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?

 

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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?

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?

The Fine Art of Frolicking

There is something magical about a full skirt with a flouncy petticoat underneath it. It evokes the fairy tale princess, dreams of Cinderella and Prince Charming, and the delicate femininity of the 1950’s fashions.

I have been working on a 1950’s style dress for this Sunday, and, as luck would have it, unearthed a black net petticoat from the maelstrom that is my costume shop. I pressed it, tried it on, and swirled through the shop in a tee-shirt, beat up jeans, my petticoat and sandals, like a little girl at the holidays.

Having finally finished my dress (by finished I mean that it’s not held together with pins, and has a functioning zipper, but still requires hemming and a few fitting alterations), I was determined to try it on with the petticoat underneath.

The result was fantastic. it added just the right amount of body to the skirt, and gave a wonderful twirly effect when I turned around to show my patient mother. I jumped up and down, and swirled the skirt.

“That’s not how you frolic!” my mother admonished.  “Stop looking down at the skirt! Stand up straight! Now you can frolic!”

I followed her directions, and frolic, I did, through the living room, and the dining room. And then, having entirely too much fun, I careened into a table in the kitchen and knocked over a bowl full of fruit.

The moral of this story is that as much fun as it is to prance and dance around in a full petticoat and skirt, it is important to keep one’s surroundings in mind. you must be graceful and princess-like… and princesses DO NOT slam into tables! 🙂 Also, remember that a full skirt can knock things off coffee tables… like your coffee mugs! BEWARE,  and, most importantly, have fun!! 🙂

Over the Top (But it’s OK) Pt. 1

You are going on a date. it’s a date with a new gent. Maybe you have butterflies, maybe you are nervous. Maybe it doesn’t even phase you. But there is one thing that I bet every woman does: they try to figure out the “perfect out fit”.

I never really had that problem. I always ended up dating people that I had know for a little while. I got to skip all of the nervousness of a “first date”, and I always considered that a blessing.

Until today.

I met a very nice man online (please hold the snickers, snarky comments, and eye rolling), and after two months of emailing and texting back and forth, we decided to go on a date (the exact day is still up in the air because of our schedules)

But now, I find myself in the exact place that I used to make fun of my friends for. Now, I’m nervous. Now, I’m trying to figure out the perfect outfit, the perfect jewelry, the perfect hair style, the perfect shoes, and the perfect make up.

I feel so freaking girly!!!

And that’s not even the worst part! The worst part is that I don’t have anything to wear!!! Sure, I have some gorgeous vintage gowns (waaaaaaaay to fancy for a first date). I have some frocks that I wear at work (waaaaaayyy to casual), and of course tons of sundresses, and frilly frocks. But nothing was what I wanted. Some dresses that I thought would work, I couldn’t even get zipped up! (It doesn’t help that my wardrobe and my body are going through this really awkward transitional phase…).

I was almost ready to just throw in the towel and say “FUX it. I’m not freaking going!!!” And then I had an epiphany! I’m a costume designer! I know how to sew! And I’ve got TONS of fabric laying around the house!

SO, being the genius that I am, I decided to make the dress.

The black yoke will be a bronze satin

So I settled on this dress, which I have a hoarded pattern for! Isn’t it GORGEOUS!!!? Of course, the pattern is only a size 10, and my big tush barely squeezes into a size 18… so there will be a sample made first. And I want to wear a girdle with it so I have a pretty little waist, which means some more pattern alterations. …

But it will look gorgeous when it’s done, and, more important, I will look FABULOUS in it!! 🙂

So the next question becomes, what accessories should I wear?