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.

November 16, 2014

"Coats by Adrian"

During the Golden Age of Hollywood, MGM costumer, Gilbert Adrian was one of THE greatest  fashion innovators, famed for the legendary day and evening wear he designed for the Studio's A-list stars.
Less flashy, but equally intricate and beautifully structured, were his softly tailored coats. Below, Norma Shearer, Robert Montgomery, Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford model some seldom seen  Adrian outerwear, just in time for the chilly season.

Robert Montgomery

Ah, the classic trench coat!  Worn by MGM's up and coming leading man, Robert Montgomery in the 1931 film "Private Lives". Robert was Norma Shearer's personal choice as co-star for the adaptation of Noel Coward's smash 1930 Broadway and London production. He wore it so well that Vanity Fair magazine featured this photo by Tony von Horn, one of the first female photographers at Conde Nast.

Vanity Fair-September, 1931

Robert Montgomery in MGM publicity still-1931

Norma Shearer

Classy, classic Norma Shearer ruled the MGM lot in the early 1930s.  The petite dynamo, who happened to be Mrs. Irving Thalberg, wore some snappy Adrian coats in movies such as Private Lives--adapted from Noel Coward's smash Broadway hit of 1930.

Greta Garbo:
A Woman of Affairs 1928, was a stylish film par excellence.  Greta Garbo was dressed in snappy, sporty looks, and, of course the famous "Green Hat", the title of the book from which the film was adapted.

Jacket, gloves, scarf and 'Green Hat'

Trench coat with plaid lapels from A Woman of Affairs--so chic, it could be worn today.

"A Woman of Affairs" 1928

Full length photo of plaid-lapel coat

The clip below shows Greta Garbo's sense of humor as well as detail of the coat.

Plaid lapels and buckled cuffs with scarf accent

With Dorothy Sebastian in "The Single Standard" 1929

With the advent of the 1930s, styles changed.  The dropped waists were gone and a softer, draped silhouette was in fashion.  For the ultra-stylish 1931 Inspiration, Adrian designed the coat below for Greta Garbo: belted with oversize sleeves, buttoned cuffs and a shawl collar.

Greta Garbo and Robert Montgomery-Inspiration, 1931

 Another view of Garbo's Inspiration coat, without the cap

Adrian's belted ensemble for Garbo from the time of Susan Lenox: Her Fall and Rise,1931, reflects the newer look without sacrificing the tailoring she loved.

Softest, draped tailoring for Garbo, 1931

Joan Crawford:

Adrian's muse, Joan Crawford, definitely got to wear the most interesting of his designs.  The double-breasted, belted wool trench modeled by Joan below, was photographed by Ruth Harriet Louise in 1929.

Photos by Ruth Harriet Louise-1929

The coat from "Possessed" is one of Adrian's most elegantly crafted.  Fabric was pulled through loops at the neck and waist to form what looked like bows. An asymmetrical 1930s hat topped off the amazing look.

"Possessed" 1931

Even the sleeves have the bow-like detail

In "Chained" 1934, a frizzy haired Joan got to wear a rarely seen white wool coat which is so brilliantly cut and sewn, it dazzles this jaded writer and designer. 

Special Guest Star:  Kay Francis

Seldom seen in MGM productions, lovely Kay Francis (below with Charles Bickford) adorned 1930's Passion Flower wearing a knockout Adrian wardrobe, including this classic wool trench.

The amazing thing about Adrian's designs above, was their timeless quality.  Any and all of them could be worn today and considered up to the minute.  That is the mark of true style.
Definitely Crème de la Crème!