Saturday, February 25, 2012


Here is an elegant evening gown worn by Julie Andrews in the 1969 Paramount film “Darling Lili”. Costumes for the film were designed by Donald Brooks.

The costume consists of a golden silk-faille and chiffon gown with thousands of decorative rhinestones, bugle beads and diamantes sewn into an elaborate series of panels, which adorn the gown. The gown is low cut and quite heavy.

Darling Lili tells the story of a World War I music hall performer who doubles as a German spy. The film involves Andrews using her charm to obtain secrets from an American pilot played by Rock Hudson. The story is a variation on Mata Hari but with a happy ending.

The costume was designed by Donald Brooks who also designed for her in “Star!” The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Costume Design. Brooks, deigned for both stage and screen as well as the fashion industry. His preference was to design for the stage. He won a Tony Award for his costumes in the Broadway musical ''No Strings'' and three Oscar nominations. He has designed for many other Broadway shows including “Flora The Red Menace” for Liza Minnelli.

He was a prolific designer. For the 1968 movie ''Star!'' for example, he was required to design some 3,500 costumes.

Below are more detailed photos of the design to the costume. The pattern is very elaborate and would have taken someone quite a while to complete. Whilst Brooks designed the costumes, they were executed by the still running Western Costume Company in Hollywood.

Darling Lili was produced and directed by Blake Edwards, future husband to Julie Andrews. The film was plagued with problems including interference from the studios. It received poor distribution by Paramount however despite setting box-office records at Radio City Music Hall, the film was a flop.

This was the very first movie of the seven that Julie Andrews and Blake Edwards did together.

The costume can be seen in the following clip. The costume comes in at 4:35:

Julie is noted as having said of this production "I'm trying to be very still in this one, Lili isn't a lady who is bouncy. She's somebody who's cool and in perfect control, and then gets all gibberish". It was unlike her other roles to date.

Julie Andrews received a nomination for Best Actress, Musical or Comedy, while "Darling Lili" won for Best Original Song. The film was also nominated for Best Picture, Musical or Comedy.

Julie Andrews herself has said that it was never Blake Edward’s intention to make it as much of a musical as it became, but if you are going to have Julie Andrews in a movie, why not make her sing as much as possible I say!

A great gown from an entertaining film starring the wonderful Julie Andrews.


  1. wonderful!!!! Gee... it was good to remember this picture... I remembered myself as an 10 year-old-boy going to the Cinema many times while all my friends went to see a car-racing film whith Steve McQueen - I don't remember how it was called... Darling Lili was so misunderstood and got such bad notices... It is NOT one of Blake's best (neither Julie's) but it is still good... Great production!!!!

  2. What a beautiful gown! Thanks so much for including the closeups. The beading is so elaborate and detailed. Seeing it on film really didn't showcase how gorgeous it is.

    So envious of your collection.

  3. Since its initial release, there has been an enormous reevaluation of DARLING LILI by astute critics, and today many consider the film to be Edwards' masterpiece.

  4. Thanks for the nice words Page. Yes you really needed the close ups to see how amazing the beading work is!

    Thanks for the nice comments on the collection too :)

    Greg it is good news that Darling Lili has found its position as Edwards masterpiece. There are many films I can think of that were ahead of their time at their release and went on to become classics. And you can go back as far a Metropolis! Way ahead of its time.

  5. The gown is absolutely stunning and the background on the film and costume designer Donald Brooks is very interesting. My own favorite of Blake Edwards' films is "Breakfast at Tiffany's" (and the Givenchy gown Audrey Hepburn wears in the opening sequence is unforgettable). But I have to admit that I haven't seen "Darling Lili" and will make a point to see it now.

  6. Hello Costumecollector.I'd like to present you with the 7X7 Link Award for your great blog, The Vintage Film Costume Collector! You'll need to reveal seven random things about yourself, seven of your blog posts, and pass on the award to seven of your favorite blogs. Just check out my blog for the details. Congratulations! And thanks for your great efforts at preserving Hollywood Film's heritage!

  7. What an extraordinary film 'Darling Lili' is! The great, talented and forever beautiful Julie Andrews gives such a winning performance, is irresitible and looks dazzling! The songs by Henry Mancini are superb, especially the sad, haunting Whistling Away the Dark, which Julie and Blake turned into one of the most amazing musical numbers in the history of the movie musical. How inspired was Blake Edwards: his screenplay and fine direction are awesome. Julie Andrews and Rock Hudson are in their prime, look terrific together, provide great acting and are unforgettable. And the costumes by Brooks are definitely out of this world - exquisite, to say the least. Fortunately, the movie is now seen as a gem by many respected critics, like Leonard Maltin. Congratulations on this wonderful page - this gown in particular is absolutely marvelous! Waldemar Lopes

  8. Thanks Waldemar! Yes we have to be lucky in that the film found its status as a good film and yes they both looked amazing in it. For a film that wasn't a musical it has left us some wonderful tunes too I agree.

    Brooks did amazingly well with the gowns. I am a big admirer of his work. His gowns in "Star!" are also incredible too.

    Thanks for the nice words on the page too!

  9. Great to hear from you! I had the good fortunate to meet the great, talented and forever beautiful Julie Andrews and the amazing Blake Edwards a lot of times in NYC. They were so nice! I am in awe of Julie and Blake's talent, and am a huge fan of "Darling Lili". I agree with you, the Brooks costumes in "Star!" are absolutely wonderful. It seems that Julie has a record in history for wearing 125 costumes or so in a movie! And your page is really impressive, I can't forget the text or the great photos showing the details on Brooks' exquisite gown". Congrats!

  10. How wonderful that you got to meet Ms Andrews and Mr Edwards together! Lucky yo. I am glad they were nice. Yes she is very talented and she is just perfect in that role, and yes she looked amazing in Star! will all 125 changes! Thanks again!

  11. wow! what a great and wonderful collection. The costumes look adorable, that must be expensive isn't it? I found your blog amazingly beautiful. You have collected the stunning vintage costumes that a woman could wish for. Imagine you have the star collection :)

  12. Hi Jenny! Thanks so much for your wonderful comments. They are very nice hear!

    I expect it would have cost a lot to make when it was first produced. I was a lot luckier when I found it. It was listed as an unknown piece with no labels. I bought it as it looked important and star worn. Later I found it on Julie Andrews! As a collector its great to be able to give these treasures identity again.

    its taken 15 years to build this collection up. There are some amazing collections out there as well. Hope they all come to light and are displayed and enjoyed!

    Thanks again!