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Posts tagged ‘Oscars’

Ready For The Oscars?

By , 23 February, 2012, No Comment

Via Collectors Quest, free DIY Oscar party printables in elegant black and white from Twig & Thistle!

Black Paper Oscar Statuettes

Oscar Party Ballot Printable

Elmer Gantry: A Reason To Get Up In The Morning

By , 31 January, 2012, No Comment

I just discovered that one of my favorite films, Elmer Gantry (1960), will be on TCM today, Tuesday, January 31, 6:00 AM (ET). I’m going to be up to watch it because I haven’t yet purchased the DVD.

Starring Jean Simmons and Burt Lancaster (who won an Oscar for his role as Elmer Gantry), this is a powerful film about faith and fanaticism, foibles and fairness — but above all, it’s character-driven story about human character. It’s the best combination of issues to chew on and characters to consider, long after the film is over.

I love those sorts of stories.

Shirley Jones Seducing Burt Lancaster

In terms of fashion, the spotlight is on Shirley Jones (who also won an Oscar for her role of Lulu Bains) in classic lingerie, most notably visible in the scene in which Lulu attempts to seduce and shame Elmer. (Click the link to watch!)

What may have begun as the vengeful opportunistic act of a lover scorned (deflowered and left to prostitution) is quickly shown to be more complicated, exposing more than unfinished business but unrequited feelings between the two.

It’s brilliant stuff, really. Not what many may expect from the Shirley Jones they remember from The Partridge Family or know from musicals (although I cry every time I see Carousel).

But if you watch Elmer Gantry, this is precisely the sort of thing you learn to refrain from. For Jones’ performance as Lulu (as layered as anyone else’s in the movie), should teach you to look beneath the surface, what you think you know. The perceptions of “who and what Shirley Jones is” that the viewer brings to this classic film is, in this case, a layer of experience that only adds to this film.

Fashion & Film History Lesson: Designer & Costumer Go Head To (Edith) Head

By , 19 February, 2009, 3 Comments

You likely recall the lovely gowns Audrey Hepburn wore in Sabrina; this one in particular is a classic example of the chic “Parisian” look Sabrina returns with — proof of her being “all grown up”.

Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina

Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina

The nipped in waist and voluminous skirting, tell-tale markers of New Look fashions.

Classic New Look Evening Dresses

Classic New Look Evening Dresses

The fashions may be the iconic vintage look many of us call ‘classic’, but the story behind the dresses Audrey wore are lesser-known.

The beautiful strapless white organdy gown, embroidered by hand with black and white flowers, was not the creation of legendary film costumer Edith Head — even though she won the Oscar for it. Rather, it was the work of designer Hubert de Givenchy.

Givenchy was one of the first (if not the first) couture designer to break into film costume design. He was hired to design the creations to illustrate & accentuate the grown-up, sophisticated Sabrina upon her return from Paris. As the story goes, it was Hepburn’s idea to have real couture fashions used in the film; director Billy Wilder agreed. When Givenchy was told that ‘Miss Hepburn’ had arrived to see him, he’d expected Katharine Hepburn:

But when the door of my studio opened, there stood a young woman, very slim, very tall, with doe eyes and short hair and wearing a pair of narrow pants, a little T shirt, slippers and a gondolier’s hat with red ribbon that read VENEZIA. I told her, “Mademoiselle, I would love to help you, but I have very few sewers, I am in the middle of doing a collection, I can’t make you clothes.” So she said, “Show me what you have already made for the collection.” She tried on the dresses–“It’s exactly what I need!”–and they fit her too.

Givenchy also said:

Later I tried to adapt my designs to her desires. She wanted a bare-shouldered evening dress modified to hide the hollows behind her collarbone. What I invented for her eventually became a style so popular that i named it ‘décolleté Sabrina'”

We would come to call it The Hepburn Look.

Audrey Hepburn in Givenchy gown -- with poodles

Audrey Hepburn in Givenchy gown -- with poodles

And so, a style collaboration — and a close friendship — was born.

Givenchy and Hepburn

Givenchy and Hepburn

Edith Head, however, did not care so much for The Hepburn Look — at least not enough to allow shared credits for the costuming on Sabrina. As reining queen of Hollywood costume design, she wielded incredible clout, and her complaints about having to share the credits with Givenchy couldn’t go unnoticed; Paramount & Wilder would need to appease her.

In order to prevent her from quitting the movie, they gave her full screen credits for Costume Designer; and gave not a one to Givenchy. While Head (&/or her team) did create the majority of the costumes, it’s obvious to anyone who has seen the movie that Givenchy’s gowns are the most memorable designs — literally providing the look for the film.

The white organdy gown with floral embroidery is so iconic, that it was one of the dresses recreated for Jennifer Love Hewitt to wear in the 2000 TV movie, The Audrey Hepburn Story.

Jennifer Love Hewitt in The Audrey Hepburn Story

Jennifer Love Hewitt in The Audrey Hepburn Story

Obviously Hepburn & Givenchy went on to become life-long friends — and to create more memorable fashion moments, with Givenchy designing the fashions she wore in daily life and in film.

Hubert de Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn

Hubert de Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn

That alone could have been the “living well is the best revenge” ending. But it’s not.

Edith Head got her comeuppance on Breakfast at Tiffany’s where the closest she and her department got to Holly Golightly’s fashions was to make “some plain clothes and doubles for the Givenchy dresses”. And Givenchy saw to it that she was credited merely as “supervisor” rather than costume designer; it was likely an incredible insult to a costumer of her stature.

One of the three copies of the black sheath dress from the opening scenes of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which sold at Christie’s for $923,187 in 2006, was presumably made by Edith &/or her team. This dress was not used in the film but it is believed, due to the slit, that Givenchy designed this dress for promotional purposes, as the film posters feature the dress with a saucy slit.

Film poster with black dress with slit

Film poster with black dress with slit

Unfortunately, Breakfast at Tiffany’s wasn’t even nominated for an Academy Award; but Audrey in that black dress (and with that wicked cigarette holder) lives on as one of the most memorable images in cinematic and fashion history.

Audrey Hepburn Breakfast At Tiffanys Photos

Audrey Hepburn Breakfast At Tiffanys Photos

Throw A Party To Celebrate The Oscars

By , 9 February, 2009, No Comment

Having an Oscar party? Plum Party has lots of cool party supplies with a Hollywood theme, from paper plates and napkins with the iconic searchlights to vintage style pop corn boxes.

Hollywood Paper Party Supplies

Hollywood Paper Party Supplies

I love these chocolates that look like rolls of film!

Film Canister Chocolates

Film Canister Chocolates

And what diva wouldn’t want these fabulous napkin rings that look like giant diamond rings?

Faux Diamond Ring Napkin Rings

Faux Diamond Ring Napkin Rings

Of course, then you’re going to have to go with cloth napkins — but they have those too. Do you prefer gold or silver?

You can even give out your own golden statues.

Star Awards

Star Awards

To give out awards, you’ll need some games. Here’s a couple of party games from a vintage copy of The Cokesbury Party Book (1932).

The first is a game played by couples at a party — it’s pretty silly, and you divas may not like a messy face, but it’s bound to be fun. It’s called The Make-Up Game:

Choose two or more couples. The boys are given a box which contains a red cord, with which to tie the girl’s hands behind her. The box also contains make-up materials — rouge, lip stick, eyebrow pencil, powder, etc. The boys are told to make up the girls like Mary Pickford, Coleen Moore, Nancy Carroll, or some other popular actresses. Judges pick the winners.

Depending upon your guest list, you may need to update your popular actress list a bit. *wink*

This next ideas are from a themed costume party called a “Celebrities Party”.

We all admire famous people, so for one evening let’s each select a famous American person and dress ourselves like that one and come to a party where there will be nothing except celebrities. Have the guests come dressed as some famous American. It would be well to allow a wide range of choice as to character, permitting the characters to delve into past history as well as present history. The screen, stage, sports of all kinds, aviation, religion, politics, and music should all have their representatives at the gathering.

1. Invitation. — A suggested invitation is given below:

If your name is not in Who’s Who,
You can be great just the same.
Come dressed like a celebrity, any will do,
If he’s in American Hall of Fame.
Come out to Smith’s on Friday night
And act the part you dress.
We’ll live in the past and present both,
And have a good time? — Well, I guess!

It is then suggested that a list of possible celebrities should be sent with the invitation. Celebrities of The Past are listed; these are mainly from political history. Then the Celebrities Of The Present are listed, which includes, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Tom Mix, Charlie Chaplin, Clara Bow, Gloria Swanson, John Barrymore etc. (It is interesting to note that the following: “Inasmuch as there is a shortage of women characters, it might be well to suggest that some of the girls dress as Mrs. Alexander Hamilton, Mrs. Robert E. Lee, Mrs. Abe Lincoln.” For all my “love of vintage,” I am so glad I wasn’t alive in such sexist times!)

An Opening Mixer is suggested, called Who’s Who:

Of course everyone will want to know “Who’s Who.” As each guest enters pin a paper bearing a number on him. Supply each one with a paper and pencil and ask him to write down the numbers and name of the celebrity represented by the guest. After all have had ample time to guess, the leader should read a correct list. As the leader calls the number, the guest should be asked to rise and should be introduced to the others by name of the person represented as well as by the rightful name, so that all will feel that they have been rightfully introduced to each other.

A prize should be given to the person having the longest list of celebrities. A picture of one of our outstanding citizens might be given as a prize.

If the guests do not come in costume, when they have all assembled the leader should seat them and pin on the back of each one the name of a famous American. When all the names have been pinned on, they try to learn who they are by asking questions which must in every case be answered with a “yes” or a “no.” They can ask the question if they like, “Am I president Hoover?” and if answered in the affirmative, they can take off the name and pin it in front, and it is to be worn the rest of the evening.

Next is a game called Impersonation.

Have the impersonation which are given below written on slips of paper and put in a box. The leader draws them out one by one; and if she draws the number seven, she starts counting at the head of the line of guests to seven. The person who is number seven must then do the impersonation indicated. In every case she starts from the same person, counting from that person to the number which is on the slip of paper.

I’ve just selected a few of the 21 listed, to give you an idea.

Betsy Ross making the flag.
Charlie Chaplin making a movie.
Tom Mix on horseback.
Charles Lindbergh making love to Anne Lindbergh.
Clara Bow flirting.

(The Lindbergh one really cracks me up!)

Like the first suggestion, you may need to update as necessary to fit your guests’ knowledge of history & film, and/or to fit the Hollywood theme. But modified or not, it certainly won’t be the same-old Oscar party!