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!

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