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.
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.)
Adrian’s designs for Conquest (1937) are equally amazing in color.
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.
You thought dark Gothic dramas were, well, dark? Behold this fuchsia pink (!) robe worn by Gene Tierney in 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.
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.
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?!)
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?
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.
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.
Some of the most stunning costumes are simply described as “used in an unidentified production.” Like this slinky, black beaded strapless number, c. 1940:
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.
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.