Vintage Lady of the Week: Judy Garland

Judy Garland 3

I was super excited to do a little research on Judy Garland for this week’s Vintage Lady. However, I guess I should have curbed my enthusiasm a little bit. Her story, unfortunately, is a sad one, with no real happy ending, outside of her enduring fame. It’s always a little bit heart breaking to me- people frequently seem to think that the modern story of the child star spinning out of control and dying too young, is exactly that- a modern story. But it’s a tale that just seems to go back as far as the invention of publicity and celebrity.

Judy Garland (born Frances Ethel Gumm) was born in Minnesota on June 10, 1922. She began her performing career as a vaudeville child performer, along side her two older sisters. She was signed to MGM as a teenager, which I can’t imagine was easy, given how few films pop up on TCM from the 40’s and 50’s, with leading teenagers. Despite this, her career, over the course of almost 40 years, earned her numerous awards, from Grammy awards to Academy Awards and Emmy Awards! Unfortunately, she also struggled with addiction, and ultimately died at the age of 47, from an accidental barbituate overdose. She is best remembered now for her portrayal of Dorothy, in “The Wizard of Oz” (1939). Personally, I never really cared for the film. I loved her costume, but if I had to choose my favorite Judy Garland movie, I would have to line up all the films she starred in with Mickey Rooney, put on a blind fold and throw a dart to choose for me. Her pairing with Rooney was as spectacular, in my opinion, as the pairing of Myrna Loy and William Powell! Rooney and Garland played off each other so well, and were so incredibly adorable together!

As for her costumes, that’s a whole different ball of wax. I’m not a huge fan of about 80% of her costumes, they are either absolutely plain, incredibly childish, or boring. For instance, I loved most of the costumes in “Ziegfeld Girl” (1941), but found all of Judy Garlands costumes in it to look ridiculous.

That is not to say that I hate all of her costumes that she has ever worn. I adored the costumes she wore in “Presenting Lily Mars” (1943). They showcased her stunning beauty so incredibly well. I have particular envy for this costume piece. I love the detailing and cut- it reminds me a little of a bull fighter’s costume. I’d love to make simplified version of this to wear as a summer romper!

Awesome costume, and a fabulous inspiration for a romper!

I had such trouble finding a good picture of this beautiful and sophisticated dress from “Summer Stock” (1950). But if I were ranking my favorite costumes of Judy Garland, this beautiful dress would be almost tied with the romper costume. The skirt is a fantastic creation, and I’m super annoyed that I couldn’t find any pictures with the skirt showing. But trust me- it’s stunning. The lace on the bodice adds for elegance and opulence, without pushing the whole dress over the top. A+!

Summer Stock

This is another costume from “Presenting Lily Mars”, and I absolutely love how ethereal it is, with the transparent fabric and a few flashes of sparkle. I covet dresses like this. It’s entirely feminine without being weak and insipid, and the crisp texture of the fabric seems to be imbued the the perk and spunk that her characters so often had on screen.

Judy Garland Lily Mars Dress

I also have a special place in my heart for Hollywood-Does-the-1900’s costumes. The sillouette and the shape of this dress in particular is so stunning. The dress is from “Meet Me in St. Louis” (1944), and I just love the white lace against the red fabric. But the really amazing detailing is almost unnoticable- look closely at the cuffs of the sleeves. At first, it looks like they just have beads or sequins on them. But no! Look at that beautiful craftsmanship! it looks like maybe hemstitiching? And since we are going over this dress with a magnifying glass now, look at the quilted grapes on the skirt! So much beautiful attention to detail, and it almost gets overlooked!

MMISLouisEsther2Dress

What do you think of the costumes? Do you have a favorite Judy Garland movie?

Vintage Lady of the Week: KATHARINE HEPBURN

Katharine Hepburn was an odd duck. From her deep, husky voice, to her handsome (but not beautiful) looks, to her bizarre behavior, she remains some one who defies conventions. She was alternately described as strong, and stubborn; independent, and pig-headed. Besides being a phenomenal actress, she is next best known for her unofficial relationship with Spencer Tracy.

The story of Katharine Hepburn’s life, her rise to stardom, and her dalliances, is a long and twisting tale. You can find it on Wikipedia, or in a plethora of biographies. I’m just going to focus on her costumes! And -oh!- what costumes she had!

First up is this feminine tuxedo, from “Woman of the Year” (1942). Katharine Hepburn was infamous for her pants. At the time, pants were far from the norm in women’s wear. I read once that she showed up to a rehearsal once in blue jeans (gasp! the scandal!), and the director absolutely lost it. He apparently banned her from the theater until she put on a skirt, so she wrapped a burlap bag around her waist. Is it true? I have no idea, but given everything I’ve read about her behavior, it really wouldn’t surprise me.

Woman of the Year

Second is this dress from “Holiday” (1938). The dress itself is simple, not particularly close fitting, and rather plain, besides the scarf. What I find so appealing is that she was able to do a somersault from Cary Grants shoulders, and landed it! In a full length dress!!!! Mind boggling.

holiday-1938-cary-grant-katharine-hepburn-1938-3

This stunning evening dress showed up in “The Philadelphia Story” (1940). The bead work alone makes me absolutely drool. What I wouldn’t do for this dress? The sleeve are interesting as well. This is definitely on my list of things to recreate. It’s just STUNNING!!

KH Philadelphia Story

Next is this stunning lamé gown from “Bringing Up Baby”(1938). I adore this fabric, but hate working with it, so this particular dress is not really on my sewing list. The cut and construction are beautiful, and you can see the attention to detail present in it. Look at the fringe on the bodice. And, if you have seen the movie, how about that tear away panel on the skirt! 🙂

KH Bringing Up Baby

I  have this dress last, because I feel that although it is an absolutely stunning dress, it just doesn’t seem to fit with Katharine Hepburn’s personality. It seems entirely to structured, and not at all in line with the fiery independent spirit seen both in her personal life and in the character she played in “Adam’s Rib”(1949). I couldn’t find any good images of this costume in the film. But you can see how sumptuous construction is!

KH Adams Rib

Well, that’s all I have for this week. What do you think of Katharine Hepburn? What do you think is her best film?

 

Vintage Lady of the Week: MYRNA LOY

myrna-loy

The first black-and-white movie I ever saw was “After the Thin Man”. It would be another five years until I got cable, and discovered the Turner Classic Movies channel (as far as my mother is concerned, my discovery of said channel was possibly the worst event of her life- she now has to stipulate “Made after 1986, in color, with living actors!” when I turn on the TV). But the image of Myrna Loy, with her elfin face, smartly curled hair, and witty lines, stuck with me. Imagine my glee when I found out that she had made many, MANY movies, and many of them with William Powell, who I feel is absolutely the best of her co-stars!

Myrna Loy started off her career as a dancer, and entered Hollywood before “talkies” had started. She frequently played Asian characters, or nominal chorus characters. As a matter of fact, you can spot her at the end of “The Jazz Singer”, which is a sort of bridge between the silent movies and the “talkie” movies. It wasn’t until she was cast in “The Thin Man” that her career really took off.

One thing that I hadn’t know, and that made me really happy, was that she was the first celebrity to get involved with UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), and was also a co-chairman of the Advisory Council of the National Committee Against Discrimination in Housing. While it is nice when celebrities get involved with animal rights, there is something incredibly heart warming to me about celebrities who were involved with human rights causes, before they were de rigueur.

Which is absolutely not to say that I’m not all for animal rights, too.

But I digress.

I now present you with absolutely my favorite of her costumes. Few and far between are the Myrna Loy costumes that I don’t like, so this took some concerted effort, to not just present you with a catalogue of all 500 of my favorite costumes.

The first one I have for you just has to be this lounging ensemble from “The Thin Man” (1934). I love 1930’s fashion, and I would dearly love to one day make a replica of this set. It is a silk dress with a frilled collar thing and cuffs, underneath a robe. How do I know this? At the very beginning of “After the Thin Man” (1935), we see almost the exact same robe (there is a change in the collar style), while the dress is being used to wrap a martini shaker. You can tell by that frilly collar thing. …Yes. I have watched “The Thin Man” movies so many times that I have commited them to memory….

The thin Man 1934

The Thin Man (1934)

After the Thin Man (1936).

After the Thin Man (1936)

 

Second up, I have this simple gown that looks like it has been painted onto her body with liquid latex, from “Libeled Lady” (1935). I love the fit of this dress, and the metallic sheen it has. And on Myrna Loy, it looks dynamite! If I wore it, I’d look like a stuffed sausage. ::le sigh::

ML Libeled Lady
Next I have her wonderful costumes from “After the Thin Man” (1935). She wore a few dresses that had sheer over lays dripping with embroidery. I like the way it looks, very ethereal, which seems almost contradictory in a tailored garment. I also love the hats she wears. They are … well they certainly are screwy, aren’t they!

ML Shadow of the Thin Man
Finally, I have this dressing gown, from “Third Finger, Left Hand” (1940). I always drool over beading on vintage costumes, and I am working on convincing myself that this particular beading pattern might not take TOO long. Not that I know anything about beading, but I feel like it’s good to have insane aspirations, like reproducing this piece!

ML Third Finger Left Hand

 

Is that it? It is for today. I could probably keep going, but this seams like a good stopping point.

What about you? Do you like Myrna Loy? What do you think is her best movie?

Vintage Lady of the Week: DORIS DAY

I adore Doris Day. Her spunky characters never ceased to amuse me, and I love her voice. I have to be honest, I once spent an entire summer, after watching “Romance on the High Seas”, belting out “Put ’em in a Box, Tie ’em with a Ribbon and Throw ’em in the Deep Blue Sea” over and over and over again. I’m not sure that my neighbors were too thrilled with this, but maybe they welcomed a break from my waaaaaaaaaaaay flat-and-sharp rendition of “Phantom of the Opera” songs (I sing while I work, partially to humor the green monster, Jack, and partially because I just love to sing.)

Jack demands more singing!!!

Jack demands more singing!!!

The story of how Doris Day  ended up in Hollywood is both heart warming and comical, much like many of her movies. She was originally a singer with a band. In 1947, she did an audition for “Romance on the High Seas”.  According to an interview I heard, when she got the call telling her she had been cast, she thought it was a joke set up by her manager! The role of Georgia led to a 20 year career in Hollywood, during which she made 39 movies. Now there is a woman who kept herself busy! I can appreciate that. 🙂

When I first saw “Romance on the High Seas”, I fell in love with her wardrobe, her voice, and pretty much everything else about her.  But enough about that! Here are my top wardrobe picks !

First up is her zany “Matahari”-esque costume from “The Glass Bottom Boat” (1966). It was a toss up between this one and her orange mermaid outfit. Both of them are over the top, colorful, and hilarious. While I’m not exactly dying to make a reproduction of this, it never ceases to put a smile on my face! 🙂

The Glass Bottom Boat (1960)

Second is definitely the blue dress from “Romance on the High Seas” (1948). The bead work is stunning, and it fits her like a glove. If you watch the movie carefully, you may notice that she seems to move from her hips, and her torso seems to sway, a fraction of a minute behind the rest of her body. This sometimes happens with a rigid internal structure, like a corset, or lots of boning. It would have helped provide support (let’s face it, sleeveless bodices sometimes need more than wardrobe tape to stay up), and also shaping, for that beautiful silhouette she had. Also, I am IN LOVE with that little shoulder cape!

Doris Day 1

 

I’m starting to notice that many of my favorite costumes for Doris Day are blue. She just looks fabulous in blue! This is third on my list, a wonderful gown from “Love Me or Leave Me” (1955). I love formal gowns from times gone by, the beading, the layering in the skirts… the cunning use of high slits that do not scream “I”M A TRAMP!!!!”. Of all the blues I’ve seen her in, I think this shade looks the best. She almost looks like her skin is made of porcelain!

DD love me or leave me 1955

Fourth up is one of the first costumes she wore in “Please, Don’t Eat the Daisies” (1960). The dress itself is simple enough, but that great big flower on the front makes it a show stopper. Or a conversation starter. I  think maybe I like the idea of this dress, combining an eye-catching adornment with something sleek, to keep it from being boring.

DD Please Don't Eat the Daisies

 

Well, that’s all. What do you think of them? What costumes of hers do you like?

 

 

Vintage Lady of the Week: GINGER ROGERS

I adore Ginger Rogers. I especially love her movies with Fred Astaire. For all of the stories I read and heard about, on how they fought all of the time, they danced marvelously together.

I always loved Ginger Rogers for her grace and poise, and her elegance. These are qualities that I frequently think are starting to disappear in modern society. Goblins know I am lacking them!! Her costumes, and her clothes, were always stunning (except for the naughty little lingerie pictures I found!!), which made my selection a little more difficult.

First up is the soft, fluffy dress she wore in “The Gay Divorcee” (1934). The fabric was so lightweight that it almost billowed around her like clouds, and the detailing in the skirt was stunning. This one is definitely on my “To make” list!

Image

Second is every costume she wore in “The Barclays of Broadway” (1949), but most especially this gorgeous gold dress she wears in the opening number.  On the dress form, it is reminiscent of the white dress that Marilyn Monroe wore in “The Seven Year Itch”. However, the skirt is an interesting sort of deflated-balloon design, which look fascinating every time she spun in the dance number.

ImageImage

Third is… this… thing… for “Top Hat” (1935). Okay, I’m going to be really honest- all of the fluff up around her neck makes her look like some sort of deranged ostrich. Its the skirt that I’m crazy about. I love the play in textures this dress has, from the silky satin body to the fluffy, floating feathers.

Image

Lastly (not because I ran out of dresses. I could have gone on and on until the skies fell down!!), is this dress from “Lady in the Dark” (1944). It’s so flashy, and so decadent at the same time, with the touches of fur. I mean, WOW! Show stopping!

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What about you? What movies of Ginger Rogers do you like? What do you think were her best costumes?

CIBA Sunday: Apologies From a Slacker, and the First Article

Ahhh, my master plan to create the CIBA archive for students! It was so well intentioned, and yet, fell apart so completely by my inability to figure out how to make a multi-page PDF file.

It’s such a lame excuse.

I have figured out how to make a PDF, now, and I have been slowly, but surely, scanning all 175 of my CIBA Reviews. It’s a process.

I apologize

Now, on with the first article!!!

Spanish leather hanging

Spanish leather hanging

I think I may have said, many, many, many months ago that I am starting off with the first volume in my collection. That is to say, I’m starting off with Volume 3, because I don’t have volumes 1 or 2.  Volume 3 is all about wall coverings. Tapestries, wall hangings, wall paper, curtains. If it can cover a wall, it’s covered in the articles.

 17th cen spanish hanging

17th century Spanish hanging

The first article is a fairly informative one, by Grete de Francesco, in November of 1937. In fact, at least for this volume, she appears to have written the majority of the articles. The first article, which you can download at the bottom of this post, in a PDF, is entitled “The History of Mural Hangings”. It sounds a little dry, but the pictures in the article are stunning, dating back at least as far as the 16th century.  The article briefly explains the practical functions of mural hanging, as well as the aesthetics; it then goes on to trace the evolution of wall paper from the “humble” origins as hangings.

 17th cen wallpaper

17th century wallpaper

There is a detailed explanation of the method of creating Cordova leathers, which were popular as wall hangings from the 11th to the 16th century. These were gold or silver leafed leathers, which were then painted with various colored lacquers. De Francesco compared the resulting works to silk and gold (or silver) weaving, which at the time, with silk being a costly import from Asia, would have been even more expensive than the Cordova leather panels!

 Embossed leather and flock paper

Embossed leather and flock paper

The Rococo and Baroque eras departed from the costly tapestries, silks and leather hangings, and instead favored painted panels on the walls. De Francesco accredited the popularity of this style to Marie Antoinette. In addition, this painted wall panelling trickled down to the middle classes in the form of wallpapers, which were more affordable, if not as intricate and detailed, as the paintings in the homes and halls of the nobles.

The History of Mural Hangings (Full Article PDF. Zoom to read!)