Happy New Year! For the first “Fancy Friday” of 2016 we’re featuring Gloria Swanson in her iconic role in Sunset Boulevard. She stars as a washed-up actress in Hollywood named Norma Desmond, who is slowly losing her grip on reality more and more each day. What a dazzling way to start the new year! We picked this look more for the way Norma looks in the photos below – definitely how we usually feel the day after December 31st! In the 1950 film, she throws herself a New Year’s Eve party with a full orchestra for her kept man of sorts Joe Gillis (played by William Holden). She buys him a tux, dolls herself up in this fabulous creation by costume designer Edith Head, and then informs Joe it’s just the two of them at this gala… Oh, boy. It obviously goes great – don’t worry Joe! Norma seems totally fine… Head’s outfit is the perfect analogy for Norma Desmond’s mental state: she sports a dark glamorous chiffon gown, but varying pieces of fabric are sticking out and trying to hang on (much like Norma and her career), while she saturates herself in accessories – a creepy black veil and headpiece, doused with dozens of diamonds, attempting to cover up her age and the fact that she’s done for. Her look is beautiful, but clearly crumbling. The night goes about as well as can be expected – Norma attempts to kill herself because Joe goes to a different party. Here’s hoping your new year is better than Norma’s!
The last time we featured Meg Ryan also happened to be a New Year’s Eve post – guess America’s sweetheart gets kissed a lot! In the 1989 romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally, Ryan plays an uptight New Yorker whose best friend happens to be a man (played by Billy Crystal), and the two spend years together without realizing they’re absolutely perfect for each other. The movie laid the groundwork for a lot other rom-coms, and while Meg Ryan’s clothing is preppy and pristine throughout the whole film (outfitted by costume designer Gloria Gresham), the dresses she sports are actually pretty dated. Doesn’t mean she’s any less cute in them! Here, Harry & Sally spend New Year’s Eve together, which foreshadows the importance of the holiday for them later in the movie… Our editors had trouble finding a photo of the final New Year’s scene, but we did find these cute pics from Mirror80, which did an adorable feature on Sally’s earlier NYE dress and how to update the off-the shoulder, ruffled look! Later, these two realize they’re right for each other on Dec. 31st, which is probably why this holiday is so over hyped – everyone’s waiting for a declaration of love that doesn’t come lol! Have a very Happy New Year’s anyway! <3
“Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas…” Judy Garland swoons in Meet Me in St. Louis, which ended up becoming a very popular holiday carol. What better dress to feature than Miss Garland’s gorgeous red gown from the 1944 classic for a “Fancy Friday” that landed on December 25th?! Judy Garland stars as the main sister of a large St. Louis family who attends a local Christmas ball in this stunning scarlet velvet gown. After returning home from the party, she sings the beautiful carol to her baby sister, Tootie (played by Margaret O’Brien). To be honest, I never saw the film until falling in love with the 2005 flick The Family Stone, in which oldest sister Susannah watches the movie alone on Christmas Eve. It’s a melancholy scene in both films, as both leading ladies reflect on how their next Christmases will sadly not be like their past holidays. It’s heartbreaking, but a thoughtful reminder of how seasons really do change, for better or for worse. Merry Christmas! <3
“I believe… I believe… It’s silly, but I believe.” On Thanksgiving, our editors eat turkey, watch football, pound pie, but we also always watch this 1947 classic – Miracle on 34th Street. Last month we lost one of our all-time favorite tough girls, Maureen O’Hara. In this film, she stars as Doris Walker, mother to Susan (played by the late Natalie Wood), a smart and mature little girl who doesn’t believe in Santa Claus. Doris is a no-nonsense Manhattan woman who works for Macy’s Department Store. The movie opens on the Thanksgiving Day Parade (Fun Fact: The footage in the film was actually from the 1946 Macy’s Parade! According to imdb.com, “retakes were obviously out of the question!”) An older gentlemen who looks suspiciously like Kris Kringle and a handsome lawyer (played by John Payne) try to change the two Walker ladies’ minds about Santa Claus and the Christmas spirit. It’s adorable, and much better than the horrible remake. O’Hara sports some very sophisticated clothing in the film, but this little buttoned black dress with a matching white collar and cuffs is a particular favorite of ours. Costume designer Kay Nelson outfitted the film, and did a wonderful job capturing an elegant NYC girl in the post-WWII era. Maybe our editors love it so much, since it reminds us of our own mother, who appeared in the Macy’s Day Parade 30 years later. <3
In the 1942 flick I Married A Witch, Fredric March’s character Wallace Wooley states, “Mere physical beauty isn’t everything.” That may be true, but did he even LOOK at this dress? In the classic film, Veronica Lake plays Jennifer, a Salem witch who’s been stuck in a tree for hundreds of years, until a bolt of lightning sets her spirit free! She’s put a curse on the family of the man who burned her at the stake, and after wandering around the modern world, accidentally drinks her own love potion meant for one of her enemy’s descendants! It’s the definition of a screwball comedy from that era, and an adorable one to boot! We had always pictured Veronica Lake as a tall, sultry actress, but she was barely 5’0, and the little cutie runs around this movie creating all sorts of havoc (apparently, not far off from the real life set either!) In the book Vintage Fashion, Ottilie Godfrey describes in detail how Jennifer’s infamous black dress was made: “For Lake’s wardrobe in I Married a Witch (1942), Edith Head and her fellow costume designers were allowed to use acres of extravagant fabric to enhance the actress’s glamour and help boost public morale. This black chiffon over nude silk evening dress with Guipre lace bodice detail and bishop sleeves is a perfect foil for Lake’s smoldering beauty.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Happy Halloween to all our bewitching beauties!
“There’s a little witch in all of us.” In the 1998 film Practical Magic, Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman play very close, but very different sisters that share the same secret – they’re witches! Sandra Bullock plays the “good” sister, Sally Owens, who just wants to fit in and have a normal life, while her counterpart, Gillian (played by Kidman), just wants to have fun and ignore the townspeople that have judged them for so long. Their styles are as different as they are from Day One: Sally is soft and innocent (played by a young – and still gorgeous – Camilla Belle, pictured above left), while Gillian (played by Lora Anne Criswell, pictured above right) dresses “edgy” for a kid in feathers and shear fabrics, although here she’s practically “angelic.” 😉 Besides being blessed with special powers, the Owens women all face the same curse that their ancestor Maria accidentally cast upon them: their beloved husbands tend to die! After being impregnated by a married villager in colonial times, Maria is sentenced to hang but snaps the rope with her abilities, and puts a spell on herself that she will never fall in love again. Instead the spell has more power than she realizes, and after a few centuries it’s a full-fledged curse, and all the men the Owens women love are “doomed to die.” After their father is killed, Sally and Gillian’s mother dies of a broken heart, and they are left to be raised by their crazy aunts Jet and Frances (played by the incredibly talented Stockard Channing and Dianne Wiest, pictured above and below). The aunts have a different parenting style than most, but they focus on the basics: eating dessert for breakfast, getting drunk in backyard picnics while discussing dead boyfriends, and making their nieces wildly uncomfortable (HELL YES!) The aunts also dress like freaking queens: they love lots of over sized accessories, BIG hats, long necklaces, antiquated parasols and luxurious fabrics. As the movie progresses, the writer hints the aunts don’t age, so it’s hard to guess what time period they’re dressing from… jewelry from the turn of the century, dainty lace gloves from the 50s, exotic silks from the orient, and embroidery from the 19th century… maybe ALL of the decades they have lived through! Aside from being fiercely stylish, they also teach the girls to hone their craft. Even at a young age, it’s clear Sally is the more naturally-gifted witch, but as the girls grow up, it’s Sally who wants to hide her talents, while Gillian wants to be noticed for who they really are. After the Owens sisters grow up, Sally stays in town, gets married to a nice local boy (who unfortunately meets the same untimely demise as her dad), has babies and opens a botanical shop, while Gillian takes off for an “exotic” lifestyle (really just drugs, bad parties and terrible boyfriends…) After one of Gillian’s beaus beats her and then attempts to kill her, Sally accidentally poisons him and the sisters are forced back together to try and cover up his murder! (Or bring him back to life… Whichever plan works first!) The film was costumed by Judainna Makovsky, the extremely talented visionary who brought The Hunger Games to life onscreen. The movie was made in 1998, and while you can recognize some of the 90s fashion, Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman wear the clothes so well, it makes us want to break out our middle school wardrobes! (Although, my long floral skirts and cropped sweaters did not look that cute…) Since the Owens women are sorceresses of the earth, it makes sense that they wear clothing indicative of their natures: Sally is light and pure, while Gillian is dark and mysterious (much like their aunts, too). Sally wears beautiful, subtle florals, while Gillian wears rich earth tones. Both styles are bewitching in completely different fashions. Historically, witches of the same family supposedly do not look like each other, which is why the filmmakers chose Bullock and Kidman, who look nothing alike (same for Channing and Wiest). But their opposite hair colors also tell a tale: Sally’s warm, chocolate locks fit her girl-next-door sweetness, while Gillian’s fiery red indicates her wild personality. After the aunts decide to leave, and let the younger Owens sisters solve their own problems (the not-so-dead, abusive boyfriend might be back from the grave?!), Sally and Gillian have to make some major decisions. A gorgeous sheriff (played by the impossibly cute Aidan Quinn – just look at those eyes, pictured below) investigating Jimmy’s disappearance rolls into town and for some reason, Sally can’t lie to him – or about her true self any longer! Gillian tries to get rid of Officer Gary Hallet with her adorable nieces (pictured, above) who also have opposite hair hues. (Fun Fact: A very young Evan Rachel Wood plays Sally’s oldest girl!) But the daughters soon realize Sally cast a spell for the perfect man as a little girl, and the sheriff fits every item on her list! Now it’s time for the Owens women to all stick together, banish the curse and save Sally from herself! Sally’s hair tells another tale, too… it shows her character arc: her hair starts out straight, and the more she accepts herself, the wavier her locks get. It’s a subtle metaphor for the sweet witch – she’s been trying to conform her whole life, but when she eventually admits who she is and how she really feels, she lets the true Sally show. Gillian’s style also changes throughout the duration of the film – it starts out a little skanky, but by the end, she’s wearing more conservative and sophisticated clothing (pictured, left). Both sisters, however different they are, rub off on each other in good ways, but they are always strongest when they are together!
In this bewitching edition of “Fancy Friday,” we’re showcasing Miss Lena Duchannes (played by Alice Englert) in Beautiful Creatures. The box office bomb debuted on this editor’s birthday (Valentine’s Day), and she absolutely loved the 2013 flick! Based on the novel of the same name, it tells the story of an ordinary boy who falls for an extraordinary girl. Set in the deep south, the two fall in love, while spending copious amounts of time cracking sardonic jokes and reading lots of books – I mean, what’s not to like? The characters also wear some killer clothes! Without revealing too much, this scene happens to be the climax of the film, and Miss Duchannes sports this mystical ballgown. Costume designer Jeffrey Kurland explained to Entertainment Weekly, “I designed the top of the gown as a man’s shirt might look, open and loose, which I felt was more her style.” The open shoulders on the belted corset, paired with the grays and lavenders in her layered skirt create a mesmerizing look. These photos don’t even do the dress justice – you have to see the film to really appreciate it! It’s also the outfit Lena wears when she finally learns to stand on her own and defend herself; and there’s no better accessory than STRENGTH!
“God knows all the money in the world can’t buy good taste,” Miss Fiona Goode, aka “The Supreme,” sharply stated. The style that marches across the screen in American Horror Story: Coven is absolutely breathtaking. There are so many strong female leads on this show with distinctive styles, we could have dedicated a whole “Witch Week” to each of them! Season Three of AHS tells the tale of small, private all-girls’ school in New Orleans called Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies. But this isn’t your ordinary finishing school – it’s a secret academy for witches! The headmistress is the quiet, bookish Cordelia Foxx, whose mother happens to be The Supreme. Fiona Goode, played by the marvelous Jessica Lange, is the most powerful witch of her generation. Despite the fact she’s dying of cancer, Fiona’s not ready to surrender her title just yet… So let’s start with the queen bee: Since Fiona has been top dog since she was a teen, she’s definitely established her own strong sense of style. Rarely seen in anything but black, she is always decked out in dark, designer duds. We featured Fiona’s field trip outfit as a “Look-of-the-Day” earlier this week. Costume designer Lou Eyrich spoke with Entertainment Weekly about her work and Miss Lange’s look on Season 3 of AHS, “Last season, she had to wear a nun’s habit almost the entire time. So for her to get to start wearing Givenchy and Gucci and Lanvin shoes and Prada boots – it was so fun to watch the transformation. Jessica quite loved wearing all those wonderful clothes.” Even though Fiona’s powers are waning, she doesn’t sugarcoat the truth about her selfish reign, as she laments, “All that power… I just took it, poured it back into myself, and dressed it up in Chanel.” Damn straight. Miss Goode is usually only out for herself, but she does give the girls the best style/witch advice on the show before their little outing: “WEAR SOMETHING BLACK.” As for the students, people have been witch-hunting for centuries, so the school’s population is pretty small – in fact, there’s only four students! The wonderful website, Worn On TV, did a flat-out amazing job of collecting each of the witches’ wardrobes. It’s where our editors were able to find out where many of the characters’ outfits were from! First, there’s Nan, played by Jamie Brewer (pictured, above). She can read thoughts, which can give her some overwhelming headaches. Her signature look is usually a white and black or navy dress with a Peter Pan collar. Our favorite frock of hers is pictured in the photo below, where she’s wearing a Nitcha Bow Collar Dress by Ted Baker. The new girl in town is Zoe Benson (played by Taissa Farmiga), whose special power is… screwing her boyfriends to death. To be honest, her clothing isn’t remotely as interesting as her special skills, but the girl can certainly rock a hat (pictured, below left)! One of the most fascinating recruits is Madison Montgomery, played by Emma Roberts (pictured, below right). She is a famous movie star, but also happens to be a Salem descendant, and instead of going to rehab, her agent decides to send her to the witch academy. Despite being a diminutive girl, Madison can be downright terrifying, and since she’s a wealthy actress, it makes sense she’s got a closet full of couture, who also agrees with our opinions on Zoe’s duds (pictured, above right). Madison dresses like a little tart in the beginning (pictured, above left), but as the show goes on, her clothing becomes more conservative, yet still retains its LA flair. In the group photo pictured above, Madison wears a gorgeous mink hat and maxi dress by Free People called, what else, “Witchy Woman.” Our favorite dress of hers is the square-neck A-line little black dress by Herve Leger (pictured, left). Paired with the black headband, knee socks and cocktail in-hand, she looks like a sexy witch ready to take on the world. But her most popular look was probably her infamous red dress of “Surprise, bitch” fame (pictured, above right). The ruffled red frock is called the high-low “Fais” long halter dress by BCBG MAXAZRIA. Madison wears this label quite frequently throughout the series, including the electric blue “Gemma” T-back dress (pictured, above left with Jamie Brewer) and the white “Diana” fitted dress on her night out on the town with Fiona (pictured, below) she wears with Steve Madden Spycee platform sandals. After Madison’s “transformation,” of sorts, she keeps herself much more covered or shielded, usually by a fantastic fur. The last student is Queenie, played by Oscar nominee Gabby Sidibe (pictured, below center), who is probably one of the funniest girls on the show, but she doesn’t get to sport of lot of great outfits (although we’re loving this black number below!) She’s a poor, overweight girl from Detroit, and both intellectually and powerfully above her peers, so she’s bit of a loner. When Queenie comes to New Orleans, she thinks she’ll finally fit in, but now she’s just surrounded by privileged white girls (even if they’re outcasts in their own right), and it seems nothing has changed for her. Even after coming to an academy of her own, Queenie still has trouble finding her “tribe,” just like the random side character who enters the students’ lives named Misty Day, played by Lily Rabe (pictured, below). This little swamp witch has the power of resurgence, and a 24/7 obsession with Stevie Nicks. Personally, she was this editor’s favorite character originally. This lovely, poor hippie was burned to “death” by her own family of religious fanatics, but little did they realize she could bring herself back with magic and some mud from the swamp! Despite being broke and living in a secluded one-room cabin, Misty Day certainly has her style staples: maxi dresses (mostly by Free People), lots of fringe and florals, layered necklaces, big belts, and many skinny scarves. Along with her signature wavy hair, her bohemian look matches perfectly to her free spirit and earthy vibes. Our other favorite lady of AHS Coven, Myrtle Snow, sums Misty up perfectly: “You miss the point darling,the swamp mud is a metaphor, her metaphor, she’s a sophisticated witch with extraordinary gifts, hiding out as a hippie swamp rat.” The other blonde mentor of the academy is Headmistress Cordelia Foxx, played by Sarah Paulson (pictured, left & above). Cordelia lives in the shadow her all-powerful mother, Fiona, but after suffering a personal tragedy, is able to see things she could never see before. Cordelia dresses the way you would picture a stylish 1940s heroine would dress – she’s usually sporting conservative, high-waisted pants, long-sleeved silk tops, large floral prints, lovely lace and she almost always accessorizes every look with a strand of pearls. At first glance, Cordelia seems to be the complete opposite of her mother, but the two probably wear the most designer pieces on the show. Cordelia’s printed blossom skirt (pictured, above) is Dolce & Gabanna, while the character also gets to wear Elie Tahari, Valentino and Ted Baker in other scenes. Mrs. Foxx is lovely, but she’s nowhere as interesting as her mother, or the following queens… Next up is the ageless Marie Laveau, played by the ageless Angela Bassett (seriously, her skin is insane.) Miss Laveau (pictured, above) is Fiona’s archenemy, the immortal voodoo priestess across town. She is flat-out fierce, and Bassett is a goddamn dream. Her tribe and Fiona’s tribe have been fighting for centuries, but they’re putting the truce aside to cause more trouble (especially after Fiona insults her in her own shop!) Marie has been alive for hundreds of years, currently hiding out as a beauty shop owner, but her true passion is fighting for civil rights (and voodoo, obviously). She’s got long, gorgeous braids and has retained most of her early fashion statements – Marie still rocks head-wraps, floor-length dresses and lots of big jewelry, including hoop earrings, long necklaces, cocktail rings and arm bands, but has adapted them to modern fashion. This editor had a friend who summed up the power struggle between Fiona and Marie as Lange and Bassett’s acting as “just cutting up the screen.” Dead-on, we could watch these witches for weeks! Their fight to stay on top keeps the story line mysterious and interesting. Last, but definitely not last, is the most fashion-forward witch of the week (and possibly history?!) – Miss Myrtle Snow (pictured, below). Played by the magnificent Frances Conroy, Myrtle is the Head of the Witches Council, and Fiona Goode’s former foe. In the EW article referenced earlier, costumer Lou Eyrich stated, “Ryan wanted her to be a cross between Diana Vreeland and Grace Coddington. It was fun. My team and I spread out across town in New Orleans looking for maxi dresses and capes and gloves and kooky glasses. Watching Franny transform into Myrtle Snow was a highlight.” They certainly achieved the look, cause when Myrtle first appeared onscreen, all I could think of was the amazing frizzy-haired editor in the Vogue documentary, The September Issue! (Myrtle and Grace have the same big hair, and seem to play second-fiddle to the stars in both their industries… the similarities don’t end there, either! Both ladies have eclectic styles, and retain the most sophisticated, all-knowing air about them, while being unfailingly polite. This editor could write for days about both of them!) In Coven, Myrtle Snow started out as the studious, good girl at Miss Robichaux’s, but has since transformed, so much so that even her former schoolgirl nemesis Fiona snarkily says, “Look at you, developing a sense of style when no one else was paying attention.” With her signature hair and designer frocks, Myrtle always dons her winged cat-eye glasses and long gloves, along with several other vintage pieces. She also has some very important fashion lessons for her bewitching ladies (like the one pictured, above right), and we featured her mini-unrequited love story/history of the wrap dress earlier this week on “Words on Fashion.” Here are some of our other favorite Myrtle style quotes and lessons:
- “I’m just MAD for tartan!”
- “I’d rather burn, than boil.”
- “Your tasteful modesty is out of fashion, so knock it off.”
- “You could never pull it off, dear.”
- “Your weak-willed, boring and your fashion faux pas give me nightmares.”
- “Listen to the celestial tones.”
- “You’re just like Halston when he sold his brand to J.C. Penney. You’ve forsaken your destiny.”
- “Look at me, I’m fabulous.”
- “Don’t be a hater, dear.”
- And, of course, “BALENCIAGA!“
If you haven’t seen AHS Coven please be aware, SPOILER ALERT AHEAD! Costume designer Lou Eyrich spoke of Myrtle’s infamous last words and look with Collider last year, “That was a big deal, because in the script she comes out in a red dress and says ‘Balenciaga!’ so we all thought it had to be Balenciaga. We started researching, and we realized we couldn’t afford a Balenciaga dress, because we have a small budget. So Ryan said, it’s not literal, she’s just saying it as a crazy Myrtle thing, a Myrtle-ism. Then we were able to grind it out, and we actually searched town. But everything wasn’t eccentric enough for Myrtle, and then we went online and actually my shopper, Bob, found it online and it was the perfect thing, and it’s a Carolina Herrera. There was a lot of the stuff in the press saying, ‘That’s not a Balenciaga dress.’ But it was never meant to be.” Honestly, it’s the perfect explanation for Myrtle’s whole ironic character arc, and probably the most memorable scene of the show. Early on AHS Coven, Fiona Goode asks the mirror, “Who’s the baddest witch in town?” Honestly, it’s hard to say with this list of rock stars listed above, but always remember, “BALENCIAGAAAAAAA!!”
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.
“Are you a good witch or a bad witch?” Glinda asks Dorothy, upon her arrival in the wonderful world of Oz. Who else would we feature on “Pink Wednesday” than the most famous good witch of all? Billie Burke played the witch of the north in the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz, and dons an enormous soft pink, sparkling ballgown, with poofed sleeves and a matching crown and scepter. The film’s costume designer was the legendary Adrian. When Dorothy is surprised at how lovely Glinda is, she responds, “Only bad witches are ugly.” In The Wizard of OZ FAQ, by David J. Hogan, our editors were shocked to learn Glinda’s gown was featured previously in the movie, San Francisco (1936) on Jeanette MacDonald. Hogan also mentioned that Billie Burke once joked of her costume, “I look like a refugee from German opera.” Burke wasn’t far off, but it’s a cinematic look that has gone down in history. Good thing no one dropped a house on this dress!