Apr 12, 2016

#59 - Dateline Paperdollywood - Hollywood Museum, Around the World in 80 Days, Belle Epoque, Marc Jacobs, Harper's Bazaar, New Book News

Hooray for Hollywood!

The Hollywood Museum is not new. Housed in the Max Factor building just off Hollywood Boulevard, it has been a tourist attraction for years. I recently revisited it and spent several happy hours gazing at star-connected memorabilia and costumes. The Art Deco ground floor is divided into “beauty salons” where the fabled make-up innovator himself turned pretty nobodies into legendary beauties. Each of the three salons is devoted to a hair-color. The blonde room features Marilyn Monroe memorabilia including the black sheath dress she wore when she cut short her honeymoon with Joe Dimaggio to entertain the troops in Korea. The redhead salon is devoted to Lucille Ball and Rita Hayworth. A brunette salon spotlights Elizabeth Taylor. There are displays of cosmetics, of course, and personal make-up cases, including Monroe’s and Garbo’s. A small screening room plays a fascinating documentary about genius Max Factor’s life and work, explaining how he influenced American women to embrace make-up that had been deemed scandalous before Hollywood stars became role models. It explains how the Polish immigrant fled Russia where he worked for the Romanoffs, came to America and moved to Hollywood where he invented cosmetics as cinematography became more and more sophisticated and demanding. First there was flexible grease paint, then came pancake to correct skin tones for Technicolor, waterproof make-up and the first solid lipsticks. Factor created false lashes for Garbo, platinum hair for Harlow and the “smear” mouth for Crawford. Not every Factor idea was successful. A scary calibrated “cage” was designed to measure a star’s features and reveal correctible flaws. 

The museum has a sizeable display of Science Fiction posters, costumes and props. The basement of the century-old building houses a collection of horror movie memorabilia that didn’t interest me as much as the second and third floors which are jammed with glamorous displays. 

I liked seeing Margaret O’Brien’s miniature Oscar presented to her in 1944. Oddly, Roddy MacDowell’s rose-fixtured bathroom is there, intact…the walls covered with star photos autographed to Roddy. The museum’s current exhibition pays tribute to the Awards season with scores of costumes including a collection of mad millinery worn by Helen Mirren as Hedda Hopper in “Trumbo.” Television costumes are well represented and include not only current productions, but memorable fashions from “Dynasty” and “LaVerne and Shirley” as well as outrageous outfits worn by Liberace and Phyllis Diller. 

 For me, the real treasures are from Hollywood’s Golden Age…Judy Garland’s ruby slippers, Jean Harlow’s evening gown, Joan Crawford’s handbag and sunglasses…and most glamorous of all, Cary Grant’s 1965 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud deluxe automobile. The entire museum is wallpapered with rare posters, priceless autographs, over 1,000 photos and scores of movie star make-up magazine advertising tearsheets that underscore Max Factor’s important contributions to the art of motion pictures. 

Judy’s ruby slippers, Cary Grant’s Rolls Royce

Hedda-style hats, Marilyn’s dressing table 

Me in the blonde salon, Marilyn’s dress, Margaret’s Mini-Oscar

Dynasty dressing, Roddy’s powder room, Jean Harlow’s gown

Starting my trip Around the World in 80 Days

“Around the World with Paper Dolls” is the theme for the upcoming 2016 Paper Doll Convention to be held in Phoenix, Arizona June 22-26. Chaired by Jane Alfano Rasor, it promises to be a fun time for collectors and artists. I’m working on a paper doll book that will be distributed in conjunction with the presentation I’ll be giving on Sunday morning. In keeping with the convention theme, I’ll be telling the tale of the extraordinary 1956 Oscar-winning film produced by Michael Todd. I’ve just completed work on a souvenir book featuring stars of the film: David Niven, Cantinflas, Shirley MacLaine and Robert Newton. To add a bit of glamour, I’m including one of the many “cameo” stars, Marlene Dietrich. I hope you’ll be there in Phoenix, but if not, you can still get all the super souvenirs if you order the absentee package for $100 (US residents). Make checks payable to 2016 Paper Doll Convention and send to Convention Host Jane Alfano Rasor, 1949 E Morgan Drive, Tempe AZ 85284-8022. Absentee Registrations are limited so order by May 31, 2016! For more info click here for the 2016 Convention Souvenir Flyer, or contact Jane Alfano Rasor at 480-838-5717 or email Jane.Alfano@Rasor.org

David Niven as Phileas Fogg and Cantinflas as Jean Passepartout 

Shirley MacLaine as Princess Aouda, Marlene Dietrich as the Saloon Hostess, Robert Newton as Inspector Fix  

Beautiful Fans from the Belle Epoque

These days, fans are functional coolers, but in the past they were objects of exquisite ingenuity. Fans peaked in artistry during the turn of the century Belle Epoque era. The craftsmanship of that decorative period is evident as one closely inspects the miniscule detail, always aware that a fan is engineered to fold. Fans were used as a means of messaging (often of a romantic nature) more than a century before internet texting. A small, but captivating exhibition at FIDM Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles displays about a dozen fans, several shown with gowns of the same period. All are from the museum’s Helen Lawson collection for which the college continues to seek purchase funding. The exhibit closes July 2. 


The Vamp Returns?

The dramatic beauty story at Marc Jacobs’ Fall ’16 show in New York City recalled the vamp of the Roaring Twenties. Hair was slick and finger-waved into a Marcel perm effect. The retro coif was updated by leaving long strands unwaved. Kohl black eye shadow and black lipstick completed the Theda Bara tribute. Too extreme for real life, but fun for the runway. 

My sketch of Marc’s modern vamp

Trio of vamps from Marc Jacobs’ Fall ’16 show 

Tremendously Talented Triumverate

From 1936 to 1958 Harper’s Bazaar magazine benefited from the collaboration of three extraordinary talents. Editor Carmel Snow, Fashion Editor/Stylist Diana Vreeland and photographer Louise Dahl-Wolfe worked together to make the magazine artistic and intellectual, visually stunning and content-rich. The Museum at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) recently celebrated their collaboration with a month-long, small but fascinating, exhibit. On view are documents and letters and photographs. Given pride of place in the concise, enlightening display are Dahl-Wolfe’s works including color proofs and copperplates used to print the then-new Kodacolor photos. The famed photographer’s ground-breaking naturalistic but genuinely artful images include dozens of memorable covers and editorial stories. Several giant photos are juxtaposed with garments from important designers of the time, including Christian Dior, Charles James, Claire McCardell, Carolyn Schnurer and Mainbocher.

Carmel Snow confers with Vreeland and Louise Dahl-Wolfe

Christian Dior coat and Dahl-Wolfe shot in Harper’s Bazaar 

Important Major Mood Swing

The Fall ’16 Saint Laurent show in Paris was something of a shocker. Designer Hedi Slimane dramatically switched directions. Since taking over Yves Saint Laurent, his mood has been young rocker chick, semi-grunge. He even moved the Saint Laurent design studio (Yves’ first name was dropped) to Los Angeles, the better to assimilate the street style vibe. He repositioned the once chic image into an homage to sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. Suddenly his new Fall ’16 collection is all grown-up into highly polished Parisian retro glamour and glitz, pushed to an extreme edge with exaggerated shoulders, wings and pouffs, sleek make-up and the shortest skirts ever (showing the skinniest legs ever!) Even the setting was a throwback, taking place in a grand, old palatial building. Does this mood swing herald an end to youthful casual style? Not likely. 

My Sketch of Fall ’16 Saint Laurent 

Saint Laurent’s New Mood

Polished Parisian Glamour 

Advance Paper Doll Book Planning

Two more new books are in the works for my “History of Hollywood Fashions” series to be published by Jenny Taliadoros’ Paper Studio Press later in the year. The two new books are related. “Singing Stars” and “Dancing Stars” will each feature several stars from the Golden Age of movie musicals along with 10 pages of costumes. First will come the book devoted to the cinema songbirds, glamorous stars who appeared on the screen and also sold millions of popular recordings. The “Singing Stars” will include Judy Garland, Doris Day, Alice Faye, Lena Horne, Shirley Jones and Barbra Streisand. Their costumes will have been seen in such musical hit movies as Easter Parade, Romance on the High Seas, The Gang’s All Here, Ziegfeld Follies, Oklahoma and Funny Girl, just to mention a few. The books will include a lengthy commentary that I’ll write about the stars and their cinematic wardrobes. I’ve always loved musicals and am delighted to think of all the happy hours I’ll spend researching vintage movie performances by the greatest singing and dancing stars ever seen on the screen. 

Judy Garland and Doris Day

Alice Faye and Lena Horne

Barbra Streisand and Shirley Jones

Celebrating a Celebrity Paper Doll Artist

Gregg Nystrom, the talented, star-struck paper doll artist got the star treatment himself when he recently appeared at a book signing. The River Oaks Bookstore in Houston, Texas hosted the signing on the evening of April 7th. Gregg, who is brimming with star quality himself, signed copies of his two very glamorous movie star paper doll books. Golden Age of Hollywood features 16 legendary stars including Marilyn Monroe, Kim Novak, Gina Lollobrigida, Rita Hayworth, Greta Garbor, Jean Harlow, Vivien Leigh, Marlene Dietrich, Veronica Lake, Lana Turner, Deborah Kerr, Sophia Loren, Brigitte Bardot, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor. Gregg’s second Dover book is B-Movie Bombshells and features Mari Blanchard, Joan Collins, Mara Corday, Bella Darvi, Faith Domergue, Diana Dors, Anita Ekberg, Rhonda Fleming, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Joi Lansing, Janet Leigh, Jayne Mansfield, Barbara Nichols, Debra Paget, Elaine Stewart and Mamie Van Doren. Don’t fret if you weren’t able to attend the book signing because Gregg Nystrom’s paper doll books are available online at paperdollreview.com

Artist Gregg Nystrom with actress/model Joan Severance and Chelsi Smith, Miss Universe 1995.