Showing posts with label A Streetcar Named Desire. Show all posts
Showing posts with label A Streetcar Named Desire. Show all posts

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!








Saturday, February 25, 2017

11 Things About Vivien Leigh & the Oscars

Vivien Leigh only made nineteen movies during her thirty-three year career, as she preferred standing on the stage to standing in front of a camera. During her career, she took home two Oscars for Best Actress: one in 1940 and one in 1952. I decided it would be fun to compile of list of Oscar related trivia, that you may not know, concerning Vivien.

1. Vivien Leigh, a British actress, won both of her Oscars for portraying 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 Best Actress 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 Academy Awards, 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 (he had been nominated 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 by Shaw and Shakespeare. 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 made a short speech: 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 the Best Supporting Actress award on her behalf.

8. Vivien received her Best Actress Oscar later that year, in London, on June 17th. Johnny Green did the honor of presenting the statuette to Vivien.

Vivien Leigh and Johnny Green

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 thieves broke into her London home, Durham Cottage. They stole her Oscar for A Streetcar Named Desire, along with silverware and miscellaneous clothing. Her Oscar was subsequently replaced by AMPAS.

Vivien as Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire

11. In 1993, Suzanne Farrington (Vivien's daughter), 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 statuette sold for $510,000, 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


Thanks for reading!


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Friday, September 23, 2016

Fashion Friday #11: A Streetcar Named Desire

Vivien Leigh arrived back in the United States on August 1st, 1950, at the Idlewild Airport (now JFK), in New York. She was on her way to Hollywood to begin filming A Streetcar Named Desire. Vivien had originated the role of Blanche on the London stage and would now play her in the movie version. After meeting up with her new director, Elia Kazan, the two of them traveled by transcontinental train to California, stopping off in Wisconsin for a quick visit with her good friends, Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne.

Vivien Leigh and reporters, August 1950
Vivien Leigh and Elia Kazan arrived in Pasadena on August 6th. Vivien stepped off the train, looking as young and relaxed as the day she started Gone With the Wind, with a huge smile on her face and white sunglasses in her hands. “Gadge and I have gone over the script line by line in New York and on the train coming out here,” Vivien told reporters. Gadge was Kazan's nickname.

Elia Kazan and Vivien Leigh
The outfit Vivien chose, to meet and greet everyone, was a two-piece silk ensemble, gray with yellow polka dots, with a full skirt and topped off with a jaunty little hat. She wore the same outfit on multiple occasions, a habit she started with the rehearsals for the London stage version of A Streetcar Named Desire.


When asked whether or not she and Olivier would be staying in the states for an extended duration, she replied,  “Our stay must be limited because we have to return to England to prepare for the great national drama festival, which is the centenary of one held in 1851. It is an event that will fulfill itself in all branches of entertainment, and we both hope to contribute to it as notably as possible. Therefore it will require much time and effort in preparation. Mr. Olivier could not accompany me, because he was concerned in England with the opening of a new play, but as soon as the London premiere is held, he will fly to Hollywood. I expect his arrival next Sunday. He has signed, of course, for a picture at Paramount, the adaptation of Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie.”


Olivier arrived in Hollywood a week after his wife, on August 13th, accompanied by Vivien’s daughter, Suzanne Holman. Vivien and William Wyler greeted the pair at the airport. Olivier showed off his new mustache for his upcoming movie, Carrie. After embracing, Vivien told reporters, “I can’t get used to his mustache. He felt he had better wear it until Mr. Wyler had determined whether or not it would be right for the picture.” Olivier admitted to not liking the mustache. The couple also admitted to reporters that they “would like to tour America sometime on the stage…”


“I never see Larry when he’s writing and directing, so I’m delighted that he’ll just be acting in Carrie Ames for Willie Wyler and Paramount. Even with both of us busy, we may have some time together.”

Another person brought over from the play's Broadway production was costume designer, Lucinda Ballard, who would later receive an Academy Award nomination for her costume designs for the movie. One of the things I most enjoy about Blanche's clothing is that Lucinda seemed to have captured Blanche's very being with her designs. She used soft feminine lines with delicate layers of silk, chiffon, lace and ruffles, reflecting Blanche's fragile state of mind and flirty girlishness.

The first costume from A Streetcar Named Desire is this blue number. The blue chiffon gown has what appears to be a faded covering of pink chiffon, with a ruffled collar and cuffs. Blue silk trim runs through the ruffled collar, ending in a bow at the bodice. The trim also runs through the sleeves' ruffled cuffs.


Vivien wears this gown in several scenes throughout the movie. Here she's pictured with Karl Malden.


Here's another photograph of Vivien wearing the blue dressing gown, captured in a light-hearted moment during a break in filming. She's posing with Gary Cooper, whom I cropped out to get a close-up view of Vivien's costume.


The second costume from A Streetcar Named Desire is this pink dressing gown. This particular robe was auctioned off a few years ago as part of the Debbie Reynolds collection. The pink and ivory silk gown features embroidered silk flowers on the chiffon sleeves with a ruffled collar, cuffs and bottom trim. The auction's catalog noted that the gown was in very fragile condition and that its original color had been hot pink.


Here's Vivien wearing this pink gown, in a scene with Karl Malden. 


It's also the outfit she wears when she tells Karl Malden (in that incredible scene) she wants magic, not realism. I don't want realism. I want magic! Yes, yes, magic! I try to give that to people. I do misrepresent things. I don't tell truths, I tell what ought to be truth. And if that's sinful, then let me be punished for it!

Here's a screenshot of Vivien, again in the pink gown, and Karl together right before he turns on the lights! Both Vivien and Karl won Oscars for their performances: she for Best Actress and he for Best Supporting Actor.



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