Favorite Picks from Debbie Reynolds’ Costume Auction

In my fantasy world, I’m a wealthy costume collector who could start a Classic Hollywood Costume Museum.  Unfortunately, in real life I’m nothing of the kind, but luckily I can flip through a (digital) catalog and ooh and ahh over the historic costumes within.  Kind of like going through LEGO catalogs as a kid and picking out all the sets you were going to “buy.”

Here are some of my favorites from Debbie Reynolds’ finale auction, which I blogged about last week.

Dress worn by Katherine DeMille in "Romeo & Juliet" (1936). Designed by Adrian & Oliver Messel.

Dress worn by Katherine DeMille in “Romeo & Juliet” (1936). Designed by Adrian & Oliver Messel.

How I wish some old movies could have been filmed in color!  Look at these costumes by Adrian and Oliver Messel for the black-and-white Romeo and Juliet (1936).  (Previous auctions featured Adrian’s wildly over-the-top 18th century gowns for Marie Antoinette, and other Romeo and Juliet costumes.)

 

Tan gown with black satin cording from "Romeo & Juliet" (1936).

Tan gown with black satin cording from “Romeo & Juliet” (1936).

From the first auction: Norma Shearer's "Juliet" purple velvet gown with gold bullion embroidered birds.

From the first auction: Norma Shearer’s “Juliet” purple velvet gown with gold bullion embroidered birds.

 

Adrian’s designs for Conquest (1937) are equally amazing in color.

Blue silk velvet gown with starburst metal discs from "Conquest" (1937). Designed by Adrian.

Blue silk velvet gown with starburst metal discs from “Conquest” (1937). Designed by Adrian.

Moss green velvet gown from "Conquest" (1937). Designed by Adrian.

Moss green velvet gown from “Conquest” (1937). Designed by Adrian.

 

Born Yesterday (1950) is one of my favorite 50s comedies.  Up for auction are two pieces from Judy Holliday’s movie wardrobe, designed by Jean Louis: the black negligee she wears in bed while reading the newspaper, and the suit she wears in the museum scenes.  Both have been altered post-production; in the case of the negligee, heavily so.

 

Black satin negligee with short puff sleeves, worn by Judy Holliday in "Born Yesterday" (1950).

Black satin negligee with short puff sleeves, worn by Judy Holliday in “Born Yesterday” (1950).

Mocha brown and ivory textured day suit worn by Judy Holliday in "Born Yesterday" (1950).

Mocha brown and ivory textured day suit worn by Judy Holliday in “Born Yesterday” (1950).

 

You thought dark Gothic dramas were, well, dark?  Behold this fuchsia pink (!) robe worn by Gene Tierney in Dragonwyck:

dr-genetierney-pink-dragonwyck

 

Entry No. 2 in the Movie Robes Department:  Gorgeous!  Described as a burgundy silk velvet dressing robe made for Ingrid Bergman c. 1940, it’s supposed to be from an unidentified production, possibly Adam Had Four Sons.

dr-ingridbergman-velvetrobe

 

Kim Novak’s memorable green print dress from Picnic.  In the movie, it would have been worn with a petticoat (or multiple petticoats) to fluff out the skirt.

dr-kimnovak-picnic

 

Two Helen Rose safari-style outfits from Mogambo (1953): Grace Kelly’s culottes and jacket of mocha raw silk, and Ava Gardner’s tan wool safari jacket.  These were listed in previous auctions, and evidently never sold.  (Why not?!)

Grace Kelly outfit from "Mogambo" (1953).

Grace Kelly outfit from “Mogambo” (1953).

Ava Gardner jacket from "Mogambo" (1953).

Ava Gardner jacket from “Mogambo” (1953).

 

This striking bright purple and hot pink costume is a Helen Rose design from Made in Paris (1966).  This movie has a fashion show sequence?  Why haven’t I seen it?

Design by Helen Rose for "Made in Paris".

Design by Helen Rose for “Made in Paris”.

 

Frenchman’s Creek (1944) is on the list of movies I want to watch – doubly so, after seeing this velvet and lame 17th century number worn by Joan Fontaine.

dr-joanfontaine-frenchmanscreek

 

Unattributed to any particular production, but possibly worn by Deanna Durbin, this dress is being sold as part of a lot.  It’s a beautiful piece, and a deceptively simple design – look at the tucks to shape the netting on the bodice.

Catalog description: "Deep emerald green strapless dress with sweetheart neckline, multiple layers of netting, neck halter and varying shades of green silk flowers and green velvet leaves on green velvet cord at waistline. Gold lame underskirt with deep aqua overtone and back slit. Hook & eye with zip back closure. No label. Attributed to Deanna Durbin."

Catalog description: “Deep emerald green strapless dress with sweetheart neckline, multiple layers of netting, neck halter and varying shades of green silk flowers and green velvet leaves on green velvet cord at waistline. Gold lame underskirt with deep aqua overtone and back slit. Hook & eye with zip back closure. No label. Attributed to Deanna Durbin.”

 

Some of the most stunning costumes are simply described as “used in an unidentified production.”  Like this slinky, black beaded strapless number, c. 1940:

dr-blackbeadedstrapless-unidentified

 

Lastly, these hats designed by Walter Plunkett for Gone with the Wind (1939).  While the movie itself doesn’t rate high on my list of favorites, you have to admire the millinery.  Vivien Leigh could wear a Victorian hat with panache.

Black lace hat designed for Vivien Leigh in "Gone With the Wind" by Walter Plunkett.  Not in the final film.

Black lace hat designed for Vivien Leigh in “Gone with the Wind” by Walter Plunkett. Not in the final film.

Pale peach hat designed for Vivien Leigh in "Gone With the Wind" by Walter Plunkett.

Pale peach hat designed for Vivien Leigh in “Gone with the Wind” by Walter Plunkett.

 

 

Hope you enjoyed this small sampling of old movie wardrobe magic.  All photos are from Profiles in History’s auction catalog, which can be viewed online or downloaded here.

 

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4 thoughts on “Favorite Picks from Debbie Reynolds’ Costume Auction

  1. Be still my vintage costume loving heart, these are sublime!!! I couldn’t scroll through the photos without, no joke, audibly gasping “ooooohs” and “awwwwhhhs” aloud. In fact, I looked through the images three times, just to really soak up all the marvelousness. Everything is stunning, but it’s the blue silk starburst gown that captured my heart most of all. The whimsical meets elegant quality of it is completely magnificent! Thank you for the awesome feast for the days that these great photos present.

    ♥ Jessica

    • Thank you for stopping by! :) I’m glad you enjoyed looking at the costumes – they’re too gorgeous not to share. I don’t think I could pick a favorite, but that particular gown is definitely on my Top 10 list.

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