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Costume design; did Hollywood lead, or follow?


overeasy
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I was watching a tape of "The Match King" tonight when the female lead walked in with this silly/dazzling coat which had fur down by her calfs. It made me wonder; "Was the costume designer picking up cues from Paris, Milan and NY, or were they driving the design with outrageous ideas....?"

 

So, I put the query out to my TCM friends. How much of what we saw on-screen during the glory dayss of the 30s-40s was a retread of the couture from major designers and how much was a Hollywood driven concept?

 

Cheers!

 

Ron

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This is a complicated answer, with it varying oer the decades. In general it was a two-way street most of the time. At least since the 20s, the "gods and goddesses" of the screen were very influential fashionwise. In the 30s, the unattainable onscreen fantasy was coveted by audiences struggling to make a living. It was during this decade that this influence was made tangible. Girls copied hairstyles and makeup of their favorites, and tried to re-create theclluloid fashion shows seen at the movies. 1932 was the year that the "Letty Lynton" dress design was mass-marketed to great success. Many more tie-ins followed. 1934 saw the sale of mens' tshirts take a nose dive when Clark Gable wore none in IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT.

 

Yet Hollywood designers tried to keep abreast of Paris fashions (Milan did not become a player untll much later; NYC was seen as following theParis lead). They dreaded a sudden shift in fashions, since they often had to design nearly a year before the outfits would be seen on screens. They were caught off guard with the drop in skirt lenhgts at theend of 1929; most Hollywood movies of 1930 loked dated stylewise. Likewise wih he NewLook of 1947; Hollywood didn't reflect this untl the following yearf.

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Good topic for study.

 

I'll say. There are some books on the subject, but the ones I found are pictorial, with no exhaustive research done on the topic.

 

My query has always been on the hierarcy of costume designers in Hollywood. I've noted Renie and Adrian and Edith Head (blech) and of course my god, Orry-Kelly.

 

Is there a definitive study of all those lesser known names who so loyally worked to clothe the 'B' and 'programmer' movie stars, as well as assist the big shots like Edith Head (blech)?

 

If not, feel free to write and not give me credit for the idea. :)

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