Mar 21, 2017

#70 - Dateline Hollywood - FIDM Movie Costumes, The Oscars Red Carpet, Exotic 1920s Fashions, Silent Star Wardrobes

Lights! Action! Costumes!

Every year for the past twenty-five, the museum at FIDM college in Los Angeles stages an exhibition of the previous year’s best movie costumes. This year’s Oscar winner, Fantastic Creatures and Where to Find Them, designed by Colleen Atwood is a perfect example of how costumes contribute to a film’s success. The exhibit, features many, many costumes that demonstrate the scope of motion pictures today; contemporary dramas like Fences, fantastic fantasies including new Star Trek and Star Wars epics as well as historical recreations. Musicals, rare these days, are represented by La La Land, costumes by Mary Zophres and Florence Foster Jenkins, costumes by Consolata Boyle. As always, period costumes deserve attention and designers channeled centuries of remembrance. Romantic 18th Century antique looks for Love and Friendship were designed by Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh. The Jazz Age inspired Live by Night costumes by Jacqueline West and ‘40s wartime fashion was recreated by Joanna Johnston in Allied. Fantastic fantasy expressions included Alice Through the Looking Glass with creative costumes by Oscar winner Colleen Atwood. Hail Caesar’s costumes by Mary Zophres captured vintage Hollywood while Michael Wilkinson opted to darken the heroic images of comic book characters, Batman v Superman. As expected, costumes from the dark side of several action/fantasy/sci-fi blockbusters were displayed, but the costumes for such now-monotonous fare are no longer as exciting as once they were. The exhibit at FIDM, 919 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90015, ends April 22. 

Florence Foster Jenkins and La La Land

Love and Friendship, Live by Night and Allied

Alice Through the Looking Glass and The Huntsman: Winter’s War

Hail, Caesar and Batman v Superman

1920s Exotica

Exhibit The Twenties wasn’t always roaring, it was also a time of fascination with exotic locations and decorations, especially China and Egypt. The FIDM Museum in Los Angeles currently has a small exhibit of some prime examples of exotic fashions from the Twenties, lavishly embroidered and decorated. Also on view is the cover of a 1927 Harper’s Bazaar magazine heralding a fashion season inspired by Egypt, obviously exploiting Howard Carter’s sensational discovery of King Tut’s tomb. The exhibit at FIDM, 919 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90015, ends April 22. 

Exotica decorated coats and 1927 magazine cover

Printed pajamas, embroidered garments and velvet gown

The RIGHT envelope, please!

The best-dressed star at the recent 89th Academy Awards was Janelle Monae in an over-done decorative mess of a mad Marie Antoinette gown by Elie Saab. No, wait! That’s wrong. I meant to say that the best dressed star was Isabelle Huppert, sublime in a simple, long-sleeved, high neck, absolutely elegant silvery beaded Armani Prive gown. Whew. I’m glad I caught that. Fashion news was made by several stars who favored long sleeves rather than the usual bare cleavage. They included not only Mlle. Huppert, but also Ruth Negga, Dakota Johnson (in Gucci) and Chrissy Teigen. 

The Oscar show is the fashion grand finale of the awards season and the gowns reached a crescendo of glamour. Metallics referenced the coveted statuettes with golden gowns worn by Jessica Biel and Robin Roberts while Teresa Palmer, among others, shimmered in silvery Prada. Charlize Theron opted for dark pewter. Fantastic feathers floated around Octavia Spencer’s Marchesa creation and Sofia Boutella’s Chanel sparkler. The drama of black (or near-black) emphasized the couture creativity of strongly stated silhouettes for Taraji P. Henson, Kirsten Dunst and Brie Larson. Half-black, a plunging bodice atop a cream skirt by Louis Vuitton, suited Michelle Williams’ and Emma Roberts’ gowns. Color was almost non-existent, excepting Scarlett Johansson’s sheer pink print, Leslie Mann’s yellow Zac Posen ball gown, Meryl Streep’s inky blue and Viola Davis’ stunning red Armani Prive gown. 

Stylists to the stars honored the diversity driving the movie industry these days and selected highly individualized looks, some Oscar-worthy, some not. Halle Berry’s explosive hair-do got more attention than her nearly nude sheer sheath by Versace Couture. Also making an overtly sexy statement was Amy Adams in a silvery foil va-va-voom gown and hair-do that suggested Jessica Rabbit. Both Best Actress Emma Stone in fringed Givenchy and nominee Nicole Kidman in Armani Prive wore similar columnar gowns encrusted with fancy embellishment. For fashionista red carpet viewers, the most interesting gown had to be Naomie Harris’ ultra-modern, minimal white sequined strapless number with a panel train from Calvin Klein, now under the creative guidance of Raf Simons, ex-Dior designer. 

The Best: Isabelle Huppert…The Worst: Janelle Monae…The Next: Naomie Harris

Golden Girls…Jessica Biel, Robin Roberts, Dakota Johnson

Long Sleeves…Chrissy Teigen, Amy Adams, Ruth Negga

Dark Shadows…Brie Larson, Charlize Theron, Taraji P. Henson

Fancy Glamour…Emma Stone, Nicole Kidman, Priyanka Chopra

Rare Spots of Color….Leslie Mann, Scarlett Johansson, Viola Davis
Feathers and Flyaway Hair…Octavia Spencer, Sofia Boutella, Halle Berry

Silent Star Wardrobes

For my forthcoming book, Silent Screen Stars, researching the wardrobes of the six paper dolls subjects was fascinating. I must admit, I’ve never been a big fan of non-talking pictures but I watched several. I really grew to appreciate the skill involved in expressing emotions without saying a word. And I now know why Garbo was so revered. Her acting style was so natural yet deeply expressive and oh, how she could suffer! I now understand what subtle skill she displayed when she finally spoke on the screen in Anna Christie. Her silent movie wardrobe was often exotic, nothing like Lillian Gish’s romantic frocks. Each star paper doll has a very distinctive wardrobe. Here’s a peek …. 

Wardrobes for Greta Garbo and Lillian Gish

Coloring Lovely Young Elizabeth Taylor

This month’s coloring book pages are from a very well drawn Whitman book published in 1954 when Elizabeth Taylor was moving from being cast as a pretty ingĂ©nue to a sultry siren starring in Elephant Walk and The Last Time I Saw Paris

David Wolfe, Classic Hollywood, Elizabeth Taylor
Elizabeth Taylor 1954 coloring book. 

Liz Taylor, David Wolfe, Classic Coloring BOok
Wearing colors chosen to complement those famous lavender eyes.

Art for a Special Coloring Book 

I was asked to contribute two pages for a special coloring book, ‘Fashions of the 1930s.” A compilation of artwork by many artists, it will be given as a souvenir at two events celebrating the 80th Anniversary of the United Federation of Doll Clubs in Orlando, Florida and Kingston, New York. I chose to draw a little homage to my favorite ‘30s designer, Adrian. His artistic genius transformed pretty women into goddesses of the silver screen. I also depicted several of those fabulous fashions in Adrian, Hollywood Designer Paper Dolls, currently available from Paperdoll Review

MGM Movie Costumes, David Wolfe
For a souvenir coloring book celebrating the 80th Anniversary of the United Federation of Doll Clubs.