If it ever mattered what movie stars wear, on and off screen, then it was… always. The difference between Carrey Mulligan in the Great Gatsby dripping with Prada and Tiffany or Cate Blanchett wearing Carolina Herrera in Blue Jasmine, Woody Allen’s new movie, and Casablanca or Gone with the Wind is that today the laurels of the actor’s performance, the movie’s success and prestige of designers all rest on each other’s shoulders, in a carefully choreographed blend of talent, collaboration and marketing.
Hollywood’s Golden Age, on the other hand, failed to recognise all of those contributing to its legendary successes. Rita Hayworth, Marylin Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor, Alfred Hitchcock, David O. Selznick, MGM and Paramount – actresses, directors, producers and studios, have been covered with glittering glory in silks, capes and tiaras that almost no one knows who designed.
This is why Hollywood Sketchbook: A Century of Costume Illustration, by Deborah Nadoolman Landis – USD 46.99 at Amazon – is so fascinating. Because besides superb costume sketches for Coppola’s Godfather, Cleopatra starring Liz Taylor or Hitchcock’s Vertigo, it speaks, through anecdotes of the designer themselves, of collectors, archivists and illustrators, about Hollywood stories. Of the inception and growth of a character and of the cinema lives of the designers having provided them with colour, depth, and life.
sketch for Cleopatra, starring Elizabeth Taylor, by Travis Banton
Photo sources: Amazon, LA Times