Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mae West: 40 Lbs of Bling

MAE WEST turned up in a Canadian column devoted to new books on being fabulous and fashionable.
• • Here is what Nathalie Atkinson had to say about a reissued title by Edith Head that discusses costumes designed for Mae West's movie character Lady Lou in "She Done Him Wrong" [Paramount Pictures, 1933].
• • The Dress Doctor: Prescriptions for Style A to Z [Collins Design, 2008]
• • What's in it: Hollywood's most famous costume designer, the late Edith Head, was the winner of eight Academy Awards. The book itself is a gorgeous repackaging of Head's 1959 original bestseller, offering dress directives interspersed with reminiscences of dressing top silver screen names. It's alphabetical: A is for Audrey (as in Hepburn), B is for Bowling, and so on.
• • The good: Redesigned to include Bil Donovan's watercolour illustrations, the layout is innovative: one spread shows a pair of Edith Head heads saying things like: "Designers are inclined to make people look like models. But essentially, a model is anonymous, she's a living form to show off clothes. A person wears clothes to express personality." A great detail? Edith Head designed forty pounds of costume jewellery for Mae West to wear with her skintight costumes — — as Diamond Lil [sic] in "She Done Him Wrong." Mae West needed a reclining board between takes.
• • The bad: Even if the tone and content are often anachronistic (she advocates completely different outfits for each domestic task, such as grocery shopping and housekeeping, so that an average day has at least five wardrobe changes), the icons Head singled out as examples back in 1959 — — Gloria Swanson, Katharine Hepburn, Marlene Dietrich — — still stand up today.
• • Say what? What to wear as.... a dog handler? And to the circus?
• • Words of wisdom: "Don't be afraid to wear a becoming costume many, many times ... The modern approach is to change accessories." Anna Wintour does it, and in these dark economic times, so should we all. Sing it, sister!
• • Grade: A for effort but, alas, C for practicality.
— — Excerpt: — —
• • Article: "Don’t have natural style? Read these!"
• • Byline: Nathalie Atkinson
• • Published in: The National Post — —
• • Published on: Friday, 28 November 2008
• • Come up and see Mae every day online:

• • Photo:
• • Mae West • • 1932
• •

Mae West.

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