Vintage Lady of the Week: Judy Garland

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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?

Vintage Lady of the Week: MYRNA LOY

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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: 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?

Impulse Control Issues

Sometimes, I just can’t help myself. I’m sure a lot of people have this problem. Maybe you see the perfect pair of jeans in a store and you buy them for 110$, ignoring the fact that they look EXACTLY like EVERY, SINGLE, OTHER pair of jeans in the WORLD. Or maybe every time cellphones go on sale, you buy five of them. Not because you need them, but, because, c’mon, they were on SALE!

Actually, maybe most of our problems with over buying would be solved if stores stopped offering “buy one, get X” sales… You can ponder this for today and get back to me!

As I was saying, this impulse control issue with spending is perfectly normal. I myself am known to spend almost beyond my means. And it always comes back to bite me in the tush.

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My most recent splurge was the result of my throwing a tantrum at the fabric store over the cutting counter gremlin. I happen to love Halloween, and this fabric is just so PERFECT. SO I bought ten yards of it, with absolutely no idea what I was going to do with it.

I did the same thing with a bolt of creepy haunted house fabric…

And a bolt of Dia de los Muertos fabric…

Always with no idea what I was going to do with it. I just knew that I wanted it.

But this time, I came up with a genius idea. I sketched out this dress idea-

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And that was when it hit me. I don’t really have the time to do a full scale, 500000000000 piece collection… but why not a Limited Edition Halloween collection?

I ran this idea by my Friend-Who-Remains-Anonymous.

“That’s a wonderful idea!” he said. “You should start creating a buzz about it now.”

And, yet again, I was stumped. How does one “create a buzz”, I wondered.

“Let me guess,” he said, blandly. “You forgot that you had a blog, and haven’t updated it in three months.”

Ha! that’s where he was wrong! I showed him my posts.

“Very good,” he said approvingly. “you told them that you hate the only fabric store in your area because the people are mean, you told them you are a starving artist, and you told them you are insane and think the DEVIL possessed your sewing machine.” Maybe “approving” was the wrong word…

“Now,” he informed me, “you are going to tell your readers all about you idea for this mini collection, and show them your adventure in the creative process.”

I think he was expecting a little too much from me. I think he was probably over estimating my abilities, too.

He sighed. “Mack, just do it. I’ll buy you a cup of coffee for each post you put up about this project.”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, sealed the deal. This officially goes to my first cup of free coffee!! I win!!!!!

I’m NOT Scared (I will Now Hide Under the Blankets WEre the Monsters Can’t See Me)

So really this is just some tech week shots for the show on Tuesday. The school I work for (Delaware County Community College) is putting on GODSPELL. The cast are all students in the acting program, and we have the smallest crew the world has ever seen working on a musical…

A skeleton crew, as it were.

Anyway, enough blah blah blah. Here are some pics I shot between changes with my lil iPod. Sorry for the crap quality.

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This is our wonderful goth Ida. You wouldn’t know it but she’s got blonde hair that is longer than Rapunzel’s. no, I didn’t make her cut it. We got a wig.

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This is the opening costume for our prep. Don’t worry, her costume change is much more fabulous!!

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This is Jesus. The character, I mean

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The first costume for our tomboy Jasmine.
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Our sports fanatic

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The flower child

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The artsy girl

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And the second costume for our goth. I know goths everywhere are eye twitching, since she has become a raver.

Oh! To clarify, I don’t remember the actual character names… But it was decided that the characters should all be stereotypes you find on college campuses!

Full make up and final costumes on Wednesday!!!