Friday, July 7, 2017

Fashion Friday: A Top Ten List

Vivien Leigh loved fashion. She enjoyed clothing and all the accessories associated with dressing like a true star. She had a great sense of style and had a lot of fabulous fashion moments throughout her lifetime. To celebrate her style during the 50th anniversary of her passing, I've put together a top ten list of my favorite fashions that Vivien wore in real life.

1. Vivien's Wedding Dress

Vivien Leigh married her first husband, Leigh Holman, in a Roman Catholic ceremony on December 20th, 1932 at St. James Church, in London. Vivien's father, Ernest Hartley, walked her down the aisle. For this special occasion, Vivien wore a gorgeous, long-sleeved gown made from white satin. She carried a bouquet of roses mixed with baby's breath and fern leaves. Her hair was styled in the latest fashion, covered by a crocheted Juliet cap with a floor-length veil attached. Vivien's wedding band was an eternal ring of diamonds.


2. Tennis Match

In late fall of 1939, Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier stepped up their fashion game at a tennis match in Hollywood. Vivien wore a hat with a swooping scarf, while her hair was caught up in a fetching net a la Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind. Olivier looked quite debonair in a stylish suit.



3. Hollywood Premiere of Gone With the Wind

On December 28th, 1939, Gone With the Wind finally had its premiere in Hollywood. The premiere was held at Fox's Carthay Circle Theater. For this special night, Vivien chose to wear a fuchsia colored evening gown. The gown's bodice and matching purse were both studded with matching fuchsia sequins. More sequins decorated the hood and its veil. Vivien Leigh's dress was designed for her by Walter Plunkett, who had also created her Atlanta premiere outfit. It's a shame there are no (known) color photos of Vivien in this dress. The fuchsia color would be amazing against her dark hair.


4. The Oscars, 1940

Vivien wore a stunning, floor-length gown by Irene as she attended her first Oscar ceremony, in February, 1940. Irene Lentz was a fashion designer, whose salon was located inside the Bullocks-Wilshire department store. In addition to designing costumes for the movies, Irene also designed for private customers, which included many of Hollywood's top stars such as Carole Lombard, Marlene Dietrich, Claudette Colbert and Loretta Young. In the fall of 1939, Irene held a fashion show for one of her collections. The gown Vivien chose for the Oscars was listed as item number fourteen with the simple description of red poppy evening gown. The green printed chiffon dress featured the aforementioned red poppies with hints of yellow, gray and blue mixed into the gown's color palette. Vivien won the Best Actress Oscar for her role of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind. Vivien's chiffon gown featured spaghetti straps, side cut-outs and a low-cut bodice. Her topaz pendant, set in yellow gold, hung from a slender chain around her neck, drawing attention to the deep V of the dress. Vivien chose costume jewelry to complete her look, a bracelet and large ring, to match the tone set by the pendant.


5. Vivien's Head Scarf, 1946

In 1946, Vivien and Laurence Olivier travelled to the United States. Olivier was coming with the Old Vic Company to perform in New York City. For the trans-Atlantic journey, Vivien swept her hair up into this nifty head scarf, which was then dubbed the Bedouin Bonnet by the press.

Vivien and Larry image from Frivolous Whim on Tumblr


6. White Sunglasses

Vivien owned at least two pairs of white sunglasses. In this first picture, Vivien and Laurence Olivier are seen in Tasmania, in 1948. How cute does Vivien look all wrapped up? The second picture, containing a slightly different style of sunglasses, is of Vivien in Portofino.





7. Australia

The Oliviers, along with the Old Vic Company, traveled to Australia to perform in several plays, in 1948. Vivien and Larry were treated like rock stars. Crowds lined up to see this British couple in person. After arriving in Perth, they attended a reception held for them by the British Council. Vivien wore this charming dress to the party. I'm not 100% positive, but I believe the dress was designed by Hardy Amies. The dress was made from white muslin and featured a blue floral motif. The lapels of the dress were pinned together by a brooch, featuring rubies and diamonds in a platinum setting. Vivien's large hat, belt, purse, sandals and gloves with a scalloped trim, were all in corresponding white. Check out that bow!


8. Suzanne's Wedding, 1957

Vivien's only child, Suzanne Holman, was married in December, 1957. For her daughter's wedding, Vivien chose to wear a silk coat.  But not any silk coat. This coat featured a leopard pattern, which had been hand painted onto the material. Vivien topped it off with a matching hat and fur scarf. Her outfit, according to one newspaper, put all the mink coats and smart costumes in the shade.


9.  Gone With the Wind's 21st Anniversary

Gone With the Wind celebrated its 21st anniversary in March, 1961. The celebrations were held in Atlanta, Georgia, in conjunction with the Civil War Centennial. Newspapers around the world ran headlines such as Scarlett turns 21. The three day event took place from Wednesday, March 8th to Friday, March 10th. On Thursday, March 9th, a costume ball was held at the Biltmore Hotel. Vivien wore an original ball gown, specially created for her, for the 21st anniversary gala.

The gown was based on the barbecue dress Vivien wore as Scarlett O'Hara in 1939. Vivien's modern day, white gown had a billowing skirt, which trailed behind Vivien when she walked. The dress featured a green velvet waistband, with flowing ribbons down the backside of the skirt. The very fitted bodice showed off the gown’s gorgeous embroidery. Green-blue sprays of flowers were embroidered onto the gown and peppered with pearls and rhinestones. Vivien’s accessories for the evening included a three strand pearl necklace with a diamond drop pin around her neck, while diamond hair barrettes adorned her coiffure. She topped the gown off with long gloves and a fox fur wrap, both white to match her dress.


10. Shakespeare's birthday

To mark William Shakespeare's 400th birthday in 1964, Vivien Leigh attended an outdoor celebration for the Bard. The party took place on an overcast day at the partially finished Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford. For this special occasion, Vivien chose to wear a hot pink, two piece outfit. The boxy shaped jacket featured five buttons down the front, pocket flaps and side buttons. Vivien accented her outfit with a fur stole around her neck, gloves and a black velvet hair band a la Alice In Wonderland.




Thanks for joining me for today's Fashion Friday post!



Friday, June 2, 2017

Fashion Friday: Selections from 1949

In 1949, Vivien Leigh decided to tackle the role of Blanche Du Bois in Tennessee Williams' play, A Streetcar Named Desire. Her director and producer was also her husband, Laurence Olivier. The couple put up £10,000 to produce the play.

During rehearsals, Vivien began the habit of wearing the same outfit daily. Her chosen attire was by designer Hardy Amies, whom she'd known since the 1930s.


This rehearsal outfit was made from a black, light-weight wool, which Vivien said she practically lives in. The slightly flared, pleated skirt hit Vivien below the knee. Sometimes, she changed things up by switching out the blouses-- from short sleeves to long sleeves and vice versa. One standout feature of the blouses were their Quaker girl collars.

Amies wasn't a fan of the padded shoulder look and worked hard to bring a more natural looking shoulder to women's clothing. What I didn't realize was that the moment skirts were lowered, we could soften shoulders. I say that the battle of the shoulders was won at the hemline. -Hardy Amies


Another way Vivien changed up her daily look was to add a scarf to her blouse. She had several different colored ones that she'd slide beneath the collar of her dress and tie in the front.


Vivien did several publicity portraits for the promotion of A Streetcar Named Desire. Here she poses for the camera in the same outfit twice: one picture shows her with her dark hair dyed blonde, for the role of Blanche; and in the other picture, she's wearing one of her dark wigs.


This glamorous gown was made from brown tulle and silk. The dress featured a beaded bodice, embroidered with copper coloured sequins. The gorgeous stole, wrapped around Vivien, was also made from brown tulle and studded with matching sequins.


Once again, Vivien posed in the same evening gown, with and without her wig. Honestly, I really prefer her natural hair to any of her wigs.

The designer is Molyneux, who created this gown especially for Vivien. The dress is made from a light-green satin. It features a closely fitted bodice and a fully gathered skirt. The gown's wide straps wrap around Vivien's shoulders, creating a shawl-like effect. Lily of the valley is attached to the bodice.


Here's a sketch of her wearing this Molyneux gown. Unfortunately, I haven't yet been able to find a full-length picture of Vivien in this gown.


The last bit of fashion for today's post is this adorable cap! The wool hat was created by Valentina, a
fashion and costume designer working in New York City.



Vivien loved this little cap so much that she bought it in several different colors. It features two long straps for tying either in the back, under the hair or in the front, under the chin. She wore these hats quite a bit as she laughingly commented to a reporter:  My friends are sick of the sight of me in it!





Thanks for joining me for today's Fashion Friday post!








Friday, April 28, 2017

Fashion Friday: Gone With The Wind's Honeymoon Necklace & Lovebird Dress

In Gone With the Wind, Vivien Leigh's costume jewelry was created by Eugene Joseff. Joseff worked with his longtime friend, Walter Plunkett (Gone With the Wind's costume designer) to create the perfect pieces for Scarlett to wear. Joseff began his Hollywood career in the 1920s, creating some of the most gorgeous pieces of jewelry ever seen on the silver screen. After his death in 1948, his wife, Joan Castle, took over the business, creating jewelry for the movies until 2006. Besides Gone With the Wind, their work can be seen in hundreds of movies such as The Shanghai Gesture, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Cleopatra, The Virgin Queen, Cover Girl, High Society, That Hamilton Woman, Anna Karenina and the list goes on!

For today's Fashion Friday post, I thought we'd look at one of the costumes and necklaces from Gone With the Wind. Rhett and Scarlett have just been married and are currently enjoying their honeymoon in New Orleans. Scarlett wears a sumptuous, midnight blue gown, adorned with lovebirds.


In the movie, we only see Scarlett sitting down, while wearing this dress. The Butlers are eating at a restaurant with CanCan dancers as the entertainment. I really wish I could find a full-length photograph of Vivien Leigh in this dress.

Scarlett eyes the desserts! 
Walter Plunkett's sketch of the lovebird dress
Around Vivien's neck is this gorgeous diamond and amethyst necklace. The diamonds are really iridescent stones, which set off the simulated amethysts. Joseff certainly knew how to deliver the Wow factor!

Image is from the SFO Museum's website
Scarlett's necklace is set to go on the auction block in November. Since it's from one of the most iconic and beloved movies of all time, I think the selling price will be quite high. In addition to the necklace, Vivien wears a matching bracelet, which is stunning with its intricate detail.


Besides Gone With the Wind, the necklace appeared in three other films.

It's first appearance after Gone With the Wind is in the 1948 movie, Let's Live A Little, starring Hedy Lamarr. 


The next time we see the necklace, it's adorning Ginger Rogers in The Barkleys of Broadway, in 1949. It appears that the strands were tightened to give it more of a choker look.

Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire

The last leading lady to wear the necklace is Linda Darnell in Blackbeard the Pirate, from 1952. The necklace now appears to have been returned to its former Gone With the Wind glory. 

Torin Thatcher and Linda Darnell

Thanks for joining me for today's Fashion Friday post!




Friday, March 31, 2017

Fashion Friday: Harper's Bazaar, 1940

In 1940, Vivien Leigh appeared in the pages of Harper's Bazaar as a fashion model. For Vivien, modeling designer clothing was nothing new. She'd been appearing in fashion magazines since the 1930s.

The photographer for this particular shoot was George Hoyningen-Huene, who was well-renowned in the field of fashion photography. The clothing came from Henri Bendel, a NYC based department store (which is still in business today).

In these photographs, Vivien wears two different velvet skirts, each topped with a lamé blouse. The first skirt is made from black, chiffon velvet. Chiffon velvet is simply a lighter weight than normally expected from velvet. To top off the skirt, Vivien wears a beautiful melon-pink blouse made from Bianchini silk. The lamé blouse ties in the middle, providing that cinched-waist look. The retail price of this outfit was $135.


In this next image, Vivien is pictured wearing a full skirt, made from black, rayon velvet. Vivien wears a silver lamé top, with a striking, silver lace trim around the collar, lapels and bottom of the blouse. I can only imagine how stunning both blouses would be in color! The retail price of this outfit was $165.


Lace detail below:


The gorgeous jewelry pictured in these photographs was created by Verdura. I'm simply in love with this amazing brooch!


Thanks for joining me for today's Fashion Friday post!


Source:
Harper's Bazaar, September 1st, 1940

Saturday, February 25, 2017

11 Things About Vivien Leigh & the Oscars

Vivien Leigh took home two Best Actress Oscars; one in 1940 and one in 1952. Here's a list of 11 things about Vivien Leigh and the Oscars.

1. Vivien Leigh, a British actress, won both Oscars for her portrayal of Southern women. She earned her first Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind. She earned her second Oscar as Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire.

Vivien as Scarlett in Gone With the Wind
2. Vivien won both of her Oscars during leap years, 1940 and 1952.

3. She was the first British actress to win an Academy Award for Best Actress.

Vivien and Oscar, 1940
4. Vivien knew in advance that she had won for her portrayal of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind. The names of the winners were released the day before the ceremony to the newspapers. The LA Times ran the winners' names the day of the ceremony, instead of the day after.

5. According to Laurence Olivier's son, Tarquin, Olivier experienced a little bit of jealousy over her win and his loss (for Best Actor for Wuthering Heights):  On their way home, he grabbed her Oscar and 'It was all I could do to restrain myself from hitting her with it. I was insane with jealousy.' (1)

Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier
 6. Vivien wasn't able to attend the 1952 Academy Awards. She was appearing onstage in New York, as Cleopatra, in dual plays. She heard her name announced as the winner, via the radio, in her dressing room at the Ziegfield Theater.

Vivien dressed as Cleopatra, March 1952
7. Greer Garson accepted the Best Actress Award, for A Streetcar Named Desire, on Vivien's behalf, at the 1952 award ceremony. Greer: It's an honor and a thrill to accept this for you, Vivien. I hope you're listening in New York We're all very excited about it. God bless you and congratulations. I know she'd want to thank you if she were here herself. (2)


Bette Davis, George Sanders, Karl Malden (Best Supporting Actor), Greer Garson and Humphrey Bogart (Best Actor)
Vivien's co-star in A Streetcar Named Desire, Kim Hunter, also didn't attend the ceremony. Bette Davis accepted on her behalf.

8. Harry Cohn presented Vivien's Oscar to her later that year in London.

Vivien Leigh and Harry Cohn
9. In March 1953, Vivien arrived in Hollywood, from Sri Lanka, to continue filming Elephant Walk. While there, she planned on attending the 1953 Oscars and was scheduled to present the Best Actor Oscar. Her chosen dress for the evening was a stunning, ivory satin gown. Unfortunately, she wasn't able to attend due to a mental illness breakdown and had to return to London for treatment.

10. While Vivien was recovering from her breakdown and Olivier was in Italy, making a movie, thieves broke into their London home, Durham Cottage. They stole her Oscar for A Streetcar Named Desire, along with silverware and clothing.

Vivien as Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire
11. In 1993, Vivien's daughter, Suzanne Farrington, sold some of her mother's things at a Sotheby's auction. One of the items placed on the block, was the Oscar Vivien had won for Gone With the Wind. The high bidder paid $510,000 for the statuette, which was the highest amount paid for an Oscar, at that time.


1. My Father Laurence Olivier by Tarquin Olivier, page 86
2. 1952 Oscars' video of Greer Garson accepting award

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Fashion Friday: The Costumes of Anna Karenina

For this week’s Fashion Friday post, I'll be taking a look at several of the costumes that Vivien Leigh wore in Anna Karenina. Based on Leo Tolstoy's classic novel, Vivien filmed Anna Karenina at Shepperton Studios in 1947; the film premiered in London, in January 1948.

Anna Karenina was directed by Julien Duvivier, whom Vivien had nothing but kind words to say about his directorial style: Instead of shouting his instructions, which is sometimes embarrassing if one has made a mistake, he will always walk up and whisper them- not only to the leading actor or actress, but to individual members of the crowd.

Vivien Leigh as Anna Karenina
While filming Anna Karenina, it was Vivien's tendency to arrive at Shepperton Studios at around 7am, each morning. During downtime and on her lunch break, Vivien would do the Times crossword puzzle. She also enjoyed playing gin rummy on the set, usually beating her opponents!

The costumes for the movie were designed by Cecil Beaton and created by Karenska. Vivien wore approximately fifteen different costumes as Anna. One newspaper article noted that some costumes had to be duplicated, due to the fake rain and snow used in the movie. In a letter Cecil Beaton wrote to Greta Garbo, he said: By the end of one day's shooting Anna's sable cape looks like an old drowned rat, and the ostrich feathers in her hat look like the flu brush. Time and again Anna has to get out of the train, while the wind machines blow a mixture of perspex and salt and cement onto her.  Personally, I think it a lot of fun- and that is the part of the films I like the best- the imitation icicles and snow- the imitation train- but by now Vivien doesn't share my views and she is thoroughly disgusted by the smell of the steam. (as shared by Hugo Vickers in Vivien Leigh).

Karenska, Vivien Leigh and Cecil Beaton in Paris, 1947
While Cecil Beaton was designing the clothing for Anna Karenina, he was also designing the costumes for An Ideal Husband (starring Paulette Goddard). The two movies were both produced by Alexander Korda, at the same time and at the same studio. Here's Beaton's take on creating the costumes for these two movies:

I think color makes a great deal of difference to the mood of an actress; that the color she wears colors her performance. If, therefore, an actress dislikes a particular color, I believe she should have the right of refusal and in a picture of where I am Designing Director, she has that right. The grays, the dark greens, the burgundy are the sombre colors. White and the pale blues, such as you see in religious paintings, the colors of virginity, of purity and of peace. Pink, more than any other, is the color of frivolity.

The different moods you can create in costuming-- what I enjoyed so much about costuming Anna Karenina and An Ideal Husband, one after the other, was that they were so different; give such a range of mood, manner and character. One, An Ideal Husband, a light, delightful trifle; the other, Anna Karenina, with the taste of doom, of fate, hanging over the different characters. Wonderful to go from the silly to the sombre, from Vivien Leigh's grand passion to Paulette [Goddard], naughty Paulette, under the stigma of being rather fast...


[The clothes in Anna Karenina should have] quite an effect. The very long waistline, the tight, thin pointed waistline. The very 18th century shoulders. No shoulder seams. All cut on the cross as they were in the 18th century- and in these costumes Vivien looks charming, very charming, so neat and strong. 

Designing is not, you see, a mere matter of a bow here, a bow there. Much more serious than that, much more serious. A very good designer should know, not only the measurements and the physical type of the woman for whom he is designing, but her character as well. 

The first costume from Anna Karenina is this lovely outfit, which Vivien is wearing in this publicity photo. The silk dress and its cape are both black and green. A matching green and black hat sits on the back of her head and ties beneath her chin.


Her green and black shawl-like wrap is trimmed with a wide band of velvet, which is attached to a hand-made fringe. The wrap is decorated with stars and a geometric pattern. 


The bottom of the skirt features wide bands of black velvet, which contrasts against the silk pattern of the dress. The dress Vivien's wearing, beneath her shawl, is pictured below. In this picture, we get a better view of the gown's design, along with its wide, lace cuffs. The frilly lace collar is set off by a brooch pinned bow.


This next costume is a gorgeous, form-fitting day dress which holds a classic, timeless appeal. The structured, burgundy gown is made from wool and velvet. 


The gown features a sable trimmed capelet, which covers the shoulders. In his biography, Vivien Leigh, Hugo Vickers relays the following snippet from a letter Vivien sent to Bernard Berenson in June, 1947: There has been a heat wave during which I have had to pretend I was living in Moscow in deepest winter! --covered in velvets and sables and corseted down to 19 inches. I thought this last would gain me some sympathy when I told Larry. But not a bit of it. He too is corseted and pretending it's winter in Elsinore! It really does seem a strange way of earning a living sometimes. 


The overskirt, with its asymmetrical pleated hem, is folded into bands and gathered toward the back, creating a fabulous silhouette for Vivien. The excess material creates a small, bustle like effect in the back of the dress. The underskirt falls to the floor and features a small train.


Vivien poses in this next publicity photo while wearing a stunning lilac gown, which would be amazing to see in color. The satin bodice features a large peek-a-boo cutout, while the bottom part of the basque angles away from the front of the dress.


The silk dress features multiple rows of narrow, plaited ruffles from the neck to the bottom, where the gown ends in pleated ruffles. Vivien wears fingerless gloves and carries a matching umbrella trimmed in fringe.


Vivien's curls are topped with a lovely hat ornamented with lilacs, to match the color of the dress. Black lace falls from the cap to tie beneath the chin. 

Lilacs are also used as decoration on the gown. A small bouquet of lilacs are pinned to the front of the bodice, while a long garland of lilacs drapes itself across the lower part of the body. The garland loops from one side of the gown to the other, dipping down to the knees before rising back to the other side. 

Cecil Beaton created a fairy tale look for Vivien in this lilac costume.
This next outfit is my favorite costume from Anna Karenina. Vivien is absolutely stunning in this outfit. The dress features a short waisted jacket, made from white silk and black velvet. The black velvet lapels perfectly sets off the lacy, white collar. The jacket's silk sleeves end in a swath of black velvet, with long, lacy cuffs spilling out from the sleeves.


The back of the jacket ends with a wide, black velvet train, that travels down to the floor. The white skirt features multiple layers of organdy draped across the body. Each layer ends in a band of pleated lace ruffles, which match the costume's cuffs and collar. 



Vivien's hat is constructed from white lace and black velvet. The hat is topped with black and white ostrich feathers, with a black velvet band of ribbon dangling down the back.

In the picture below, one gets a better view of the jacket's lacy collar, which is mostly hidden by the bouquet pinned to it in the above pictures. I think the dress looks better without the bouquet.


This sumptuous, black ball gown is made from velvet, satin and taffeta. Multiple shades of black, along with different materials, make for a glamorous night out in this gown.


The gown features a low cut bodice, with off the shoulder decolletage. Extreme decolletage as I designed...can be, according to the woman who wears it, and how she wears it, very naughty; or it can be as decorous as the sable capes and sombre shades I gave Vivien Leigh... -Cecil Beaton

The long-waisted bodice is called a cuirass basque. These were usually boned to mold a woman's body into a 'pleasing' feminine form. I only hope that if Vivien dropped anything on the floor, she had someone nearby to pick it up for her!


In the front, the ball gown ends in long rows of narrow, plaited ruffles.The striped material is draped across the front, then gathered upward toward the back, ending in a gloriously long train. Back in the 1870s, this was known as a peacock train.


Cecil Beaton created another wonderful evening gown for Vivien to wear as Anna, this time in white silk and gold lamé. Color wise, it's a complete one-eighty from the black ball gown.


This evening gown begins with a low-cut bodice, which is trimmed in a white silk fringe at the top and bottom of the basque. The overskirt is draped across the body in an apron effect and trimmed with a white silk fringe. The underskirt also features the same fringe, ending in a small train in the back. Diamantes add an extra touch of elegance to this gown.


This next outfit was sold at auction a few years ago by Bonhams. The high bidder paid $2,585 USD for this lovely costume. The website's description is simply Green velvet gown with chiffon bodice and bolero jacket.


From these color photographs of the gown, it's easy to see that the collar and cuffs were also made from white chiffon, and shaped into pleated ruffles. I'll have to rewatch Anna Karenina to figure out when Vivien wears this costume in the movie.


Years later, in looking back over her career, Vivien Leigh would cite Anna Karenina as a regret: My mistakes were doing the films of Anna Karenina and The Deep Blue Sea and appearing in the farce Look After Lulu, which was totally embarrassing. 

Vivien may have regretted doing Anna Karenina, but I don't regret how marvelous she looks in these costumes. Cecil Beaton did an outstanding job as designer.

Thanks for joining me for today's Fashion Friday post!