Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Cinema Style File - 1946: the Greatest Year in Film Noir Style


I recently gave another presentation on iconic 1940s fashion in film, and every time I do this talk I declare 1946 to be the second greatest year in film history. Of course 1939 has long been regarded the best - completely justified with movie premieres that included Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Women, Ninotchka, Stagecoach, and many many more. But 1946 is a year that's close to my heart and could be in contention for second place, particularly when you consider its style.  

Years ago I decided to put together a list of 50 of the most influential costume design in the movies - I called it The Style Essentials. First I looked at iconic costume design in general. Then I narrowed the list to those films that impacted the way people dressed in the era they premiered - movies that have become historically and culturally relevant because they helped define what we now consider 1920s style, 1930s style, and so on. Finally, I narrowed the list even further and limited it to those costumes that continue to influence design today. When I analyzed the 1940s, I was amazed at the number that came from 1946 alone.  

1946 was a banner year for film in general. With all the returning servicemen from World War II, it meant big numbers at the box office and classics like The Best Years of Our Lives, It's a Wonderful Life, My Darling Clementine, The Razor's Edge, and Duel in the Sun all came out that year. But we now can see that this was a year when film noir reigned supreme. It's amazing to me the number of greats from the genre that made their debut in 1946. What's even more amazing is how much their style has become so well known and important. Most fashion designers know these costumes very well and refer to them again and again in their work. And anyone who simply loves the glamour of fashion runways and red carpets also knows these costumes - including the look of the hair and makeup - even if they've never seen the movies. 

The first three film noir below are included on my list of The Style Essentials. Interestingly, two of the three had costume designers who themselves had lives that sound straight out of film noir. More to the point, the ends of their lives sound straight out of film noir. Vera West, Univeral's head of costume design for two decades, died a suspicious death not long after she left the studio and started her own couturier. She tragically drowned in her pool and left notes behind that suggested she had been blackmailed for many years. Ruled a suicide, questions have entered the story since then such as her husband's behavior around the time of her death. On the other hand, there were no questions about the death of Irene, who was head of costume design at MGM. She checked into the Knickerbocker Hotel in Hollywood and leapt to her death from her 11th floor window. This was an extremely gifted woman with multiple boutiques and a tenure at the famed Bullocks Wilshire salon before she took the helm at MGM. Like West, Irene's life was filled with great success, but also with challenges she clearly could not overcome.

Putting these tragedies aside, it's the talent of these women and the other costume designers I want us to celebrate. The examples below are only a fraction of the incredible film style from 1946. To show some of their impact, I've also included examples of modern fashion and contemporary costume design relating to the three from The Style Essentials. Several are linked so you may read more about the movies or the designers and their body of work. 

1946 is a year from the past that's very much a part of our present due to this costume design. If you admire the style, I strongly encourage you to watch these films and see all that they have to offer. 

(above) The Postman Always Rings Twice at Hollywood's Egyptian Theater in 1946


One of The Style Essentials -
Gilda with costume design by Jean Louis


Some of the influence of Gilda on the red carpet -
Sandra Bullock in Alexander McQueen at the 2015 Oscars (above)
and Olivia Munn in Marchesa at the 2013 Oscars



Another of The Style Essentials -
The Killers with costume design by Vera West


Some of the influence of The Killers on the red carpet -
Mila Kunis in Christian Dior at the 2012 Golden Globes (above) and
Sofia Vergara in Donna Karan Atelier at the 2013 SAG Awards



The third of The Style Essentials from 1946 -
The Postman Always Rings Twice with costume design by Irene


Femmes fatale in neo-noir channel Lana's (almost) all white wardrobe of Postman -
Michelle Pfeiffer in 1983's Scarface (above) 
and Kathleen Turner in 1980's Body Heat



Other influential film noir costume design from 1946 includes
The Big Sleep with costume design by Leah Rhodes


The Blue Dahlia with costume design by Edith Head


Notorious with costume design again by Edith Head


The Strange Love of Martha Ivers with costume design yet again by Edith Head


Humoresque with costume design by Adrian


The Stranger with costume design by Michael Woulfe (above)
and Deception with costume design by Orry-Kelly

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

You're invited! Presenting HISTORY OF FASHION IN FILM 1940s at Annenberg Beach House 8/2


Tuesday, August 2
THE STYLE ESSENTIALS: HISTORY OF FASHION IN FILM 1940s

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 that immediately impacted fashion at the time the films premiered and continues to influence design today. There will be one presentation per decade from the 1920s to the 1970s and 1980s. 

The third talk in the series focuses on the style icons of Old Hollywood during the 1940s--including Rita Hayworth, Lauren Bacall, Veronica Lake, and Lana Turner. 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 to reserve your seat in order to attend.  



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, May 19, 2016

You're invited! Presenting HISTORY OF FASHION IN FILM 1930s at Annenberg Beach House 5/24


Tuesday, May 24th
THE STYLE ESSENTIALS: HISTORY OF FASHION IN FILM 1930s

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 will be one presentation per decade from the 1920s to the 1970s and 1980s. 

The second talk in the series takes place this Tuesday and focuses on the style icons of Old Hollywood during the 1930s--including Marlene Dietrich, Jean Harlow, Ginger Rogers, and Joan Crawford. Each presentation will include 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 to reserve your seat in order to attend.  


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

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

TCM Classic Film Festival 2016 - The Pictures that Moved Me


The theme for this year's TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF) - Moving Pictures - was intended to apply to the films that were chosen for the event's four days of screenings. The programming team accomplished that mission and then some as you can see by some of the films I saw (above). That said, some of the most moving pictures from the festival had to do with the ones I got from the event itself. I've said it before - and others have said it before - but the best thing about TCMFF is the people. This is the place where I've made such strong friendships that they're now more like family. And that family seems to grow year after year. These relationships are often sustained by social media since so many of us are present there, but TCMFF allows us an intense family reunion where we get together to celebrate the thing that we love so much - classic cinema.

This year the schedule had a couple films that I include in my public talks and are among The Style Essentials here on GlamAmor - 1932's Shanghai Express and 1976's Network. They were practically the bookends that began and ended my personal programming for the festival, and both were accompanied by very special guests. Shanghai Express was preceded by a discussion with Josef von Sternberg's son Nicholas, and it was intriguing to listen to his stories about shooting the movie as well as seeing his father's vintage viewfinder. Watching this stunning film, with costume design that means so much to me, literally brought tears to my eyes. For those who attended the screening who would like to learn more about the costumes from Shanghai Express, be sure to take a look at the article I wrote on the collaboration between Marlene Dietrich and Travis Banton.

Then my last movie at the festival - Network - was preceded by a special 2-hour interview between TCM host Ben Mankiewicz and star Faye Dunaway at the Montalbán Theatre. Right after that discussion, I hustled over to the Egyptian Theatre (after a quick bite at Musso & Frank's) to watch another intro from Ben and Faye and the screening of Network. Of course the movie is eerie in how it predicted the future of ("reality") television back in the 1970s. But now, after working a year at Sony Pictures Television and managing marketing for three of their channels, I can attest how on point many of Network's scenes are. It certainly reached even more levels of meaning for me.

In between Shanghai Express and Network, the festival was filled with other films and incredible moments. An absolutely beautiful restoration of 1937's When You're in Love was screened at the festival, introduced by Cary Grant's daughter Jennifer. More important was that one of the main people responsible for the restoration - Sony's Rita Belda - was also at the festival. If you saw the film and would like to learn more about the restoration process, you can read this interview I did with her for the getTV website. I adore Rita, and we were able to see one another a couple of times at the festival and shared a wonderful dinner together at the Roosevelt Hotel.

Other highlights included celebrating a couple of the genres I love - Pre-Code and film noir. Though shut out of a screening of Double Harness with William Powell (which was also sold out on Sunday, too), I was able to see 1933's Pleasure Cruise. It completely lived up to the reputation of a Pre-Code - opening on what seemed to be the body of a naked woman (turned out to be a clever use of a painting) and centering on the subject of adultery in such a humorous way that almost every conversation seemed to be about sex. And then for fans of film noir, it's hard to do too much better than 1946's The Big Sleep at the Egyptian Theatre. It was even introduced by my friend and Film Noir Foundation founder Eddie Muller. Though not technically on my Style Essentials list, it does get an honorable mention due to its close tie with another Bogart-Bacall classic To Have and Have Not. Both have beyond influential style. The Big Sleep also has extra meaning for me as you'll see if you read my article on the film (linked above).

As with any TCMFF, there were multiple gatherings and many meals with friends throughout - from poolside at the Roosevelt Hotel to Miceli's and Musso & Frank's, which are two of the oldest restaurants in Hollywood. You'll see some of my escapades below.

Until next year, my friends...



The Roosevelt Hotel in its earliest days



Entering the Roosevelt Hotel - the center for all festival activities -
for the first day of TCMFF 2016



The Blossom Room in the Roosevelt Hotel, which was home to the first Academy Awards,
was the location of many festival events including the annual Meet TCM panel




My first outfit of the festival included a vintage black silk shirtdress
and snow leopard faux fur pumps (my 1950s black patent purse is off-camera)


There were many times that I found myself poolside at the Roosevelt Hotel,
including for a #TCMParty gathering right before the first evening's film


My friend Monika Henreid - daughter of Casablanca star Paul Henreid -
joined us at the festival and shared stories of the documentary she is directing on her father


So happy to see and spend time with good friends (l to r):
Annmarie Gatti, Aurora Bugallo, Kellee Pratt, Will McKinley, and Sara Henriksson


First film of the festival for me was the 1925 silent film The Freshman
starring Harold Lloyd - screened poolside at TCMFF 2016


The film was introduced by friend Eddie Muller and Harold Lloyd's granddaughter Suzanne



Next film of the festival for me was a personal favorite - 
Marlene Dietrich in 1932's Shanghai Express



A discussion with director Josef von Sternberg's son Nicholas preceded the film,
which had several of my friends with me in attendance




Though I tried to see the Pre-Code Double Harness with William Powell, 
it was sold out so I headed straight for another from the genre - Pleasure Cruise



Next film on my agenda was the restoration of 1937's When You're in Love
introduced by Cary Grant's daughter Jennifer




Saturday morning began at the historic Egyptian Theatre



First film there that day for me was 1957's A Face in the Crowd 



My position at #1 in line for A Face in the Crowd allowed me to meet and greet many friends,
including Kellee who seemed to get the same fashion memo I did - mine is 1970s vintage


Another friend dropped by to say hello -
Sony's film restoration queen Rita Belda (who worked on When You're in Love)



Next at the Egyptian Theatre was The Big Sleep
introduced by Film Noir Foundation founder Eddie Muller



Next...standing in line with friends John Ball and Karin Baker (along with 900+ other people)
to see The King and I at the Chinese Theatre






The King and I began with a discussion by Leonard Maltin and the movie's star Rita Moreno
(who seems to have similar taste in shoes to my own)

Photo below courtesy of Turner Classic Movies



Back at the Roosevelt Hotel that night I bump into
both Monika Henreid and Margaret O'Brien (Meet Me in St. Louis)


My closing day began by watching a live 2-hour interview with 
Ben Mankiewicz and star Faye Dunaway at the historic Montalban Theatre

Photo below courtesy of Ted Pio Roda for TCM




Final film of the festival for me - and one of the best - 
was Network at the Egyptian Theatre introduced by Ben and Faye



The closing night party is always bittersweet - 
a great celebration, but so hard to say good-bye

Until next year...

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