Monday, June 28, 2010


Rhonda Fleming is considered one of the most beautiful and glamorous actresses of the 40's and 50's cinema and was nicknamed the "Queen of Technicolor" based on her red hair photographing well in Technicolor.

This is a period gown worn by Rhonda Fleming in the 1949 Paramount musical "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court".

Costumes were designed by Edith Head. Fleming co-starred with Bing Crosby in this her first Technicolor film. The story of the flim is based on the Mark Twain classic.

Fleming is also known for her roles in films such as "Spellbound" 1945 for Alfred Hitchcock and "The Spiral Staircase" in 1946 for Robert Siodmak. Fleming also appread in the film noir classic "Out of the Past" in 1947.

A charming period costume worn by this wonderful lady!

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Dame Elizabeth Taylor was born Hampstead, London. Moving to the US in 1939, she was discovered at an early age and signed her first film contract with Universal Pictures in 1941.

Moving to MGM in 1942, she appeared in “Lassie Come Home”. Loaned to Fox studios, Taylor also appeared in “Jane Eyre” in 1944.

For MGM however, Taylor has been involved in some of the most memorable productions the studio has ever produced including “National Velvet”, “Father of the Bride”, “Raintree County”, “Little Women” and “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof”.

This elegant suit was worn by Elizabeth Taylor in the sequel to “Father of the Bride” being “Father's Little Dividend” in 1951. The film starred Spencer Tracy.

The Yellow two piece suit is decorated with lace trim to the collar and bodice. The costume was designed by Helen Rose.

The gown appears in the Christening scenes in the film.

This second gown was worn by Elizabeth Taylor in 1954 for the film “Beau Brummell” . This period film tells the story of Beau Brummell, played by Stewart Granger who trades a military career for looking good after he insults the Crown Prince. Peter Ustinov plays The Prince of Wales in the film. Taylor portrayed the character of Lady Patricia. Costumes were designed by Elizabeth Haffenden.

This pale blue silk period gown was worn by Elizabeth Taylor with a gauze overlay, fitted bodice with back eyelet closure and a sash, ruffled short sleeves, and a full skirt embroidered with delicate silver bullion and rhinestones. There is a handwritten Western Costume Co label inscribed E. Taylor and a handwritten B.J. Simmons & Co. label inscribed Miss E. Taylor.

The gown is seen in key sequences in the film.

Taylor can also be seen here in costume between takes. With her is her co-star Stewart Granger and husband Michael Wilding.

Here is Taylor emerging from her dressing room in costume, with tea!

Taylor appeared in Giant in 1956. Following which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in the film ‘Raintree County’ in 1957 opposite Montgomery Clift. An attempt by MGM to make a sequel to “Gone With The Wind”, this American Civil War epic tells the story of love between characters played by Montgomery Clift and Eva Marie Saint and Clift then entering into a passionate, yet loveless, marriage with a woman named Susanna Drake played by Elizabeth Taylor. It is later discovered that Taylor character’s mother died in an asylum and it becomes apparent that Susanna has inherited her family's illness. The film is set against the backdrop of the civil war.

Here is a full-length gown designed by Walter Plunkett and worn by Elizabeth Taylor in the film. The bodice of mauve taffeta with full sleeves of layers of tulle embroidered with mauve flower heads, the full-length skirt of ivory cotton embroidered all over with mauve flower heads, with corresponding layered underskirt; and a parasol -- made for Elizabeth Taylor as Susanna Drake in the 1957 M.G.M. film Raintree County.

Also in the photo is the original corresponding costume design by Walter Plunkett, graphite and watercolour on card, signed by Walter Plunkett, the reverse with production ink-stamps and production details inscribed in pencil.

The costume appeared on a location shoot for the film at the famous Windsor ruins in Mississippi.


This is a period gown worn by actress Grace Kelly in the 1956 MGM film “The Swan”.

The film was one of the last in production for MGM with Grace Kelly before she left Hollywood to become Princess Grace of Monaco. The film tells the story of the daughter of a minor European royal house who is being considered as a wife for her cousin, the heir to the throne. The film’s theme was rather prophetic and mirrored what was to occur in real life. In fact MGM held the release of the film to correspond with the wedding day of Grace Kelly to Prince Rainier of Monaco.

The costumes for the film were designed by Helen Rose. The costume consists of an embroidered cream blouse with a silk dress overlay decorated with a floral motif.

This is a copy of the original sketch designed and executed by Helen Rose showing the costume.

Grace Kelly is seen here on the set of ‘The Swan” and between takes in the costume.

The silk blouse was also seen on the cover of Screen Stories Magazine.

Grace Kelly as an actress was keen to involve herself in the workings of film and especially with costume. Kelly worked closely with the designers to ensure the accuracy of the costume for the period and the look of the film.

In the 1970’s the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, held a retrospective of film costume. Kelly who visited the exhibition commented on the costumes that were on display from “The Swan” The gowns had been paired with shoes and parasol’s that were not original to the costume or in fact looked appropriate for the costume. Kelly commented on this aspect of the exhibition. Her awareness of film costume and what was correct never left her.

Grace Kelly enjoyed working with Helen Rose in many of her films as well as in her private and public life. In fact Helen Rose went on to design one of the most famous wedding gowns ever for Ms Kelly with her marriage to Prince Rainier.

A costume fit for a Princess!


The fate of the Olympic-class passenger liner Titanic has been the subject of a number of films and mini series. The first of these films was made in 1929. The most recent, being James Cameron’s epic in 1997.

This is a gown worn by Barbara Stanwyck in the 1953 20th Centry Fox version of the film directed by Jean Negulesco. Starring opposite Clifton Webb and a young Robert Wagner, the costumes for the film were designed by Dorothy Jeakins.

This gown was worn by Thelma Ritter in the same film version. Ritter played the character of Maude Young which was in effect the Unsinkable Molly Brown.

Below is a photo of Thelma Ritter, Barbara Stanwyck and Clifton Webb on set for Titanic between takes. Thelma Ritter is wearing the costume.

From the 1997 James Cameron film, this hat was worn by Kathy Bates in her portrayal of Molly Brown. Many of the costumes were in them period pieces from the era. This hat was made in the early 1900’s and altered as required for use in the film. The hat appears in the first lunch scene on the Titanic.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


British Born Greer Garson was a major MGM star in the 40’s and 50’s and was discovered by MGM head Louis B. Mayer on the London stage. Mayer offered Garson a contract with MGM.

At MGM Garson starred in memorable film classics including “Goodbye, Mr. Chips”. Garson was nominated for an Oscar for her role.

Garson also appeared in other memorable films including “Pride and Prejudice” , “Mrs Miniver”, “Mrs Parkington” and “Marie Curie” .

Here is a period gown worn by Greer Garson in the 1951 MGM film “Law and the Lady” Starring opposite Michael Wilding and Fernando Lamas, Garson plays a housemaid turned thief and con artist. This comedy was the third remake of this famous stage play and Garsons role had previously been portrayed by both Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford.

Costumes for the film were designed by Walter Plunkett. Plunkett who also designed for “Gone With The Wind” in 1939 called upon a previous design he used in that film, namely the famous green dress that Scarlett O’Hara has made out of curtains. In this film, Garson discusses having made her gown out of the curtains, which hung in her now ex employer’s drawing room. Plunkett makes wonderful use of the curtain tassel on the gown as part of the design of he costume.

The costume appears in a very charming scene between both Wilding and Lamas.

The gown also gives an insight into the colours and fabrics used by the MGM costume creators in order for the costumes to appear and to film well on black and white film stock. The rust coloured silk provides a striking comparison to the white panels, which appears beautifully on screen.

Garson remains one of the most popular actresses of the 40’s and continues to remain for many a much loved and adored film star.


Here is a wonderful ensemble worn by Judy Garland in the MGM musical "Easter Parade" in 1948.

Easter Parade is considered one of the best of the MGM musicals of the 40's with a great cast and memorable songs from Irving Berlin.

Judy Garland wears this desgin in the "Fella with An Umbrella" sequence and leading into the "I Love a Piano" medley.

The costume consists of a red panelled skirt with dart ends and a black form fitting jacket.

Costuems were dsigned by Irene.

In an intervew with Judy Garland, she provided her recollections of filming the "Fella with an Umbrella", sequence which was filmed on the backlot during a rain sequence. Judy recalls "I was wearing a red skirt, a black jacket and a little black Scottish hat with a red plume. At the
very end of the number, all I had to do was turn and do a sort of lovely look at Peter. Suddenly, everyone yelled 'Cut!'; I thought 'What have I done?' Well, it turned out the dye off the red feather ran all over my face and the back of my jacket; it looked like there was just blood
everywhere. So then they had to reset and get more rain. And they couldn't figure out what to do with this bloody feather - so they put Vaseline on it! Which I thought was kind of unattractive!"

A wonderful piece of both Garland and MGM history.

Garland can be seen wearing the cosutme in various production shots from the film including clowning around with Peter Lawford on the set.

The costume was also used in a Garland exhibition in New York City some years ago. Featured also were costumes worn in "Summer Stock" and "In The Good Old Summertime".

These boots form part of the few remaining pieces of costume made for Judy Garland to be worn in her role as Annie Oakley in "Annie Get Your Gun" for MGM in 1950. Judy Garland was replaced in the production by Betty Hutton as a result of ongoing health problems.

Whilst Judy Garland sadly never completed the production, there remains a complete recording of the musical numbers from the film as well as the filming of two production numbers including "Im an Indian". Production photos including costume tests have also survived.

The boots are worn by Judy Garland in this costume test from the film. Costumes were desgined by Helen Rose and Walter Plunkett. A great association piece from a true legend.