On Monday evening, I was honored with the opportunity to present The Style Essentials: History of Fashion in Film 1920s-1930s at the Annenberg Beach House. What a thrill. The Style Essentials represent the most iconic costume design in the movies that continues to influence fashion today, so the venue could not have been more perfect. This is the former beachfront estate of screen star Marion Davies, who was at her peak during the 1920s and 1930s and the social center of of Old Hollywood. The Beach House is where everyone in Hollywood stayed or played...from the studio heads to the cast to the crew. Some of the stars included Greta Garbo and John Gilbert, Carole Lombard and Clark Gable, Joan Crawford and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., and the list goes on. You can learn all about the history of the Beach House and Marion's career in an Out & About video I did there last year.
The History of Fashion in Film 1920s-1930s is the first part of a much larger presentation I first did at FIDM at the end of the summer and has expanded into a class I will be teaching at Woodbury University this January. There are 50 movies from the 1920s to the 1970s that are the best of the best, and Monday I started with style icons from the beginning of film through the glamorous age of Art Deco. Stills from the movies along with images from the fashion runways accompanied my discussion of the costumes, costume and fashion designers, stars, and film backstories. And to show just how much style in the movies influenced style at the time, my friends from Clever Vintage Clothing came all the way from Santa Barbara to bring the event gorgeous gowns from the 1920s and 1930s.
It was an incredible evening. The spirit of Marion was with us and blessed the night with incredible weather--barely a breath of the wind on the ocean--and a stunning sunset you can see in the photographs. Adding to the excitement was the fact that every one of the stars making up The Style Essentials from this early era spent time right where we were at the Beach House. I mean, Marlene Dietrich even lived in the Guest House (below) when she first moved to America. The event was filled with an enthusiastic and appreciative audience who ranged from fashionistas to vintage experts to classic cinema fans. This included people of all ages--from their 20s to their 80s--so questions at the end were interesting and stories wonderful. This included a gal who was friends with Christina Crawford as a child and loved to play dress up in Joan Crawford's closet. Except the time when Joan unexpectedly came home early after a hard day at the studio. Mommie Dearest indeed.
I ended the presentation with a celebration of Marion's life, career, and style...including her ongoing influence in fashion. I loved having the opportunity to showcase what a great an actress she was...working with the best directors, actors (hello, Clark Gable and Gary Cooper), and costume designers like Adrian and Orry-Kelly. Everyone in the audience expressed their love for the presentation and immediately asked when I would be back with the next part of The Style Essentials--the 1940s-1950s. Naomi from the Annenberg Beach House was such a great host and really knowledgeable about design...she loved the talk, too, so we may indeed be invited back. Stay tuned and thanks to everyone for coming!
The original Guest House (above and below right) is where many stars stayed...
Marlene Dietrich is one who even lived there when she first moved to Los Angeles
The front and back of the original 100+ room Beach House mansion
The facade of the new Beach House honors and echos the architecture of the original
My talk was in the glass-walled event space (upper left, under the orange roof),
which was right between the Guest House and the original pool
My view of the sunset from the Neutra-esque space as I set up...
Welcoming attendees in a 1950s belted yellow silk shirtdress and purple suede peeptoe pumps
Night finally falls and the event begins
I gave the presentation alongside examples of gorgeous gowns from the 1920s and 1930s
courtesy of Clever Vintage Clothing
One moment of the 1920s Style Essentials includes Clara Bow in It (1927)
Clara's little black dress from Travis Banton (on the heels of Chanel's iconic 1926 LBD)
goes from longsleeve for work to sleeveless for her big date
Michelle Obama in Azzedine Alaia for the NATO summit
is one example of the ongoing influence of Clara Bow in It
The packed house included everyone from fashionistas to vintage vendors--
to classic cinema fans like Hollywood Legacy's Lana Morgan
Thanks to everyone for coming and I can't wait until next time!