Friday, March 29, 2013
As styles have changed from the early days of cinema in the silent era, to the latest fashions seen in current films today, trends and influences have always been closely followed via film. For me, my favorite fashion in film choices were beautifully worn by two legendary actresses during the same era: Doris Day and Grace Kelly.
Any classic film fan worth their salt knows the story of Grace Kelly. She was the Irish American girl from Philly who possessed the big screen with such stunning beauty and elegance that she charmed a Monacan prince and become a real-life princess. During her film career, Kelly always brought her personal beauty to every role. But her beauty and grace was never more radiant than when she shined in Alfred Hitchcock's REAR WINDOW (1954).
What's amazing about the fashion in this film is that every single outfit Kelly wears is breath-taking. Each costume design reflects a clean, simple and feminine glamor inspirational to mid-century American design. Credit obviously must go to costume designing genius Edith Head but also to director Alfred Hitchcock. Edith Head was already a living legend by now and had a long and successful working relationship with Hitch. Hitchcock worked closely with Head in every step of the design process to ensure it mirrored the mood, tone and story-telling.
When we are initially introduced to Lisa (portrayed by Grace Kelly), she is dressed in a formal and feminine dress of a black fitted deep-plunged V-top and white billowy chiffon skirt detailed with black design branching out from the waist, all topped off with simple choker of pearls. She models for us and even shows off the sheer white chiffon wrap. A stunning entrance...
My next favorite example of a similarly simple, clean and exquisite 50's design is beautifully worn by the legendary Doris Day in PILLOW TALK (1959). Also a popular platinum blond actress with a flawless figure, Doris Day was already the premier film fashionista by the time PILLOW TALK hit the big screen. This film is a showcase for her terrific comedic timing and charming chemistry with co-star Rock Hudson, but it's Day's parade of costume changes that keeps me absolutely mesmerized no matter how many times I watch it.
While Bill Thomas is listed as PILLOW TALK's costume designer, it's no secret that famous designer Jean Louis, also known for Rita Hayworth's sexy strapless gown in GILDA (1946), was the creator of all her gowns for this film. Here are some gorgeous highlights from this battle-of-the-sexes classic:
A boxy suit in a perfect hue of lapis azure with a black fur hat. The lines are simple, yet bold (the collar lapels extend just past the shoulder hem.) Black and blue never looked better.
A creamy beige sheath dress and coat topped off by a red lampshade hat displays another lovely twist on the monochromatic theme. The dress is cinched with matching wide belt and pendant and both the dress and coat have 3/4 length sleeves. Perfectly suited to Doris Day in every way.
This long winter white sheath dress is a clear stand-out in the film (so much so that they made a Barbie doll copy of it.) Floor length, sleeveless, wrapping the shoulders and gathered to the left shoulder, with a deep open plunge in the back... this outfit literally fit her like a glove. Speaking of which, the extremely long gloves and fur shrug- also in a monochromatic shades of white - pulled together the most stunning outfit in the film. Isn't she heavenly in shades of white?
I love how this gathered forest green 'strapless dress' with spaghetti straps shows off Day's shapely figure but the emerald green satin A-line swing coat with bold lines really makes a statement when she walks into the room. But I must admit, I have never cared for the choice of turquoise and gold jewelry; because to me, it simply doesn't match in either color nor in formality.
In shades of olive and dark green, I really enjoyed this fitted bodice dress with matching fur hat. The gold and brown toned jewelry is the right compliment.
This off-white belted sweater dress with roll neck shows off her most flattery tones- monochromatic shades of white. Set design was purposefully set in white-wash to assist in this visual feast of complimentary color.
This red coat (same bold red as seen earlier with her lampshade chapeau) makes an incredible entrance with leopard animal print lampshade hat with matching muff. I adore this outfit and would personally wear this ensemble in a heartbeat. Apparently I'm not the only one who thought this look was worth repeating as Audrey Hepburn is shown wearing a similar outfit a few years later in CHARADE (1963). I recall a faux dark mink muff I carried around as a little girl. I long for the return of hats, long gloves, and muffs making a comeback.
Finally, I must draw attention to this little black velvet suit. Simple yet plentiful in cuteness factor. It's always in the details. I love the piping trim, the bow on the cream blouse, and the crushed velvet beret with adornment... all adding up to an adorable outfit from what could have been just a boring black suit.
There are a few outfits and many nighties/ pajamas from PILLOW TALK (after all, it is about the battle of the sexes) that I chose not to include in my line-up. Frankly, I'm just not a fan of the 50's style polyester/rayon nightie. But, I hope you have enjoyed the fashions from these two films as I have and continue to do so; time and time again, every time I enjoy these two films. Both Grace Kelly and Doris Day carry some key similarities... both outstanding platinum blond actresses with intelligence, beauty, grace and sophistication. But without a doubt, they are in a league of their own in terms of fashion trendsetters for their roles in these two iconic films.