Showing posts with label 1930s. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1930s. Show all posts

Friday, November 27, 2015

Fashion Friday #5: A Yank At Oxford

In 1938, Vivien Leigh co-starred in A Yank At Oxford with Robert Taylor and Maureen O'Sullivan. Vivien, as the second female lead, played the very flirtatious wife of the local (and older than her) book-seller at Oxford. As Elsa Craddock, Vivien stirs things up for the local collegians, which includes Robert Taylor's character, Lee Sheridan. Lee is a brash, cocky, young American who triumphs sportswise over the other young men at Oxford. Maureen O'Sullivan plays Molly Beaumont, Robert Taylor's love interest and sister of his athletic rival.

The clothes for A Yank At Oxford were designed by Swiss designer, Rene Hubert. Ultimately, Rene would work as costume designer on four of Vivien's movies, Fire Over England, Dark Journey, Yank and That Hamilton Woman. He designed costumes for well over a hundred movies during his long career and received two Oscar nominations for his work. His first nomination was in 1954 for Desiree (color) and his second came ten years later in 1964 for The Visit (black & white). In addition to movies, Mr. Hubert also designed stage sets and costumes for plays and revues.

The first outfit we'll look at today is this lovely three-piece, plaid ensemble. The jacket is black tweed with the lapels and pockets trimmed in a black and yellow plaid design. The skirt is also made from tweed with the same plaid pattern as the jacket's trimmings in black and yellow. Even the gloves didn't escape Rene's attention with their plaid undersides.

One of the perks of playing 'the other woman,' in a movie from the 1930s, is that the actress usually gets to wear flashier clothes than the film's good girl. We can see that's the case with Vivien's character, Elsa, in her fur-trimmed ensemble, pictured below.

Vivien wears a smart, green, wool outfit that coordinates perfectly with her gloves and chin-strapped hat . The dress features ocelot fur-covered lapels and cuffs at the sleeves' end. The fur travels from the lapels up to the shoulders, then down the dress' backside to the waist as pictured below. One magazine referred to this as a cape effect. (Side note: Seriously, ocelots are so cute that I can't even believe anyone would use them for their fur. Even though they're part of the leopard family, they're only slightly bigger than domesticated house cats.)

Next up is this lovely cream coat, made from twilled fabric. The coat is stitched in dark brown silk and fastened with three wood grained buttons in the same shade. The coat is worn over an underdress of brown crepe de chine, tied at the neck with a bow. Bags, gloves and shoes are in the same shade of brown, the suede shoes trimmed with corded silk. The hat is cream felt to match the coat with dark brown stitching for trimming (San Bernardino County Paper). Crepe de Chine is a light material, usually made from silk.

Maureen O'Sullivan played the main female lead in A Yank At Oxford. Rene Hubert created fourteen costumes for her to wear in the movie. From the MGM publicity department: Here is Maureen in a neat, practical ensemble for the young undergraduette about Oxford. Skirt and coatee are in fine brown wool, with an attractive masculine feature in the brown check tweed waistcoat; imitation pockets are piped in brown wool and buttons are covered in brown wool. Shirt, collar, tie and cuffs are in an off-white pique, with shoes in brown suede.

Below, Maureen wears a two-piece outfit designed for her character, Molly, when she's off campus. The fitted, slender skirt features three inch slits on each side and is made from medium blue, wool cloque. Cloque is a woven material with a textured or quilted look, which came into popularity in the late 1930s.

The form-fitting jacket zips up in the front and is also made from wool cloque, with front and back panels of dark blue velvet. The jacket's pockets are trimmed in a medium blue, while the collar, tie and zipper covering are of pale blue pique.

I don't have any close-up pictures of Vivien and Maureen's shoes as they all come out too blurry when I enlarge them. I do have these two vintage ads for shoes from 1938, which I absolutely love since they're in color.

The shoes in the bottom right, with the eight open-holes, are similar to a pair that Vivien wears in the movie, minus the buckle straps. Other shoes from the movie feature ties and bows. If any of today's shoemakers were to produce a vintage line of shoes like these from 1938, I'd be first in line for them.

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

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Vintage Bride: Jill Esmond

On July 25th, 1930, Jill Esmond officially became the first Mrs. Laurence Olivier. Jill, a British actress, was 22 years old and her bridgegroom, Larry, was 23. Jill Esmond came from acting royalty. Her mother was the famous stage actress and suffragette, Eva Moore. Her father was the actor, playwright and manager, Henry V. Esmond. Together, Eva and Henry were the royal couple of the British stage.

The bride's parents, Eva Moore and Henry Esmond

Jill and Larry first met in 1928 when they co-starred in the play, Bird in Hand: Olivier played a squire's son and Jill played an innkeeper's daughter, his romantic counterpart. In 1929, the couple found themselves separated by an ocean. Jill had traveled to New York City with the play, Bird in Hand, while Olivier remained in London.

After being separated for a few months, Olivier was given the opportunity of starring in a play called Murder On The Second Floor, to be produced in New York City. Olivier recalled,  I managed to find a chance to play in New York and I jumped at it. The show- Murder On The Second Floor- only lasted five weeks. But I got to see Jill.  Once reunited in NYC, the couple decided to select Jill's engagement ring together and purchased the ring from Tiffany's.

In 1932, Silver Screen magazine ran a super sweet article on Jill and Larry (whom they referred to as Lorry). They included the following details on the Oliviers' wedding, which is basically one of the fluffiest things I've ever read. Here's the excerpt:

On or about July 11, 1930, A.D., Jill and Lorry were sitting on a river bank at the country estate of some friends. There were birds in the trees. The grass was green. The river whispered lazily by them. The sun was at its zenith and all was tranquil. Lorry suddenly turned to Jill.

"All this gadding about," said he, "is silly. We've got to be married."
"That's a noble idea," replied Jill. "When?"

Lorry counted the days on his fingers. There was work in the offing, and it looked as if their honeymoon would be molested by the fall openings.

"Say two weeks," said Lorry.
"Two weeks," said Jill.

They were married on July 25 and there were TWO bishops on hand- the wedding was very fashionable- and the guests were notable. Followed the honeymoon.

"No more being separated," said Lorry.
"Right'o," said Jill

And two very brave young people, both in a profession which is legendary for keeping people apart, made a pledge. 

Jill and Larry were married at All Saints, located on Margaret Street in London. The ceremony was officiated by Bishop Perrin. Jill's brother, Jack Esmond, drove her to the church, but it was her mother, Eva Moore, who walked her down the aisle. Jill's father had sadly passed away in 1922.

Jill's floor-length wedding gown was made from parchment satin and featured an embroidered sweetheart neckline with side ruching and long, fitted sleeves. Her tulle veil flowed from her art deco headdress, made in part from cream-colored pearls. For Jill's formal wedding portrait (above), she's photographed with a small bouquet of lilies secured with ribbon. For the actual wedding, she carried a larger bouquet of what appears to be daisies accented with fern leaves and wrapped in tulle.

Laurence Olivier rented his morning suit for the wedding, which featured striped pants, a dark colored jacket with a lighter shade for the vest. ...He looked a complete Charley in hired morning clothes: sleeves too short and trousers failing to hide his actor's love of costume: white spats [black and white shoes]. A button hole marched with a pointed pocket handkerchief- gaudy but not neat. He was the proudest of grooms, his brow nobly plucked by Jill, and his Ronald Colman moustache his hour consuming pride, and the bride he had first proposed to almost two years before was his for ever. -Tarquin Olivier on his parents' wedding, from My Father Laurence Olivier

Eileen Clark had the distinction of being maid of honor. She and the little girl, who attended to Jill's train, both wore short-sleeved dresses, leaf green in color, with matching necklaces. The best man was Denys Blakelock.

Newspaper clipping

The happy couple greeting guests at their reception

After the ceremony, the reception was held in the garden at Eva Moore's home at Whitehead's Grove. The couple were to honeymoon at the house of a friend of Eva's at Lulworth Cove in Dorset, right on the sea.

Larry and Jill had only one son together, Tarquin, born in August, 1936. The Oliviers' marriage came to an end, in 1937, when Larry left Jill and moved into Durham Cottage, in London, with Vivien Leigh. The couple later divorced, in 1940. This was Jill's only marriage, but the first of three for Olivier.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Vintage Bride: Vivien Leigh, Part One

Vivian Mary Hartley first met Herbert Leigh Holman, a barrister, in the winter of 1932. It was February and she had just announced to her parents her intention of becoming an actress. Leigh Holman was 31 and Vivien was 18.

Vivien's first glimpse of her future husband happened when she and friends went to Holcombe (a town in England) to observe the Dartmouth Draghounds. Holman rode through town, cutting a romantic figure on horseback and saluting one of Vivien's friends as he passed them. He had "pale, serious eyes and blond wavy hair" and bore a strong resemblance to the film star and stage actor, Leslie Howard.

The pair were formally introduced at the South Devon Hunt Ball held on Torquay Pier. For this event, Vivien chose to wear a sea-green ball gown that matched her eyes. Five months later, Holman proposed to Vivien and she accepted. Her engagement ring was a small diamond ring.

The couple exchanged vows in a Roman Catholic ceremony held on Tuesday, December 20th, 1932 at St. James Church, Spanish Place, in London. Ernest Hartley, Vivien's father, walked her down the aisle.

Vivien wore a long-sleeved, white satin gown and 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."

Two of Vivien's wedding attendants with matching ringlets and ruffles
The bridesmaids' dresses, like the bride's dress, were made from satin, but were peach in color with puffy sleeves. The bridesmaids carried bouquets of chrysanthemums.

After the reception, held at a London hotel, Vivien changed from her wedding dress into "a blue suit trimmed with silver fox fur." The couple then embarked on a three week honeymoon, traveling through Austria and Germany, before returning to London and settling into life as Mr. and Mrs. Holman.

The Happy Couple
Their union produced one daughter, Suzanne, born in 1933. Vivien left Holman in 1937, moving into a new home with the also married Laurence Olivier. The couple would later divorce in 1940, leaving Vivien free to marry Olivier. Leigh Holman never remarried.

Items in quotation marks are from Anne Edwards' book, Vivien Leigh: A Biography