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!
“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
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!
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!
Since theSkinnyStiletto was an a bit of a hiatus last year, we missed one of our favorite events – the Met Costume Gala! The theme last year was “Charles James: Beyond Fashion.” He was considered America’s first couturier, so many attendees showed up in, what else, couture! One of our favorite girls, the legendary Sarah Jessica Parker, showed up in a show-stopping black and white ballgown. Created by Oscar de la Renta (check out his signature in red on the back), the gown features a fitted black bodice adorned with white buttons, a full gleaming skirt and a geometric black and white windowpane train. SJP accessorized the look with white evening gloves, and a big, glamorous up-do filled with flowers! Sadly, the 1st anniversary Mr. de la Rena’s death passed earlier this week, and we found a touching tribute Sarah wrote about her dear friend. Fun Fact: It was Sarah’s idea to put Oscar’s signature on the back of the dress! She improves everything!
In featuring Oscar-nominated film costumes this week, we had to come up with a gown for “Fancy Friday.” While scrolling through past nominees, we forgot Raiders of the Lost Ark was nominated for Best Picture in 1981! It probably isn’t the first film that comes to mind for glamorous outfits, but Indiana Jones’ love interest gets to wear some beautiful clothing. Karen Allen plays Marion Ravenwood, a spunky bartender/journalist/adventurer who Harrison Ford’s character falls for in the Steven Spielberg film. A sassy, blue-eyed, brown-haired tomboy that gets to run around Egypt and Europe with the sexiest archaeologist known to man? As a child, I pretty much wanted to be her when I grew up. (I got to do most of that, but I’ve yet to find a historian that happens to look like Harrison Ford… Or fight Nazis lol.) At the climax of the film, Marion sports a beautiful creamy white satin gown (technically a nightgown) while she gets kidnapped by the villains. Beforehand, she and Indy do get to spend some downtime together though… 😉 Costume designer Deborah Nadoolman told TheRaider.net, “Karen Allen’s character was hard to get right. It was tough to transition a self reliant trousered tomboy into a glamorous wench who could wear a white tulle gown followed by a very bare white bias cut satin slip.” Well, we think she nailed it! In the film’s fourth installment, the two characters cross paths again, and when Marion tells Indiana there must have been other women, he tells her they all had the same problem: “They weren’t you, honey.”
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.
Today’s “Look-of-the-Day” also happens to be our 2014 Grammy Rundown, because it’s the only dress we liked at this year’s music awards. In years past, we’ve mentioned that the Grammy Awards are our least favorite red carpet event, since it seems stars just try to outdo each other in the trashy department. Too low, too short, too shiny, and usually way too see-through, this year’s outfits were probably the worst in a very long time, considering last year was actually not that bad. While Taylor Swift isn’t our favorite celeb, she was certainly the girl with our favorite dress on last night. The pop star donned a short-sleeved silver Gucci mesh gown that E! said resembled “chainmail.” The dress was both edgy and sophisticated, while her glamorous ponytail and makeup topped off the whole look.
Today, our First Lady, Michelle Obama turns 50! She looks absolutely amazing for her age, and as one of our favorite style icons, we’ve chosen our favorite gown of hers to feature on her birthday. She wore an absolutely stunning sequined gown by Peter Soronen at the Governor’s Ball in 2009. The gunmetal color looked absolutely incredible, especially when she accessorized it with a pair of black heels, and a gorgeous Tom Binns necklace (plus having the President on your arm! 😉 ) It was the first red carpet event for the First Couple, and it certainly made an impression! Happy Birthday Michelle!
This “Fancy Friday” is our very own First Lady. Michelle Obama stunned in a floor-length custom Marchesa gown at the 2013 Kennedy Center Honors last month. With President Obama by her side, in a sharp tux, the two looked glamorous and happy strolling through the holiday-decorated hall. The off-the-shoulder dress showcased the First Lady’s most famous asset – those strong arms, and the emerald jewel tone looked flawless against her complexion. It’s hard to believe the FLOTUS will be 50 this month – she looks amazing!