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!

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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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?

A Delayed Christmas Present Part 1

For Christmas this year I got many wonderful gifts from my fantastic family. And they were all spot on for me. There was the iPod so I could run my store on the go, and pajamas, and funky hats, and LOTS of chocolate. But two gifts stood out and made me want to share them.

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This book is from my aunt. For any one out there who is interested in iconic clothing, or cinema, or just getting into seeing and are overwhelmed by available sewing patterns: this is the book for you.

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The book includes full scale patterns and directions for increasingly difficult patterns that range from the polka dot dress in Pretty Woman, one of Audrey Hepburn’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s dresses, and Baby’s pink dress from Dirty Dancing to more historically inspired (and much more complicated) pieces like Catherine Zeta Jones owning costume from Cabaret, Kate Winslet’s evening dress from Titanic and the stunning evening gown that Kiera Knightly wore in Atonement. There are plenty more projects I haven’t mentioned. And yes, Marilyn Monroe’s dress is in there, too!

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What’s even more fun is that each project gives some background on the actress who wore the dress, the film, and the costume designer!

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Once I get the through the sew along, I plan on breaking into the book and sewing my way through it- some of the dresses look like they’ll be intense!!!!

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