear, Evelyn Brent knocked it out of the park in this movie.  The metallic flower- petal skullcap is instantly recognizable.

Costume jewels by Ernest Joseff

Stunning sheer caftan by Travis Banton

Once again, the incredibly beautiful wardrobe was designed by Travis Banton, making Evelyn Brent one of the most elegant women in the movies at the time.

 'The Magpie':
 In Josef von Sternberg's unfortunately 'lost'  1928 silent film, The Drag Net, George Bancroft (Two-Gun Nolan) is once again teamed up with Evelyn Brent (the Magpie).  William Powell is along for the ride as bad guy,  'Dapper Frank Trent'.

Although uncredited, Travis Banton once again designed the costumes, giving Evelyn Brent fabulous furs and feathered skullcaps to go with her avian moniker, 'Magpie'.

Brent wears a two-color feathered cap-with George Bancroft

Feathered skullcap with fur wrap

'The Magpie' Evelyn Brent in fur, before Art Deco backdrop

Another view of knee length fur coat

'The Magpie' by Charles Sheldon-October 1928

William Powell as 'Dapper Frank Trent' with Evelyn Brent

This movie, along with 1927s Underworld not only established Josef von Sternberg as a director of the silent cinema, but made him the master of a whole new genre:  the gangster film.

Deborah Kane:

Evelyn Brent in "Interference"

Interference, 1928 was Paramount's first all talking picture, although it was simultaneously filmed in a silent version.  William Powell, Clive Brook, Doris Kenyon and Evelyn Brent starred.

The ever-stylish Brent, with Travis Banton working overtime in the glittery gown department, played Deborah Kane--an extortionist out to destroy the reputations of Sir John Marley (Brook) and his wife Faith (Kenyon).

Evelyn Brent (with William Powell) as the scheming Deborah  Kane

For (both versions of) Interference, Travis Banton created mostly loungewear for Evelyn Brent, and, it is some of the most luxurious in films to date. Below, several ensembles--the only constant being the metallic turban.

Travis Banton's much-photographed butterfly hostess gown

A rare shot of Brent sitting in the Butterfly hostess gown

Lounging in luxurious hostess pajamas

Deborah hatches her plan--looking way too glam! 

Yet another version of Deborah's lounge look

Brocade fur trimmed jacket; sashed panne velvet pants

In each and every movie outlined above, costume designer Travis Banton demonstrated, as early as the 1920s, that he was one of the most creative forces in the film world.

He turned Evelyn Brent from a pretty young actress into a drop-dead gorgeous, sophisticated fashion plate. Though she went on to make more movies, Brent never again attained the degree of Crème de la Crème glamour created just for her by Travis Banton.