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?

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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: 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?