Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Style Essentials--Doris Day Makes a Statement in Jean Louis for 1959's PILLOW TALK

1959's Pillow Talk is one of the most influential movies to me from the standpoint of style.  For those who know me well, this will come as no surprise as you scroll through the images below.  The sophisticated costumes were designed by the great Jean Louis, who many know for Rita Hayworth's glamorous wardrobe in Gilda (1946) with its iconic black strapless "Put the Blame on Mame" gown.  He is also known for another iconic gown--the nude shimmering stunner that Marilyn Monroe was sewn into to sing "Happy Birthday" to President Kennedy at Madison Square Garden.  His extensive experience in couture--from Drecol to Hattie Carnegie--was evident in every one of his designs.

Louis' Pillow Talk wardrobe is just as sexy, but it's demonstrated and delivered in a different way.  Doris Day plays interior designer Jan Morrow, a career gal who proves that a work wardrobe need not suffer in the style department.  As she does in every one of her movies, Doris carries off each costume with the grace of a runway model and the body of an athlete.  Her seemingly innocent persona often obscures just how sexy she was, but this wardrobe reminds us again and again...nearly every outfit shows off her fantastic figure.  Though less overt in its sexuality, much like the wardrobe of a Hitchcock Heroine, you can sense it simmering just beneath the surface.

The costumes for Pillow Talk are reminiscent of those by Helen Rose, who was head costume designer at MGM while Jean was at Columbia and then Universal.  There are similarities in their bold color combinations, which is one of the reasons I turn to this movie again and again.  In a couple cases, colors come from the statement jewelry from Laykin that Louis integrates into each of the outfits.  He also incorporates luxurious fabrics like fur to evoke a little elegance...coats, capelets, hats, and hand warmers all appear as accessories to the outfits.  And all of Doris' dresses are fit to perfection.  The sex appeal of the garments exists largely because of their tailoring and body conscious silhouettes.  Watching her walk around, it's easy to understand why the 50s and 60s  "wiggle" dress was cited as the sexiest dress by several fashion magazines yet again this year. 

These classic clothes are timeless.  Doris' statement coats in their rich colors and textures and the overall ladylike dressing shown in Pillow Talk may be on trend this Fall and Winter, but these are looks that will always be in style.  It's a wardrobe that has continued to inspire fashion designers over the years.  One is Michael Kors, who cited this movie as an influence when he and other designers were invited to be Guest Programmers on Turner Classic Movies. For this and many other reasons, Pillow Talk was chosen as one of The Style Essentials here on GlamAmor.

November 2011 was a month of the "Battle of the Blondes" on TCM and of course Doris was included in that luminous list.  Unfortunately, Pillow Talk was not among the movies highlighted, so I include it here because it is quintessential Doris Day style.  This was the first teaming of Doris with perfect partner and good friend Rock Hudson, and they really set a standard for romantic comedies with this picture.  I believe that the chemistry of the two together and their onscreen style were never better than they were in Pillow Talk.  Take a look for yourself.

Doris (Jan) makes her entrance in a black coat with a mandarin collar 
accessorized with both a black fur hat and hand warmer

Jan's navy "suit," a sheath dress topped with a cropped boxy coat,
taught me that black and blue are indeed colors that can be paired together

This belted cream wiggle dress paired with red accessories is one of my personal favorites

Look at the divine red silk lining of her matching cream coat--
a detail referenced by Michael Kors in one of his earlier collections

All buttoned up, Jan even coordinates a red tote (below left) with her outfit

Jan attends the party of one of her wealthy clients in this 
white column gown, white fur shrug, and opera length gloves

Jan reluctantly agrees to a dance with her client's college-age son,
not realizing that her party line foe (Rock Hudson) is just behind her

Brad Allen (Rock Hudson) sees and meets Jan for the first time at this club

Adversarial on the phone, Brad must pretend to be someone else in order to see Jan again

A perfect end to Jan's evening--the promise of another date with Brad aka "Tex"

Another favorite color combination that I learned from this movie--
emerald green coat and gown accessorized with turquoise jewelry

Out on the town

Another clever use of the split screen in Pillow Talk

Even Jean Louis' robes for Jan are regal

Lessons in tone on tone--green longsleeve sweater paired with a darker high-waisted wool skirt
and hat along with a mink handwarmer

Plans for another evening out, this time in a burgundy velvet coat and dress

Brad's scheme has been found out by his best friend Jonathan (Tony Randall),
so he arranges to take Jan to his place in Connecticut

Passion by fire light

Jan celebrates being in love in a cozy cream belted knit dress

When Brad goes out for more firewood, Jan gets more than just a chill...
she discovers his true identity by playing one of his songs

Furious, Jan throws on her own fur trimmed coat and heads heartbroken for home in the city

In a rage, Jan looks incredible in red accessorized with a leopard hat and hand warmer

Jan's revenge?  To redecorate Brad's apartment the worst way she knows how

She's all business in a black velvet suit trimmed in satin and
accessorized with a brooch at her waist

Brad somehow manages to see how much Jan really loves him by his "redecorated" apartment,
and carries her back to the scene of the crime

Of course what Jan has really managed to makeover is this confirmed bachelor
and they live happily ever after


Kay said...

Shall we both sing together.."You are my inspiration, Doris"? I ADOR-(is) this movie, too! I sing Ya Ya Roly-Poly for DAYS after I see it. I simply can't get enough of the color combos...and those colorful jewelry sets. And the muffs! Yikes! It's mid-century perfection. What did you think of the Rene Z update spoof? And did you know that Doris was considered to have the sexiest bottom on Hollywood? Who knew? Well, anyone who's ever seen Pillow Talk! Thanks for these wonderful screen caps. They bring it all back, Kimberly. Beautifully written and shared.
Love, Kay

MC said...

I've seen Pillow Talk more times than I can count, and Doris Day's wardrobe is one of the big reasons why. Everything she wears is perfection! The colors, the accessories, the jewels -- all so inspiring. Her parade of coats is especially exciting to me. Total dream wardrobe.

Plus, the movie itself is so much fun. I still giggle every time, in spite of knowing each scene and bit of dialogue by heart. Thanks for a wonderful post. I watched Pillow Talk again this weekend, after reading it.

Kimberly said...

What lovely comments--thank you both! I can see that we're all great fans of both the movie and its wonderful wardrobe. It really doesn't get much better than this, does it? As both of you said, "perfection" and "dream". Absolutely. And seriously, I could wear every item of clothing and the accompanying accessories from this movie TODAY and not only be on trend but the most stylish person in the room. Loved putting together this post so that we can all continue to refer back to all the fun from PILLOW TALK. Thanks for loving it as much as I do. :)

Jennifer LaFortune said...

Oh, my gosh, I *love* that someone else gushes over the clothes in this movie as much as I do. I saw it for the first time (of many) probably 20 years ago, and have always bemoaned the fact that I don't have a personal tailor to build me such exceptional clothing. The screen shots here really are beautiful. Lovely work.

Kimberly Truhler said...

Well, you've come to the right place to gush over clothes like these, Jennifer--welcome! They're just soooo stunning and timeless, aren't they? I agree...I think each of us should have a personal tailor (like Jean Louis lol) to craft us wardrobes like this.

In many ways, I try to do this with my choices for the GlamAmor Vintage collection. Since I can't have a personal tailor, I'll do the next best thing and find clothes that were created (so well!) back then. That way I get the vibrant colors, the great tailoring, and quality that not only has lived for the past 50 years but continues to outlive much of my brand new clothing. And timeless, not trendy.

Again, welcome to GA and feel free to gush away whenever you'd like!

Anonymous said...

Kimberly, somehow I missed this article on the fabulous Jean Louis clothes for Miss Doris Day in Pillow Talk! I love it, thank you for all the wonderful details about these clothes. Another inspired piece that brings these designs to light! Now I have to watch the movie again to rediscover the beautiful clothes. Jean was such a talented designer and a dear, dear man. He loved dressing Doris Day, said she had the perfect figure, well, no doubt! :-) Thank you! Linda Lewis

Kimberly Truhler said...

Thank you, Linda! LOVE hearing that Jean thought so well of Doris and her figure. His designs for her in PILLOW TALK are sublime. It made an enormous impression on me and informing my own design aesthetic. My vintage for GlamAmor is a testament to that. If I could choose one film wardrobe, the one for PILLOW TALK would be in contention for the top. Happy to share the great fashion with everyone!

Laura Cyborski said...

Where can I get a coat like the one Rock Hudson wears to the cabin…..the one that Doris wraps herself in….the black and white one…..can you direct me to someone? I've been looking for years!
Love, Laura

Laura Cyborski said...

Where can I get a coat like the one Rock Hudson wore on the way to the cabin in Pillow Talk….the one Doris wraps herself up in..the black and white one….can you direct me to someone…..I've been looking for years!
Love, Laura

Kimberly Truhler said...

Hi Laura! It's great that you love Rock's black and white coat so much. Unfortunately, I don't really know where you can find an identical one, though if you're interested in vintage then Etsy is a great place to start. You can search on very specific details like era and color. Good luck!

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