Monday, May 19, 2008

Mae West: Venus de Milo

MAE WEST's measurements inspired both admiration and frustration, reveals a new book on Hollywood's costume design.
• • Hollywood's leading ladies may get the best lines, but their scene-stealing outfits are the ones to watch, explains Bronwyn Cosgrave in The Age.
• • Bronwyn Cosgrave writes: THERE IS A "FIFTH character" in Sex and the City: The Movie
— — the costumes for Carrie Bradshaw and her trio of well-heeled friends, Charlotte York Goldenblatt, Miranda Hobbes and Samantha Jones. Shaping this fifth character required "strategising and finessing and negotiating", akin to wooing an A-list Hollywood star to sign a film deal, says the film's star, Sarah Jessica Parker. . . .
• • By the golden age of the ' 30s, every "big five" studio, including Paramount, MGM and Warner Bros, ran sophisticated wardrobe departments presided over by highly skilled designers. Paramount's Travis Banton cut costumes from the finest textiles, including tweeds from Linton, the knitwear manufacturer in the Scottish Borders used by Chanel. He bought embellishments such as bugle beads and sequins from the Paris supplier that Elsa Schiaparelli patronized, and altered the work of the famed surrealist couturier when in 1937 she was enlisted to design for Mae West for the comedy Every Day's a Holiday. West failed to report to Schiaparelli's Place Vendome atelier and instead sent it a Venus de Milo bust that was meant to replicate her shapely proportions. It didn't quite work out that way — — the statue was evidently a little more modest in size and Schiaparelli's intricate handiwork sat too close on buxom West.
• • Hollywood became a fashion capital as major studios reproduced affordable variations of screen costumes and the most iconic became department-store bestsellers. They included a fluffy Gilbert Adrian gown Joan Crawford modelled in 1932's Letty Lynton, Walter Plunkett's Vivien Leigh antebellum-inspired frocks from 1939 blockbuster Gone with the Wind and a strapless Edith Head number Elizabeth Taylor displayed in A Place in the Sun from 1951.
• • Dressed: A Century of Hollywood Costume Design, Deborah Nadoolman Landis' recently published coffee-table tome, presents myriad Hollywood looks that have influenced generations of fashion designers and movie goers over time, including the body-hugging, strapless satin gown Columbia's Jean Louis created to enhance curvaceous Rita Hayworth's seductive number in Gilda, Taylor's bejewelled decadence and Grace Kelly's glacial glamour, as well as Theadora Van Runkle's late-'60s handiwork for Faye Dunaway. . . .
— — Excerpt: — —
• • Article: A star is worn
• • Written by: Bronwyn Cosgrave
• • Published in: The Age — —
• • Published on: 17 May 2008
• • Come up and see Mae every day online:

• • Photo:
• • Mae West • •
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Mae West.

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