When this editor was a little girl, she loved witches so much, she formed a “Witch Club” with her best friend. (Thankfully, those days are behind her!) She also loved old movies and Jimmy Stewart, so her parents rented her Bell, Book and Candle. Honestly, I was so bored I couldn’t even tell you what happened, but it does make me feel nostalgic! In the 1958 film, Kim Novak plays a Manhattan girl and a modern witch who falls in love with James Stewart! She sports some stunning costumes by Jean Louis, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his work on the film. Here is the best: a simple, long-sleeved black peplum dress, with silk gloves and the most elegant hooded cape to match. Bewitching is an understatement.
Tonight, the 86th Academy Awards will air, and our final “Look-of-the-Day” from an Oscar-nominated film is Helen Hunt in As Good As It Gets. Hunt won Best Actress for her portrayal as Carol Connelly, a single mom who works as a waitress, and ends up romantically-involved with an high-maintenance, best-selling OCD author named Martin Udall (played by Jack Nicholson). It’s one of this editor’s all-time favorite movies. Here, Carol enters for their first date in a lovely, patent leather-belted red shirt dress with white polka dots and matching buttons. Ali Basye of On This Day in Fashion references costume designer Molly Maginnis’ comments about the outfit from the book Dressed: A Century of Hollywood Costume Design, “Jim Brooks told me repeatedly that this was the most important costume in the movie… It was important that the dress have the feel of a housedress and yet make Helen’s character feel like she looks great.” Martin, always charming, takes the wind right out of her, by commenting, “I don’t get this place. They make me buy a new outfit, and they let you in with a house dress.” Carol is ready to walk out on him, but he convinces her to stay, by revealing the best compliment of all. <3
Our “Look-of-the-Day” posts this week feature looks from Oscar-nominated films, in honor of the upcoming award ceremony. Here is one of our all-time favorite actresses, Donna Reed in From Here to Eternity. The clean-cut Midwestern star was most famous for her classic 1950s/60s television show, but what most people don’t know is that she won an Academy Award for playing a prostitute in the 1953 film. Our editors always adored her from having watched It’s A Wonderful Life every Christmas since they were little. While that movie seems to stand the test of time, From Here to Eternity feels extremely dated upon recent viewing. Other than the iconic beach scene, the only memorable part of the film is Reed. Her subtle performance far outshines the other major stars in the movie. Here she is as Alma “Lorene” Burke in a sexy black halter dress with sequined straps, dark lipstick and chandelier earrings. The sultry look was much different than the lily white characters Reed normally played, but she still manages to look very lovely as a lady of the night.
For Valentine’s Day, we usually show our favorite looks from romances, and since the Day of Love fell on a “Fancy Friday,” it only made sense to feature a romantic gown. (Apparently, RED is the color we like for this holiday, considering it was last year’s choice and also our first Valentine’s post). Here is the magnificent Cate Blanchett with Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. This is one of this editor’s all-time favorite cinematic dresses, and I’ve wanted to write about it since we started theSkinnyStiletto. Blanchett plays Daisy, a girl who falls in love with the boy next door, but the only problem is, he’s trapped in the body of an old man who ages backwards. Here, he’s come to admit his true feelings for her, but it’s a bit awkward as she’s a bright, youthful dancer and he’s still deep into middle-age (at least physically). Costume designer Jacqueline West (who was nominated for her work on this movie) described how it was her favorite look of the film to Elle: “The red dress has become kind of an icon piece. It was a compilation of some different Claire McCardell designs that I loved. The long ballerina-length skirt in 1947 – no one else was doing that really in America. It was strictly in Europe, in France. McCardell’s favorite color was red, and I put the hooks and eyes that she used on a lot of her clothing down the front as an homage to her.” West also went on to say it was also Blanchett’s favorite, and director David Fincher doesn’t like red, so Blanchett said having never worn a red dress himself, he “was perhaps not aware of its power.” The result was stunning, and the most memorable part of the film is the way Daisy performs her ballet sequence for Benjamin in the gown (pictured, below). It’s the moment when the viewer realizes that they’re destined for each other, even if they’re at opposite ends of their lives.
While we’ve featured different school uniforms from TV and film for “Back-to-School Week,” Hogwarts is probably the most exciting and magical (obviously) of the private schools we’d like to go to! Here is Emma Watson as beloved literary character, Hermione Granger, in her Hogwarts gear. She and her two best friends, Harry Potter and Ron Weasley, attend the wizard academy from the ages 11 to 18. Since all three are members of the Gryffindor House, their gray uniforms tend to be punched up by their house’s colors – crimson and gold. Over the years, Hermione goes from an adorable, frizzy-haired bookworm to a stunning, smart wizard, all while wearing various gray skirts (usually accordion), gray pullovers and cardigans piped with red and gold, white button-down blouses, Gryffindor-crested black cloaks, and red & gold ties and scarves that top off every outfit (that we were dying to buy as preteens). Costume designer Judianna Makovsky was nominated for an Academy Award for her work on the first film, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, while fellow Oscar-winning designer Lindy Hemming costumed the second film, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. The following six other Harry Potter films were outfitted by Jany Temime. You can see Hermione’s complete transformation on In Style‘s website. We love the curly-haired heroine so much, we actually wish the books had featured her as the star of the whole series! 😉
“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Anna Karenina is an epic story written by famed novelist Leo Tolstoy. (Which was actually made popular again, due to its appearance on Oprah’s book list a couple of years ago… Oh, society.) Director Joe Wright, of Atonement and Pride & Prejudice, brought the Russian epic onscreen, and didn’t really do a good job of it. Although it took this editor three viewings just to get through the film, the only thing that kept me interested was Costume Designer Jacqueline Durran’s extraordinary work, and seeing it on one of our favorite girls, Keira Knightley. We actually featured Durran’s most famous creation, the stunning emerald number that Keira sports in Atonement, in our very first “Look-of-the-Day.” In an interview with Glamour, Durran said, “At the first meeting I had with the director, Joe Wright, he told me that he didn’t really want to make it historically accurate, costume wise: he wanted to stylize it. The way he wanted to stylize it was to concentrate on the silhouette of each character and to take an 1870s silhouette, but simplify the surface details so that it really had the architectural simplicity of 50s couture. What I had to do immediately was look at the 1870s shape then strip away all the surface detail and just be left with that pure shape.” The combination of the two eras resulted in a stunning wardrobe, with inspiration from vintage Balenciaga, Lanvin, and Christian Dior. Anna appears in an off-the-shoulder scarlet gown and strings of pearls in one of the opening scenes (pictured, above right) – the lady wore red alright, considering this scene marks the beginning of her affair with Vronsky (played by the miscast Aaron Taylor-Johnson). Her romantic competition, Kitty, is played by the young and innocent Alicia Vikander (pictured, above with Taylor-Johnson). Durran told the Daily News, “Kitty’s white dress really evolved from the idea of her being a debutante and being a child.” Especially, since it’s covered in little pink ribbons and roses. Knightley’s Anna Karenina is clearly the most striking individual at the party in red, while everyone surrounding her is in stark white. If there’s one thing we learned from this version of Anna Karenina, it’s that Keira Knightley can wear a hat. Be it a veiled topper adorned with a large rose (pictured, above left), or an embroidered stunner atop her curls (pictured, above right), or looking like she walked right off the set of Doctor Zhivago in a fur-trimmed Cossack hat (pictured, top), Miss Knightley looks purely stunning in any topper. Her bold brows, high cheekbones, and magnetic eyes are certainly a director’s (and a costumer’s) dream for closeups. At the dance where both Anna and Kitty dance with Count Vronsky, Anna is dressed in a black ballgown (pictured, below right). According to the New York Times, Durran said, “It is one of the most famous costumes in literature. The way the dress is described, and why it is the most perfect dress for that day, is because it frames Anna’s beauty.” Knightley sports a dark taffeta gown, and two million dollars’ worth of Chanel diamonds, against a sea of pastels, which “functions visually, because Anna is standing out against this society.” (Fun Fact: Keira Knightley is a spokeswoman for the famous French brand’s fragrance.) According to Vanity Fair, “As Anna falls in love with Vronsky, her clothes become lighter in hue to reflect her lighter mood, before returning to darker shades to complement her growing anxiety and paranoia.” After publicly divorcing her husband Alexei (played by a creepy Jude Law) for Count Vronsky, she appears at the opera in a beautiful, fluffy white gown, adorned in diamonds and a white fur stole (pictured, above). Anna causes quite a scandal by attending the society event, now that she’s a “ruined woman.” Jacqueline Durran’s favorite costume of the film is the asymmetrical ivory gown and pillbox hat Knightley sports in the tearoom scene (pictured, below). Our editors’ favorite costume is the gray gown with the black lace overlay that Keira wears toward the ending of the film. She looks distraught and depressed, but the gown is truly beautiful. Although, her best accessories obviously hail from her hatted scenes, or ones where she’s dripping in diamonds from Chanel. The movie may have stunk, but the costumes were some of the most stunning of 2013. Best of luck to Miss Durran!
We’re extremely biased when it comes to this year’s Best Actress race – we’re rooting for Jennifer Lawrence for her hilarious role in Silver Linings Playbook. Here is our girl crush wearing a plunging neckline on an emerald green pre-fall Calvin Klein dress for the New York premiere of her other huge film of 2012, The Hunger Games. She certainly looks sexy in her pleated frock and Jimmy Choo sandals – we hope she wins tonight! <3
Mirror Mirror is the other Snow White story up for the Academy Award for Best Costume this year, like Colleen Atwood’s work on Snow White and the Huntsman. Both films actually bombed at the box office, and while they tell the same tale, the two films have very different tones. While Huntsman tells the darker side of the legendary fairy tale, Mirror Mirror is its comedic complement, but it actually has the sad back story. Its costume designer, Eiko Ishioka died last year after a battle with pancreatic cancer. This was the last film she outfitted. She previously won an Oscar for her work on Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula. According to The New York Times, famed director Coppola said their success was due, “90 percent because she was a genius, and 10 percent because she could not understand a word I said.” Ishioka was undergoing chemotherapy while working on Mirror Mirror. Director Tarsem Singh told The Hollywood Reporter, “You would never have known. She only had two speeds. Full throttle and stop. We never had to wait for costumes.” Ishioka’s incredible use of primary colors throughout the film was a stunning visual experience, especially against the beauty of the film’s two stars (and their tresses), famed redhead Julia Roberts (pictured, above), and the raven-haired Lily Collins (pictured, top right and below). Singh commented on Ishioka’s work while discussing the evil queen as, “a person who only cares about power… She turned the queen into a peacock, literally a red peacock. You can see her from a mile away.” (Pictured, top left). Lily Collins was ideal casting for the girl with, “skin white as snow, lips red as blood, hair black as night,” since that’s how pretty the actress is in day-to-day life! As Snow White onscreen, we see her first appear in a beautiful pastel pink, blue and yellow gown, decorated with tiny flowers. According to THR, “Ishioka’s only direction was that the princess was ‘connected to nature.’ Tarsem recalls, ‘She came back with a feminine gown with embroidered hummingbirds, butterflies and flowers that said it all.'” (Pictured, top right). When Snow attempts to flee, she sports a stunning sunflower-colored cape (pictured, above) that looks strikingly dramatic against Collins’ stark brunette locks. During the pivotal ball scene, Ishioka came up with the concept that every attendee would be dressed as a different animal (pictured, above). Prince Charming was played by up-and-comer Armie Hammer, who dressed as a rabbit, while Snow herself had a costume of another stunning white creature, famously known for starting out oppressed: an elegant swan. The author of the THR article believes the low neckline and wings she wears represents the princess’s desire to break free from the evil queen’s hold on her. Julia Roberts looks practically like a sister of Queen Elizabeth I, with extravagant ballgowns, high frilly white collars, and famous red hair (pictured, below right). The Queen’s nemesis becomes quite sporty when she is rescued by seven tiny friends, and hides in the local forest. In this version of the fairy tale, Snow White learns to sword fight, and dons pants! (Much more interesting than cleaning up and keeping house after seven small men, I guess…) Ishioka dressed Collins in a teal peasant blouse, billowy black bell pants, and a dark corseted vest decorated with gold leaves – another nod to the princess’s connection to nature (pictured, above left). It’s our favorite costume that Collins wears in the film, while the stunning wedding creation Julia Roberts dons is clearly the other winner (pictured, below). According to the Daily News, the queen “wore gowns with high collars and sharp shoulders to evoke the feeling of power and danger.” If you look closely, the bodice has intricate detailing that spreads into crawling vines over the skirt, just like poison ivy, indicating what a sneaky creep the queen is. The wedding gown weighed 60 pounds, measured eight feet in diameter, and needed seven people to move it! Fun Fact: Between the wedding dress, the peacock gown, and the peach and gold embroidered frock, Julia Roberts wore over 100,000 Swarovski crystals between the three costumes, and all three dresses were handmade! Snow White’s wedding gown is definitely different than her evil stepmother’s (pictured, bottom). She wears a bright blue gown with orange sleeves and a bow, supposedly a tribute to Disney’s classic cartoon version of Snow White. (Originally, the dress was red and blue, but it apparently looked too similar…) Ishioka wanted Snow White to look like a gift to the prince and the audience, wrapped up with a bow. Eiko Ishioka never saw the final film, but the real gift was her uncanny ability to tell a story through costume. Her work was truly the “fairest of them all.”
Ah, yet another gorgeous redhead nominated this year – Amy Adams! She’s nominated for the fourth time in her terrifying role as a cult leader’s wife in The Master. Here she is attending the AFI Fest Premiere of On the Road. She’s wearing the “Sera” cocktail dress from Dolce & Gabbana. The black strapless dress has a 1950s feel with a full skirt and the adorable floral detailing, which is appropriate considering that’s the time frame of the film she’s promoting! Adams accessorized the look with yellow diamond earrings from Bulgari and black Roger Vivier “Cage” sandals. Perfect for spring, which is almost here…
This Sunday, Australian beauty Naomi Watts is nominated for her second Oscar, for her role as a mother separated from her family in the tsunami drama, The Impossible. Here she is attending the Tony Awards in 2010 for her partner, Liev Schreiber’s A View from the Bridge nomination, but she certainly isn’t just arm candy to be ignored! She’s sporting an RM by Roland Mouret Artemis mermaid gown, a Marchesa clutch and Fred Leighton jewelry. The slightly poofed sleeve, belted waist and slender skirt makes her figure look incredible. Much better than all the boring nude gowns she usually wears!