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: Audrey Hepburn

It’s hard for me not to be in love with Audrey Hepburn. Maybe it’s her elfin features, or the mischievous characters she frequently played. Or her fantastic fashion sense, both on and off the screen…

Audrey Hepburn

Or her hats. Damn, did that woman wear hats!!!

Audrey Hepburn

Or the fact that she was an honest-to-goblins humanitarian. Maybe it’s a combination of all of those. Looks, talent, fashion sense, and a gigantic heart made of pure gold.

It’s tempting to completely skip going over my most favorite of her costumes, and just write an essay on her humanitarian work. But I’m going to rein myself in a little.

First up on my favorite of her costumes is EVERY SINGLE ONE OF HER COSTUMES FROM “SABRINA”. All of those Givenchy gowns!!! It’s almost like fashion-sensory over load every time I see that movie! I want that wardrobe!

Sabrina 1954

Second are her outrageous period costumes from “My Fair Lady”. I especially love this dress. The simplicity of the lines contrast beautifully with the opulence of the detailing and the jewelry… Okay, maybe that necklace is a little too much. What do you think?

Audrey Hepburn in "My Fair Lady" (1964)

Audrey Hepburn in “My Fair Lady” (1964)

Third, of course, is the black dress from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. No, not the long, body hugging black one. This one. The shorter one. With the feathers. I have a pattern book that has a reproduction pattern for this exact dress. I desperately want to make it, if only to wear it around the house on a rainy day, to play dress ups! That’s in true Holly Golightly style.

Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" (1961)

Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961)

Fourth are the hats she wore in “Charade”. They are all absolutely odd. This movie was my introduction to Audrey Hepburn, and as soon as I saw her hats, I was SOLD. I mean, look at this bizarre elapsed print hat! It’s so strange, and yet, to me at least, oddly attractive. I’m also a huge fan of the yellow coat. It looks fairly simple to reproduce… But try finding canary yellow wool at Joann Fabrics…

Audrey Hepburn in "Charade" (1961)

Audrey Hepburn in “Charade” (1961)

"Charade" (1961)

“Charade” (1961)

 

This concludes my top picks for her costumes. If I had to choose my favorite films of hers, I’d definitely be torn between “Charade” and “Wait Until Dark”.

What about you? What costumes of hers do you like?  What’s your favorite Audry Hepburn movie?

Lady of the Week: Marilyn Monroe

To get my semester off on the right foot, I decided to do some serious research into Marilyn Monroe. Mostly as an excuse to look a pictures of her wonderful wardrobe, to slap a lot of make up on my face, and to watch all of her movies! 🙂

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To save all of us from a heavy dose of depression by telling her bio (which you can read here, but, WOW, have some Prozac on hand!) I’m just going to show you what I think are her absolute BEST costumes and looks!

First up, the sassy orange dress she wore in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” (1953). I know most people immedeately think of the white dress (you know the one), but for me it’s this dress. So few people are able to wear the color orange, with out looking sickly. Marilyn not only pulls off the color wonderfully, it’s a fabulous dress design. Other notable things about the movie (besides the costumes) are the song “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend”, and… well, the copious amount of sparkley jewelry in the film! 🙂

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Second on my list is the white foofy dress from “The Seven Year Itch” (1955), for no other reason than that it’s become such an iconic image. On a quick side note, I had a dress like that once. When I moved to Philadelphia, I stopped wearing it, because every time I walked up the steps from the subway station, my skirt blew up over my head. It looks super hot in the movie… but when you’re juggling a book bag, a purse and a mug of coffee, it’s down right humiliating.

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Third is her entire wardrobe from “How to Marry a Millionaire” (1953), but most especially this stunning evening dress. WOW! This film holds a particular place in my heart. It was the first time I ever saw an actress who was portrayed as glamorous, even though she wore glasses. Having had a bespectacled childhood myself, I always knew exactly what drove the character to take off her glasses in an attempt to look beautiful, despite the fact that she would walk into things.

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And finally, the costumes from “Some Like it Hot” (1959). Let us pause to take a moment here to recount some of the fashion atrocities committed on the red carpet in the past ten years. Like the scrap of fabric Jennifer Lopez wore, back in the day. Or, more recently, some of the stripper-ific get ups Katy Perry has been seen in. Some times these ladies have no shame, right? If only they could take inspiration from the more tasteful and glamorous times gone by!

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Well, considering that some of the costumes Marilyn wore in this movie  really WERE just scraps of fabric, with some strategic sequin placement, I’m suddenly seeing the fashion faux pas of my generation in a whole new light. Although, I can not lie. I have a pretty good approximation of this dress.

And I’ve worn it.

In public.

On multiple occasions.

Of my own free will.

I hope you have enjoyed my top favorite Marilyn looks. What about you? What do you think were her top looks?

The Strawberries & Champagne Series is DONE!!!

So many things have happened in the past week! Classes started for the Spring Semester, just in time for a HUGE snow storm, which effectively cancelled classes for two days straight. So I got an extra two days of vacation. No complaints here, though.

Over my winter break, I tried to really knuckle down and do some dedicated work on my first collection. Of course, I did have to work around family commitments and parties, none of which I factored into my ludicrous sewing schedule. As a result, I’m a week behind schedule on getting the first part of the collection out.

But, hey. Better late than never, right?

And so, with no more ado, I give you “The Strawberries & Champagne” series!!

The series is one of four in the collection, and features two different vintage bra styles

Strawberries & Champagne bullet bra

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Tap pants

A camisole

A slip

And a garter belt corset, all crafted from luscious satins and vintage lace, following vintage style lines. The items are currently all sewn by me, in the little workshop that is sometimes known as my mother’s living room, and are sewn to fit the unique measurements of each of my customers. No need to battle it out with your clothing to make it fit.

The items will be going up for sale later in the day in my shop. I hope you like them! 🙂

Curb the Enthusiasm

When you run a small company, with a work force of one, you wear a lot of hats and have a very small paycheck at the end of the day. You work 8 days a week, and 26 hours a day (all possible with copious amounts of caffeine). Now, when that pay check DOES roll around into your bank account, you should feel happy. You should feel proud. You should feel like you own the world because you EARNED that money.

Today I had those feelings of glee when I made a relatively large (for me) sale in my store. There was mulah in my bank! My first thought- “I’m going out to dinner tomorrow night”, followed by “I’m going to drink Starbucks coffees for a MONTH”, and, finally, the sobering thought of “Well, first I need to pick up the materials, and I don’t have the right thread, so I’ll have to get that, and I’m almost out of X,Y and Z (you fill in the blanks, but basically, supplies that I need)”

When you wear many hats and work many hours in your job, you are lord and master (ROCK ON!) but you are also responsible for… well, being financially responsible. In reality, all of the money from the sale is just going to be cycled right back into the company.

But tonight, I’m going to dream of silk sheets, French champagne and decadent clothing – none of which are in my immediate future. But dreams are free. And don’t impact my bank account!