Showing posts with label Fashion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fashion. Show all posts

Friday, November 3, 2017

Fashion Friday: Vivien Leigh Models for Motley

In 1940, Vivien Leigh modeled clothing for the department store, Bonwit Teller. The gowns modeled by Vivien were created by Motley, a group of three very talented women, who designed sets and costumes for the stage and screen. Motley worked on several plays that Vivien starred in, including The Happy Hypocrite, Romeo and Juliet and The Doctor's Dilemma.

The outfits for today's Fashion Friday post were inspired by British heraldry. They feature the symbols and colors associated with certain British monarchs.


In this first outfit, Vivien stuns in a gorgeous, pale blue, satin coat. The floor-length coat features amethyst studded sleeves. The sleeves are also heavily embroidered with gold trim and are horizontally slashed, in a crescent shape. This type of 'slashing' was normally done vertically, as in the Elizabethan age, with material from the underdress pulled through the cutouts, to achieve a puffy sleeve.


The coat falls dramatically to the floor in satin waves. It's not hard to imagine how luxurious this material would be to the touch. This rare image of Vivien recently popped up on ebay and sold for $410!  

The New York Times ran an article with a few of these ensembles designed by Motley, called Fashions from Heraldry.


The description printed with this next gown reads: A Black Prince coat appliqued in velvet fleur-de-lis and lions is worn with this black gown. This black gown, in its simplicity, is absolutely stunning on Vivien.


The Black Prince coat referred to in the above description is modeled below. Fleur-de-lis (lilies) and lions are appliqued onto the black velvet jacket. The jacket's hood is lined with a lightweight red wool.


The term Black Prince is a reference to Edward of Woodstock (June 15, 1330 to June 8, 1376), father of King Richard II, from whom the Motleys drew inspiration from for this design. At some point in history, Edward began to be known as the Black Prince. His coat of arms were lions and fleur-de-lis.


Unfortunately, for this next gown, I only have the newspaper photo, which came with the following description: White chiffon is embroidered with crystal beads in sunbursts, the badge of King Richard II. 


Up next is this lovely, red crêpe, evening gown. This draped crimson gown is the shade of the Rose of Lancaster. It features a very deep décolletage, which is accented with flowers.


Finally, we have this gorgeous portrait of Vivien in a floral headdress. Many people confuse this picture with one of Vivien from Romeo and Juliet. The printed description simply states: Roses of York form an evening headdress. The Rose of York was a white rose and represented the House of York. It comprised one half of the Wars of the Roses, which was fought for control of the British throne. The other half fighting for control was the House of Lancaster, represented by the red Rose of Lancaster.


The dress is also embroidered with roses, as pictured on the gown's sleeves.


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


All photos are by Bob Coburn, who had also photographed Vivien for the recently wrapped That Hamilton Woman.  The italicized descriptions are from the New York Times, Fashions from Heraldry, December 29, 1940.



Friday, September 22, 2017

Fashion Friday: Sidewalks of London

In 1938, Vivien Leigh starred in St. Martin's Lane, along with Charles Laughton, Rex Harrison and Tyrone Guthrie. The movie centered around a group of street entertainers known as buskers, who took Vivien's character, Libby, into their group. The U.S. premiere didn't happen until 1940, retitled as Sidewalks of London, taking full advantage of Vivien's newfound stardom as Scarlett O'Hara, in Gone With the Wind.

Vivien Leigh in a publicity portrait for Sidewalks of London
The film received outstanding reviews:

Vivien Leigh has such a quality in her work that I feel she has only just begun. She has allure, charm, sex appeal and acting ability. --John Paddy Carstairs

Charles Laughton will easily clinch his hold on American theater-goers through his shining performance. Vivien Leigh's artistry easily matches that of Laughton as well as measuring up to the standard she set for herself as Scarlett O'Hara! --Daily Variety

A hit picture...literally spiked with good audience stuff. Splendid performances by Charles Laughton and Vivien Leigh. Audiences should take to this picture as ducks to to water! --Hollywood Reporter

For today's Fashion Friday post, I'll be showcasing two of the costumes Vivien Leigh wore in the movie. John Armstrong is the credited costume designer for the film; however, the costumes we'll be looking at today were designed by Victor Stiebel. Vivien had already been acquainted with Stiebel, for a few years, when she attended his showing, in 1938. From this show, she chose the following outfits, for a couple of scenes, in the latter half of the movie.

A sketch of Victor Stiebel's striped jacket for Vivien Leigh 
Vivien wears this delightful jacket and skirt ensemble, when she returns to the boardinghouse, looking for Charles. The linen jacket featured black and white stripes, while the skirt stayed the course in pure black. Stiebel decided to embrace the idea of a longer jacket and made it less tight on the body, than in previous seasons. The jacket featured a wide belt, emphasizing Vivien's small waist. The skirt also came out a little fuller than what was considered normal in 1938.


The ensemble's accessories included a black purse, gloves and a matching, straw hat that tied beneath the chin.

Unfortunately, I don't have photographs of Vivien from the movie wearing this outfit. I did do some screenshots from youtube. Warning-- they are really poor quality, however, you can still see how great Vivien looked in this outfit.

Victor Stiebel's advice on dressing well: My attitude towards dress designing has always been one, which, while fully appreciating the psychological confidence good clothes give to a woman, it really concentrates more on personalities. 


One fashion critic called Vivien's jacket a throwback to menswear from the turn of the century. I can kind of see the resemblance with the suit jacket on the left.


Vivien kept this particular outfit from the film and was photographed wearing it on a couple of different occasions. It even looks like the same blouse and brooch, too.



Victor Stiebel, the famous dress designer, gives his recipe for chic. Here it is. Black — except for dramatic occasions. Simplicity always. Money spent, on the woman herself, rather than the actual garment. He says clothes should be a frame for well-groomed hair, hands and face. He gives full marks to the dress which makes you remember the woman and not what she had on.

A sketch of Victor Stiebel's dress featured in Sidewalks of London
As you can see from the stylish models pictured below, wearing a large bouquet of flowers across your bodice was quite fashionable. The models, pictured at the fashion show, wear eerily similar gowns. The first gown was designed by Motley, who, coincidentally, designed several of Vivien's costumes for plays. The second gown was designed by Victor Stiebel and it's the one Vivien chose for her character.

When you show up at a party thinking you'll be the only girl with a tree on her chest...
Stiebel's gown originally came with a tulle veil, made from three different pastel colors, that clung to the head via an apple blossom crown. Alas, the veil didn't make the cut and wasn't in the movie. 

Photo by Angus McBean
This is actually one of my favorite dresses that Vivien wears in the film. The dress was made from slipper satin, which is defined on wikipedia as a stiff and medium-to heavy-weight fabric. The material is tightly woven and slightly lighter than duchess satin.


Here's a close-up look at the detail on the bodice. There was actually a lot of talk about how Stiebel's low bodices, such as the one pictured here, managed to stay up without straps. The bodice with no visible means of support is waspish.


The gown was a lovely silver in color, though one fashion critic called it a dreary oyster grey. The bodice featured the gown's only decoration: apple tree leaves in full blossom.




I'm including this next screenshot to show the length and movement of the gown's full skirt. Also, to simply show how lush and gorgeous the satin material looked.



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


Facebook
Instagram
Twitter



Friday, September 8, 2017

Fashion Friday: Scarlett's Red Dress

Today's Fashion Friday post is about Scarlett's scandalous, red ball gown. Rhett forces her to wear the dress to Ashley's surprise birthday party. Earlier in the day, Scarlett and Ashley were caught hugging by India Wilkes. Scarlett doesn't want to go to the party, but Rhett won't have anything to do with her cowardice.

Rhett (Clark Gable) embraces Scarlett (Vivien Leigh)

Rhett: You're not ready for Melanie's party.
Scarlett: I've got a headache, Rhett. You go without me and make my excuses to Melanie.
Rhett: What a white, livered, little coward you are! Get up. You're going to that party and you'll have to hurry.
Scarlett: Has India dare--?
Rhett: Yes, my dear, India has. Every woman in town knows the story and every man, too.
Scarlett: You should have killed them, spreading lies.
Rhett: I have a strange way of not killing people who tell the truth. No time to argue. Now get up.
Scarlett: I won't go. I can't go until this, this, misunderstanding is cleared up.
Rhett: You're not going to cheat Miss Melly out of the satisfaction of publicly ordering you out of her house.
Scarlett: There was nothing wrong. India hates me so. I- I can't go, Rhett. I couldn't face them!
Rhett: If you don't show your face tonight, you'll never be able to show it in this town as long as you live. And while that wouldn't bother me, you're not going to ruin Bonnie's chances. You're going to that party, if only for her sake. Get dressed.

GWTW Publicity Photo

Rhett: Wear that. Nothing modest or matronly will do for this occasion. And put on plenty of rouge. I want you to look your part tonight.


Scarlett and Rhett arrive at Ashley's birthday party

Rhett: Good night, Scarlett
Scarlett: But, Rhett, you've-- 
Rhett: You go into the arena alone. The lions are hungry for you.
Scarlett: Oh, Rhett don't leave me. Don't.
Rhett: You're not afraid? (and then walks away)

As most fans of Gone With the Wind know, all of Scarlett's costumes were designed by the amazing Walter Plunkett. David Selznick, the film's producer, brought Plunkett on board as early as 1936. Walter was a native Californian, who'd been designing costumes for the movies since 1926. The imdb website credits him as costume designer on almost 300 movies.

For his research on Gone With the Wind, Plunkett traveled to the Southern U.S., visiting Atlanta, Savannah and Charleston, in search of inspiration for his costumes. He met with Margaret Mitchell, who gave him a list of books to help guide him in his fashion search. He also met with the Daughters of the Confederacy, where one of the ladies gave him fabric samples of dresses worn during the time of the Civil War (1861 to 1865).

Walter Plunkett and Vivien Leigh

In the book, Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell imagined Scarlett's dress of shame as jade green. [Rhett] drew out her new jade green watered silk dress. It was cut low over the bosom and the skirt was draped back over an enormous bustle and on the bustle was a huge bunch of pink velvet roses. However, the final product was re-imagined in red.

In a memo to Raymond Klune, the production manager, David Selznick wrote: ...The third part of the picture should, by its colors alone, dramatize the difference between Scarlett and the rest of the people-- Scarlett extravagantly and colorfully costumed against the drabness of the other principals and of the extras. ...This picture in particular gives us the opportunity occasionally-- as in our opening scenes and as in Scarlett's costumes-- to throw a violent dab of color at the audience to sharply make a dramatic point.

Front of Scarlett's Red Ball Gown (from the HRC)

The red ball gown recently went through a restoration by the Harry Ransom Center. The conservationists discovered that additional feathers had been added to the gown, which they subsequently removed. There were also weights in the gown's hem, (which is pretty common in skirts and dresses to keep hems from flying up on windy days and to keep trains in place), which over the years had caused damage. They were removed to prevent further tearing of the dress.

Detail of the glass beading on the bodice (from the HRC)

This sleeveless, silk velvet gown is embellished with glass teardrop beads and round, red faceted beads at the neckline and a profusion of ostrich feathers around the shoulders. Rhett's choice of an ostentatious gown in an immodest burgundy-red color is intended to humiliate Scarlett. -description of dress from the Harry Ransom Center.

Back side of Scarlett's Red Ball Gown (from the HRC)


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





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!