Friday, March 3, 2017

Quoted in NEW YORK POST Article "How Movies Change the Way We Dress"


I was so pleased when New York Post reporter Raquel Laneri reached out to me a week ago to discuss the impact of film on fashion, particularly that of Oscar-nominated and winning pictures. Though our focus was on more recent movies, we happily talked about influential costume design going all the way back to Mary Pickford and Gloria Swanson in the silent era. Our conversation then continued through the decades and included style stars like Clara Bow and Joan Crawford in the 1920s through to Audrey Hepburn in the 1950s and 1960s. Those actresses didn't make it into the final article, but Faye Dunaway and Ali MacGraw and their trend-setting 1970s films did. I am quoted along with FIDM Museum curator Kevin Jones in a piece called "How Movies Change the Way We Dress," which you can read online. It also hit newsstands the Monday after the Oscars® in a three-page spread you can see below. And if you want to learn more about the most influential costume design on fashion decade by decade, you can visit my list of The Style Essentials.



Thursday, March 2, 2017

Cinema Connection--Influence of Classic Costume Design at the 2017 Academy Awards


Any who follow GlamAmor know that one of my missions in life is to put a spotlight on the costume designers from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Their work continues to inspire fashion today and is one way to show the ongoing relevance of classic cinema. There are many examples of their influence in the fashion industry each season as trends come and go, but the red carpet is always a place that relies on Hollywood glamour and takes its cues from iconic costume design. For those who weren't with me on social media last Sunday night, here are some of my #CinemaConnection sightings from the 2017 Academy Awards.


Jennifer Aniston in Versace and
Michelle Pfeiffer in Patricia Norris for 1983's Scarface


Charlize Theron in Christian Dior Haute Couture and
Marilyn Monroe in Travilla for 1953's Gentlemen Prefer Blondes


Kirsten Dunst also in Christian Dior Haute Couture and
Elizabeth Taylor in Edith Head for 1951's A Place in the Sun


Octavia Spencer in Marchesa and
Ginger Rogers in Bernard Newman for 1935's Top Hat


E! Entertainment host Giuliana Rancic in Georges Chakra Couture and
Grace Kelly in Edith Head for 1955's To Catch a Thief

 
Fans watching the red carpet at the 1946 Academy Awards

Photo above courtesy of the Department of Water and Power, Los Angeles
Opening photo courtesy of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS)

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Happy 7th Birthday, GlamAmor!


February has been so busy, but it's important for me to pause before the month is through to do a little celebrating. GlamAmor just turned 7! Though much of the brand started in late 2009, the website went live on February 8, 2010, so that is the milestone I mark each year.

As many of you know, my time is now split between managing marketing for three of Sony's movie channels and my own film history work for GlamAmor. But make no mistake - I always try to be an ambassador for classic cinema, and I am passionate about proving its ongoing relevance, particularly through the HISTORY OF FASHION IN FILM. This past year has included the following opportunities for me to discuss its importance:

--Expert for a New York Post article on Oscar-nominated (and winning) costume design called "How Movies Changed the Way We Dress"
--Expert for a BBC Worldwide documentary on the glamorous legacy of seven actresses - from Clara Bow in the 1920s to Audrey Hepburn in the 1960s
--Expert for a documentary on the ARTE European Cultural Channel on costume designer Jean Louis and Marilyn Monroe
--Guest speaker for an ongoing series at the Annenberg Beach House on the THE STYLE ESSENTIALS: HISTORY OF FASHION IN FILM 1920s-1980s (last talk in series coming in May)
--Host and producer of a video interview with Monika Henreid delving into the iconic style of NOW, VOYAGER and CASABLANCA as well as backstories of those films

Right around the corner on April 4 is yet another talk I'm giving. This one is supplemental to the TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF) and is called FASHION IN FILM OF TCMFF: SOPHISTICATED COMEDIES 1930s-1950s. It's already waitlist only, but I still encourage people to sign up. I'm so pleased how excited people are about the event. 

I thoroughly enjoy sharing what I love about classic film and hearing how people have been inspired to watch the movies after coming to my talks, taking my college class or online webinars, or watching my videos. I definitely want to be in front of the camera more.

I deeply appreciate everyone who continues to support my work and are as passionate about classic cinema and its influence as I am.  As always, it's just me trying to do it all--from the creative to the technological--and I do my best to remain connected to you.  This is why the GlamAmor network reaches so wide with this website (2.5 million+ visitors) and social media (10 channels including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Google+). I'm also working to bring back the e-newsletter on a more regular basis again.  

I love seeing so many of you join in the conversation. Thanks to all of you and I can't wait to see what 2017 will bring!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

GlamAmor Video! THE STYLE ESSENTIALS: CONVERSATIONS with Guest Monika Henreid


Last Fall I decided to start a new video series for GlamAmor called The Style Essentials: Conversations. For those who are new to GlamAmor, The Style Essentials is my list of movies with the most iconic costume design that impacted fashion when they first premiered and continue to do so today. The idea was to create a series where I would speak with other experts about the history of the films that feature such influential costume design. My relationships with people in the classic film community are so important to me, so what could be better than capturing some of our conversations on camera. 

I knew my first guest would have to be my friend Monika Henreid. Monika is the daughter of Paul Henreid - star of Now, Voyager and Casablanca, both among The Style Essentials - and is a talented filmmaker in her own right. When we get together, we love to talk about film history. Our conversation in the video includes quite a bit about the making of those two movies and their backstories, including those of the actors and directors.

Of course you'll also learn more about the costume designer of Now, Voyager and Casablanca - Orry-Kelly. The video starts with an introduction to his life and career, and then Monika and I discuss his talent, some of what makes his designs unique, and things he needed to consider when designing for Bette Davis and Ingrid Bergman. We also talk a bit about the process of costume design, particularly what went into costumes for Paul Henreid. It's somewhat rare that men's costume design is discussed, so I hope you like that aspect of the conversation.

Our talk is actually quite timely. For one, 2017 is the 75th anniversary of both Now, Voyager and Casablanca. January also happens to be Paul Henreid's birthday month. The stars could not be more aligned to have this conversation and share it with you all. I hope you enjoy it.



Monika Henreid and I after our conversation (of course I'm wearing vintage with an Orry-Kelly collar) 
and at the Roosevelt Hotel at last year's TCM Classic Film Festival




Orry-Kelly (above and below left) was contemporaries with other legendary costume designers
 (l-r) Bernard Newman (RKO), Travis Banton (Paramount), Edith Head (Paramount), Adrian (MGM), and Irene (MGM)



Striking the set after shooting wraps
and sunset over Santa Monica beach that night

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

You're Invited! Presenting HISTORY OF FASHION IN FILM 1960s at Annenberg Beach House 2/7


It's that time again! I'm back at the Annenberg Beach House at the top of February, and this talk will be celebrating iconic 1960s style.

Tuesday, February 7th
THE STYLE ESSENTIALS: HISTORY OF FASHION IN FILM 1960s

6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Guest speaker
Annenberg Beach House 
Santa Monica, CA

If you love style in the movies, you are invited to learn all about THE STYLE ESSENTIALS: HISTORY OF FASHION IN FILM in an extensive 6-part series. THE STYLE ESSENTIALS represent iconic costume design from the 1920s to the 1980s that immediately impacted fashion at the time the films premiered and continues to influence design today. There is one presentation per decade from the 1920s to the 1970s and 1980s. 

Our fifth talk of the series focuses on the style icons from the 1960s--including Audrey Hepburn, Jean Seberg, Catherine Deneuve, and Faye Dunaway. Each presentation includes stills from the movies along with images from today's fashion accompanied by a conversation about film history, costume and fashion designers, and fascinating backstories of the stars. 

Event is free to the public, but you must RSVP in order to reserve your seat.


Marion Davies' original Guest House today (above)
and that Guest House (below, left) as part of Marion Davies' grand beachfront estate



Marion Davies greeting her guests at the original Beach House



Our event space at the new Beach House


Looking forward to seeing you soon!


To see dates and details of the rest of the series,
visit the GlamAmor Events page

Thursday, December 15, 2016

GlamAmor-ous Holidays--Irene Suits Christmas Style in 1947's LADY IN THE LAKE


Every year at this time I enjoy looking at style in movies that celebrate the holidays. In the past, this has included The Thin Man (1934), The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942), and White Christmas (1954). These are always accompanied by a Classic Holidays playlist I share on GlamAmor's YouTube channel that is filled with films, clips, and even radio programs from earlier eras. This Christmas I have chosen to cover a holiday film that's a bit more unconventional. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love film noir, so I couldn't resist looking at 1947's Lady in the Lake.

Though it may not sound like a holiday picture, you'll find there are several ways in which it is. First, it takes place around Christmas and has it as a backdrop to the story. Lady in the Lake even starts with titles that look like holiday cards with a medley of carols behind them. A choir sings "Jingle Bells," "Angels We Have Heard on High," "The First Noel," "Deck the Halls," and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" all through the opening credits. The noir touch is seen when the last title card is taken away. A gun is revealed beneath them all, a weapon that is central to the story and may be responsible for a murder. Or two. Or three.

Some people do find fault with Lady in the Lake, but there are several reasons to appreciate it. One of the biggest is that it is based on the 1943 novel by Raymond Chandler. Of course Chandler is well known in the world of noir - his work is the basis for multiple films, including The Big Sleep and Murder, My Sweet (based on his novel Farewell, My Lovely) in addition to Lady in the Lake (based on his novel The Lady in the Lake). The private detective Phillip Marlowe is the protagonist in each of these and played by Humphrey Bogart, Dick Powell, and Robert Montgomery, respectively, in the movie adaptations.

Montgomery is another reason to watch Lady in the Lake. The role is a bit against type considering all the sophisticated comedies he was known for at MGM. He signed a contract with the studio in 1929 and was soon paired with MGM's biggest stars. In 1930 alone, he appeared opposite Greta Garbo in Inspiration, Norma Shearer in The Divorcee (chosen by her), and Joan Crawford in Our Blushing Brides. Though Clark Gable is a more well known name today, Montgomery was also extremely popular with audiences and even co-starred in four films with Gable. Montgomery was one of the studio's great leading men during Hollywood's Golden Age.

In 1945, he appeared in John Ford's 1945 film They Were Expendable. It would become a turning point in Montgomery's career because he got the opportunity to direct some scenes when Ford fell ill. Only a year or so later, he would be at the helm of Lady in the Lake and it would be his last film for MGM. As a director, he made an ambitious choice - he shot the movie with a first person point-of-view. In other words, it's as if the audience becomes Phillip Marlowe and sees everything as he would. Chandler's novels with Marlowe are written in the first person and the thought was to tell the cinematic story the same way. Many know this perspective from another film noir Dark Passage, but that actually came out nine months after Lady in the Lake. Even so, Lady in the Lake goes further and uses the technique almost through the entire picture.


Yet another reason to appreciate this movie is for the style of its costume designer - Irene Lentz Gibbons. Known to the world simply as Irene, she was a great designing talent. Though born in Montana, she spent most of her life in Los Angeles. She attended the Wolfe School of Design and then created a line of clothing for her own boutique near USC in 1926. She was so good that Hollywood stars like Dolores Del Rio, Carole Lombard, and Irene Dunne started sneaking from the studios to visit her salon. That first store was so successful that she moved to a better location on Highland Avenue in 1928, and then to an even better one on Sunset Boulevard in 1929.

At this point, Irene had really made a name for herself in town and the mighty Bullocks-Wilshire department store came calling. They hired her as their Head Designer and even more stars like Marlene Dietrich, Paulette Goddard, and Loretta Young sought her out for their off-screen wardrobes. It was Del Rio who first asked Irene to design for her on-screen wardrobes as well, starting with 1933's Flying Down to Rio. This began the practice of all of the movie studios treating Irene and Bullocks-Wilshire as something of a supplemental costume design department. 1937's Shall We Dance and Topper are just two films from this time that feature Irene's design.

In 1942, Adrian left MGM as their head of costume design and Louis B. Mayer turned to Irene to take over the department. It was actually a difficult decision for her to make considering the autonomy she had come to enjoy with her own business and even at Bullocks-Wilshire, something that would not continue if she joined MGM. That said, it was an opportunity she simply couldn't refuse. Carole Lombard in To Be Or Not To Be (1942), Lana Turner in The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946), and Esther Williams in Neptune's Daughter (1949) are all examples of her work while at MGM. Toward the end of her tenure at the studio, she even arranged to be able to work on her own line of clothes Irene, Inc. once again.

Irene was well known for her impeccable tailoring, especially in the skirt suits that were popular during the fabric-rationed World War II era. You will see several of these on Lady in the Lake star Audrey Totter. Totter really carries the movie as Adrienne Fromsett (especially since you so rarely see Montgomery/Marlowe) and does so in sharply tailored jackets with strong shoulders and no superfluous details. Her robes and dresses also have the understated elegance and perfect fit that were consistently part of Irene's designs. Due to the film's first person point-of-view and the fact that Totter faces the camera so frequently, her costumes are on perfect display.

Lady in the Lake may not be well known to most people, nor is it normally considered a holiday picture, but it because of this that I share it with you now. With Raymond Chandler as the story's source, Robert Montgomery as both actor and director, and elegant costumes by Irene for Audrey Totter, there's a lot to enjoy. It may even get you in the spirit of the season. Happy holidays to all!


After the holiday cards title sequence
the last card is taken away to reveal a gun




Phillip Marlowe (Robert Montgomery) tells some of the story from behind his office desk -
there are nods to Raymond Chandler's own background in pulp fiction 



The sexy secretary (Lila Leeds) who greets Marlowe at Kingsby Publications



We meet editor Adrienne Fromsett (Audrey Totter)
who wants Marlowe to find the missing wife of her boss Derace Kingsby (Leon Ames)



Since the film is shot with a first person perspective
we only really see Marlowe in mirror reflections



After a confrontational visit to the suspect Chris Lavery's house,
Marlowe winds up in jail and embrangled with the Bay City police
including Lt. DeGarmot (Lloyd Nolan, left)




This is a quintessential Irene suit - 
note the detail on the neckline that makes it more visually interesting



Marlowe pays a very late night visit to Adrienne
after doing some investigating at the lake


Though this is meant to be a robe, 
it's more like one of Irene's gowns



Lavery's landlady (Jayne Meadows) surprises Marlowe 
with a gun she said she found on the stairs



Marlowe crashes the Kingsby office Christmas party 
with news of his latest visit to Lavery's house


Marlowe's Christmas gift to Adrienne?
 Surprising her with the murder weapon from Lavery's house



Adrienne visits Marlowe in a very 1940s fur coat -
note the broad shoulders that were a trademark of the era -
with the hope he will continue working on her case



While investigating yet another suspicious death,
Marlowe starts to be trailed by a mysterious car



Turns out he's being trailed by a police car
and it's Lt. DeGarmot



Marlowe calls Adrienne for help after the car accident



Adrienne definitely seems like she's softening and falling for Marlowe
(and vice versa)



Christmas morning finds Adrienne feeling domestic
and cooking breakfast for Marlowe




Kingsby interrupts their Christmas evening together with a telegram from his wife Crystal -
this robe is so beautiful it's more like a gown




Marlowe meets up with a mysterious woman who claims to be Crystal Kingsby



Marlowe starts figuring out the true identity of the woman (Meadows again)
and confirming all he suspects about DeGarmot



Test audiences wanted to see Marlowe and Adrienne get together,
so Montgomery and Totter came back to film this kiss for the end


Happy holidays!


Sources

Billeci, Frank and Lauranne B. Fisher. Irene: A Designer from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 2013.

Jorgensen, Jay and Donald L. Scoggins. Creating the Illusion. Running Press, 2015.

Leese, Elizabeth. Costume Design in the Movies. Dover Publications, Inc., 1991.

Muller, Eddie. Email. 10 December 2016.

"Robert Montgomery." IMDb, 8 December 2016, http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0599910/.
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