Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Cinema Connection--1940s and 1950s Cinema Style Rules the Red Carpet at 2014 Oscars


Sunday was the 86th annual Academy Awards and there were a record number of people watching this year's show.  Of course there were likely even more enjoying the red carpet beforehand, with coverage coming from television channels all over the world.  As always, I hope the audience was able to see just how much classic cinema acted as inspiration for many of the gowns that graced the presenters, nominees, and soon-to-be winners.

More than those winners, what we largely talk about afterward are the trends that emerged on the red carpet.  Some are strong, some are subtle.  Sometimes it's a silhouette.  Sometimes it's a color--this year, whites, nudes (often with shimmer and sequins), and pale metallics were very popular.  Kate Hudson, Naomi Watts, Cate Blanchett, Julie Delpy, Sally Hawkins, Sarah Paulsen, Jessica Biel, Kristen Bell, and Jennifer Garner all tapped into this trend with their ensembles.  Sometimes red carpet trends simply reflect what's "in" fashion--not a surprise since these gowns generally come from the most recent runways.  In many ways, though, the red carpets of award season become their own runway.  And the bigger the show, the more style seems to revert back to what is frequently referred to as "Old Hollywood glamour." 

"Old Hollywood glamour" does not always mean the same thing.  The Golden Age of Hollywood stretches from the late 1920s to the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, and much of the 1960s.  Obviously, that encompasses a lot of different style.  When The Artist swept much of the awards at the 2012 Oscars, many gowns had an Art Deco feel a la the 1920s and 1930s.  That also happened to be a strong trend in fashion at the time, which started with the influence of The Artist itself and didn't end until Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby premiered.  Then that same year, at the 2012 Golden Globes, gowns took much of their inspiration from film noir of the 1940s.  Costumes from The Killers, The Postman Always Rings Twice, and Gilda were just some of what influenced the design of dresses on the red carpet. 

This year, the 1940s were popular once again.  There's usually at least one gown that owes something to Rita Hayworth in Gilda (1946) on any red carpet, and this year's Oscar nominee (and past Oscar winner) Sandra Bullock came closest with her Alexander McQueen.  Many of the hair styles, including Sandra's, also played homage to Rita and Veronica Lake with their long loose waves.  The 1950s made a strong style statement, too, with references to that era's icons Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, and Marilyn Monroe.  This is just the beginning.

What was impressive this year was that there were far fewer dresses that took directly from the costumes of classic cinema, but rather took inspiration from different design elements.  The gown for Lupita Nyong'o, for example, seemed like a combination of Grace Kelly's ice blue chiffon in To Catch a Thief (1955) and Elizabeth Taylor's white chiffon in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958).  The gowns for Kate Hudson and Julie Delpy were very different, but both seemed to make some reference to Marilyn Monroe's gold gown in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) and even a little nod to Bette Davis in Now, Voyager (1942).  Without question, the gown for Angelina Jolie took its lead from the many illusion gowns of Marlene Dietrich. And the gown for Charlize Theron reminded me of a couple great looks from Ava Gardner, but also made me think of John Singer Sargent's late 19th century painting Madame X (one of my favorites).  Of course there were many more references to classics at the 2014 Oscars, and all show just how much iconic costume design continues to impact the way we dress.  This is only part of our ongoing conversation.  

Cheers!


Charlize Theron in DIOR


Madame X by John Singer Sargent in the late 1800s
and Ava Gardner in the 1940s



The illusion straps on Charlize's Dior made me think of this neckline on
Ava Gardner in Helen Rose for 1954's The Barefoot Contessa



Sandra Bullock in ALEXANDER MCQUEEN


Rita Hayworth in Jean Louis for 1946's Gilda
and her signature side-swept hair



Kate Hudson in VERSACE
and Julie Delpy in JENNY PACKHAM



Marilyn Monroe in Travilla for 1953's Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
and Bette Davis in Orry-Kelly for 1942's Now, Voyager



Lupita Nyong'o in PRADA


Grace Kelly in Edith Head for 1955's To Catch a Thief
and Elizabeth Taylor in Helen Rose in 1958's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof



Angelina Jolie (with Brad Pitt) in ELIE SAAB 


Marlene Dietrich in Irene during 1945 USO tour--same gown also used in 1948's A Foreign Affair--
and in Jean Louis for her 1950s Las Vegas show


Thanks to Getty for red carpet images

10 comments:

Kay said...

Loved this and totally agree with almost every pick! I thought Kate Hudson's deep plunge dress was more a Kay Francis moment (see my FB images), but wow, so much Marlene Dietrich illusion on board this year. Were you overall impressed with the gowns or did they leave you as unimpressed as many other viewers? Love, K

Phyl said...

Another excellent post, Kimberly! My personal fave of this year's Oscar group is Lupita in her pale blue gown. And nice catch on the John Singer Sargent ref. to Charize's gown.

RE: Marlene Dietrich - back in the early 1950s when my Mom was in her early twenties and living in NYC, she and a friend went to see a Broadway show and Dietrich was in the audience, down front, dressed to the nines (of course). During the intermission, Dietrich got up and traipsed down the aisle, casually trailing her fur coat behind her, every inch the superstar that she was. Just love the thought of that image...

Christian Esquevin said...

Yes Kimberly, they can never stray far from old Hollywood glamour. The look was invented and perfected there. There were several great gowns,but my favorite was the Dior that Charlize Theron wore. It was a great choice for her and perfectly fitted.

Silver Screenings said...

I admired many of the gowns this year and wondered what classic movies may have inspired them. Thanks to your blog, I could tell the influences of a couple of gowns! Hooray!

Kimberly Truhler said...

Thanks Kay! I thought of Kay Francis because of the plunge, but the fabric and fit of the gown is much more in the realm of Marilyn, in my opinion. Kay's gowns were more that draping bias cut silk (or velvet or whatever) whereas Kate's gowns had such intricate construction it was practically supporting her figure. But I definitely know where you're coming from with the Kay reference. She's there, too. :)

I was impressed overall--there were several that I would have chosen for myself. I'm more a minimalist, too, so less is more with me. Thanks for your comments!

Kimberly Truhler said...

Thanks Phyl! Lupita was absolutely stunning--a definite favorite of many in fashion. I would love to steal her Prada from the Oscars or Ralph Lauren from the Golden Globes!

And I LOVED your Marlene story--thank you for sharing! What an image of her sweeping down the aisle. What a moment. What an image.

Kimberly Truhler said...

Thanks Christian! Yes, Charlize's Dior was exceptional. I heard some fashion folks object to the squared off black areas at the top of the bodice (where they meet the illusion straps), which I understand but it hardly takes away from the gorgeousness of the gown. Her gown and Lupita's probably tied for my favorite along with Kate Hudson's, too.

Kimberly Truhler said...

Thanks Ruth! I'm happy to hear that you're observing some Cinema Connections of your own due to the time you're spending on GlamAmor. ;) It was a great year at the Oscars for these glamorous gowns.

The Lady Eve said...

The cinema connection that hit me between the eyes the moment I glimpsed her was Angelina Jolie - a la Dietrich in that illusion gown.

I tend to agree with the fashion folks you mention in that I didn't particularly care for the squared off sections of the bodice on Charlize Theron's Dior. I loved everything about the gown but the strap/bodice concept.

Charlize and Angelina are gorgeous and do glamour beautifully - almost naturally. Others seemed "over-styled" to me - not quite up to the glamorous gowns they wore.

I loved Emma Watson's look and I'm wondering what if any cinema connections you noticed in her style. A bit of Audrey, maybe?

Kimberly Truhler said...

Thanks Patty! I agree with your comments. Some women are just better suited to gowns of this nature. Confidence is a real asset when you're trying to carry off an Oscar gown. It's like some men--from classic cinema, Cary Grant quickly comes to mind--who carry off a suit as if they're wearing casual clothes whereas some men look extremely uncomfortable and very styled.

Regarding Emma Watson, most were very disappointed with her look as it seemed too casual for the Academy Awards and she's known for very fashion forward looks (see her ensemble for the Golden Globes as a contrast). It's definitely something I could see Audrey in because it was classic and almost the silhouette of the BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S gown (at least from the front lol).

So glad to hear you're seeing such strong Cinema Connections!

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