Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cinema Style File--Doris Day Dons Norman Norell in 1962's THAT TOUCH OF MINK

One of the missions of GlamAmor is to bring attention to the amount of cross over that exists between costume design in film and fashion. Since the days of Old Hollywood, inspiration has most often come from the movies to influence a trend in mainstream fashion. An example of this would be Adrian's bias-cut gowns for Jean Harlow in the 1930s (not to mention her platinum blonde hair). Some designs were such a hit that stores would simply copy costumes from the movies. Such was the case with Helen Rose's designs for Elizabeth Taylor in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and BUtterfield 8 - both led to their iconic dresses being duplicated in the stores so that all women could wear them.

Sometimes, though, fashion designers were drawn to the film industry. Examples include Hubert de Givenchy's designs for Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's or Pierre Balmain's designs for Brigitte Bardot in ...And God Created Woman. And here in That Touch of Mink, we have American designer Norman Norell creating the wardrobe for Doris Day.

Norell was a gifted designer of the highest order. His career stretched from the 1920s to the 1970s and was central to the evolution of American fashion. Known for his glamour, he studied fashion design at Parsons School of Design and then segued into creating costumes for silent film stars like Gloria Swanson and Valentino at Paramount's studios in New York. He also designed for the Ziegfeld Follies and stage shows at the Cotton Club. In 1928, he began at the the prestigious Hattie Carnegie couturier. For over a decade, he would work alongside other designers who would also work in film, such as Jean Louis and Pauline Trigère. And afterward, like many others, Norell started his own fashion line. He was a visionary - his 1946 collection, with its longer skirts and nipped in waists, pre-dated the "New Look" from Christian Dior that caused a seismic shift in both fashion and film the following year.  

Known for the quality of his construction, Norell would create collections that rivaled French couturiers. When he passed away in 1972, headlines pronounced that he had "made 7th Avenue the Rival of Paris." For these reasons, his dresses are still highly valued and quite fashionable today. In fact, First Lady Michelle Obama wore vintage Norell to one of the White House Christmas parties. Clearly she appreciated the timelessness of his designs, which is what made him such a perfect fit for Doris Day in That Touch of Mink.

Though this movie boasts both Doris and Cary Grant - both style icons - I watch Mink for Norman Norell. I would have loved to see a bit more color in the costumes overall, but Doris' slinky black gown and the movie's fashion show, including one of Norell's famous sequined mermaid gowns, more than make up for it. Also one can enjoy the delicious details in his designs, like leather and fur, throughout. It's just that perfect touch, of course. 

Movie starts with Philip Shayne (Cary Grant) making a real splash with Cathy Timberlake (Doris Day)

Recovering from the Rolls Royce run in, Cathy heads to the unemployment office 
and lunch in her black leather-trimmed cream coat and leather gloves

Angry, Cathy tells her friend (Audrey Meadows) about her morning and 
then decides to head to Philip's office to give him a piece of her mind

One look at Cary Grant would make any woman forget her troubles
and Doris Day's expression proves she is no exception

Cathy finds herself agreeing to a date that instant with Philip

A cream belted boatneck sheath dress is under Cathy's matching neck-tie jacket

Cathy gets a proposal, but not quite the one she wants -
an invitation to Bermuda for a little fun in the sun

 Cathy originally chooses a black longsleeve fit and flare dress with peter pan collar for Bermuda -
that is, until a personal shopper from Bergdorf Goodman whisks her away for a private fashion show

Let the Norman Norell fashion show begin...

One of my favorites is a black column with fur-trimmed stole and gloves

Quintessential Norell and a dream dress or me -
an emerald sequined mermaid gown with a plunging back

More quintessential Norell - a mink lined silk coat

Cathy nearly cries with joy seeing the coat 
and chooses a cream version as her own for her trip

PanAm flight from New York to Bermuda

Philip buys out the entire flight just for Cathy

Mink coat + Bermuda + Cary Grant = Heaven

Taking Cathy to their room

Unmarried Cathy starts to be paranoid that everyone knows what they're up to

Doris in my favorite dress of the movie - look at that back!

Virginal Cathy gets more than a little over anxious at Philip's expectations

So much for romance

Cathy books a flight back to Bermuda, and calls Philip to try again
while drinking a little (too much) liquid courage

Now the scheming begins to get Philip as more than just a lover -
pretending to go off with another man

Philip finally catches up with Cathy in her cute red suit (and butterfly brooch)

Now married, Philip reacts to the good news from the doctor

Of course the family lives happily ever after


Fabio Arciniegas A. said...

Excellent blog. Keep up the good work

Kimberly Truhler said...

Thank you so much, Fabio! It's nice to meet you and I really appreciate the compliment. :)

Melissa Clark said...

We are such kindred spirits, Kimberly! I love Norman Norell, too. Owning one of his dresses or suits is on my vintage fashion wish list. His clothes were just impeccable and had such understated elegance. No wonder he had clients like Babe Paley and Jacqueline Kennedy flocking to him.

As much as I worship both Doris Day and Cary Grant, "That Touch of Mink" is far from my favorite of either of their movies. They just don't have a lot of chemistry, in my opinion. Still, there are some funny moments. Doris Day playing drunk always cracks me up. The bottle on her toe!

And of course there are the clothes. I'm a sucker for any old movie that stops everything for a fashion show. :) Doris's black evening gown is my favorite, too. The back is daring and sexy, but totally tasteful at the same time. I also love the cute butterfly brooch on her red suit. My eye is always drawn to a brooch!

I really like the scene in the automat. Automats are one of the old-timey things I see in old movies and always wish would come back. They look like such fun.

On another topic, I read this in the December issue of Vogue:

Coming Soon: The Vogue Archives
Every issue, every page, and every photo from the magazine will be online in its original context -- from 1892 to the present. Learn more at

You may have already heard about that, but I thought I'd mention it. Very exciting! I can't wait to pore over every issue from the 1940s to 1960s.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Kimberly Truhler said...

We ARE kindred spirits indeed, Melissa! I completely agree with everything you've said. It's not a favorite movie of mine by any means except for the fact that we have this rare glimpse at a Norman Norell wardrobe...AND it's on Doris Day. :) I adore automats, was all I could do to not post even more shots of that scene. Love her back and forth there with Audrey. And I knew you'd love that brooch! I thought of you and Kay when I posted that pic since you're both mad for brooches. :)

Thanks for the news about the VOGUE archives as well! I had NOT heard about it, so now I join in your excitement. WOW. Now that will be something to see. Good for them for making such great use of technology. Can't wait to hear your favorites from it.

Happy Thanksgiving to you as well!


Marline said...

Well, I'm back from my Thanksgiving jaunt to VA and so happy to see this charming post! Frankly, my FAVORITE part of this movie is the truly repulsively creepy part John Astin plays as Cathy's "suitor" IS him, right? His leering kisser is PERFECTION for the part. Yes, I love the mink and the Norell, but Astin makes me howl as the repugnant Beasley. Yurk! I really love the fashion show, too, Kimberly,...that's prime. And thanks for thinking of me with the brooches. I was in Fredericksburg, VA, home to a shopping street of antiques and vintage items such as is rarely seen. Oh, it was heavenly window shopping, but with Carole Tannenbaum coming to town in one week, I didn't dare drop as much as a dime on vintage. Talk about temptation! Thanks, as always for these wonderful screen caps. Sure, Cary sleepwalked thru this one, but Doris's expression during the fashion show are adorable. Hugs, Kay

Kimberly Truhler said...

Welcome back, Kay! Glad to hear you had such a lovely holiday. And that you resisted such temptation! lol

Yes, John Astin was indeed in the film and he is a lot of fun to watch. The back and forth with Doris--even on the phone--is too funny. Hey, did you hear that Doris has released a new album? She's actually going to be on Good Morning America this Wednesday for a rare interview to promote it, too. I'll be watching...can't wait to hear how she's been doing!

Tonya said...

This is indeed one of my favorites movies! Watching Miss Timberlake's reaction when she kisses Mr. Shane (as I believe he's still called at the time!) is a riot. She's completely bowled over. John Astin's line about the nuts in the road at the end has become a catchphrase of my own. Gig Young has some awesome moments. And nothing tickles me more than that scotch bottle on her TOE!

However, you also gave me the courage to admit that one night as I sat watching this, I wept at the fashion show. :) The gowns are stunning and the accompanying music... I was overcome for some reason. Norrell presented sheer classic elegance there. It's my favorite style.

Kimberly Truhler said...

Thanks for your comments, Tonya! This movie does have charming moments, often thanks to the great John Astin. And for fashion? Forget about it. It's no wonder that you wept at the fashion show in the movie...I think Doris did, too. ;)

Anonymous said...

This movie has some of my favourite fashions in any film, especially Audrey Meadows' blue & green plaid number. Not a bad ensemble for an automat waitress....

Kimberly Truhler said...

Yes! Audrey Meadows' wardrobe is another to watch in this film. There's just so much to look at thanks to great costume and production design. :)

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