Rosalind Russell wore this soft grey georgette evening dress with cross-draped bodice, for The Velvet Touch.
[Proving that nostalgia is nothing new…]
You are forgiven if you think the pictures on these pages are fashion circa 1971. In a sense, they are; but in fact, these are original Hollywood – the clothes of the stars, people like Bette Davis, Katherine Hepburn, Olivia de Havilland, Jean Seberg, Shirley Temple — worn in their films, coming up for a gala auction at Sotheby’s Pantechnicon in Motcomb Street at 7pm on December 1.
The man who made it possible is Michael Fish — Mr Fish, no less — who bought the whole collection of 30s, 40s and 50s creations from Max Berman & Son of Hollywood, and is putting them to auction in aid of Immigrant Community Services. So you could help to provide a new children’s playground in Brixton, say, while treating yourself to a great fashion original . . . like Jane Russell’s navy pleated chiffon coat over crepe culottes ; Bonita Granville’s pink chiffon dress with Alencon lace and fine pleating; not to mention the original mini worn by Betty Hutton in Annie Get Your Gun.
Patrick Procktor is contributing to the programme for Mr Fish’s ‘frock fantasy’. Ossie Clark’s sensational model, Gala, will wear some of the clothes, as she did for us in company with Barbara Trentham. Make-up here by Barbara Daly; hair by Smile; location, Mr Paul Hamlyn’s house.
Harpers and Queen, December 1971. Photographs by Tim Street-Porter
Square-shouldered 40s suits, as worn by Maureen O’Hara and Ginger Rogers.
Agnes Moorehead starred in this vampy black crepe dress with sequins and a matching shoulder cape fastened with jet.
There are a few boutiques, Alkasura and Che Guevara included, whose work is painfully abugly. Flat feet are not sexy and elegant.”
Hollywood Clothes Shop sounds like it was one of the best examples of those playfully indulgent Boutique interiors at the time, although its brevity of existence means that there’s not a lot of imagery to correlate with the descriptions of old cinema seats, and the mannequins, paintings and photographs of movie stars. So I was rather delighted to spot some delicious photos of Edina Ronay sporting some of the frocks in the boutique itself. Thank heavens for the ‘Vogue’s Own Boutique’ feature. From February 1971.
Here, Edina Ronay stars in clothes from the new Hollywood Clothes Shop, on Hollywood Road, where else? Zipped plaid jacket, below, 14 gns (£14.70). Stylish crepe and sparkling sequin cocktail suit of deep claret, 12 gns (£12.60), with turban of wrapped velvet and snakeskin, with authentic pin, 8gns (£8.40).
I generally assume that, were I around in the Thirties, I would probably be Claudette Colbert. She’s now facing some tough competition from the gorgeous Hollywood clothes-horse Kay Francis. Mainly for her wardrobe, but I love her hair as well.
It seems bizarrely appropriate that while I’m currently surrounded by finger waves, sequins, tulle and ballet shoes that the phenomenal Cyd Charisse should pass away. She began her career with the Ballet Russes, a training which would come in handy for working with the likes of Gene Kelly when she found success in Hollywood.
“If I was black and blue,” she said, “it was Gene. And if it was Fred, I didn’t have a scratch.”
Like most people, I was borderline obsessed with her segment from Singing in the Rain and that spectacular green pseudo-flapper dress she wore. Who wouldn’t want legs that long, or a face that sultry and oh such beautiful hair? I also realised I was obsessed -as a child- with a photo that my film-loving Uncle (kudos to him for having given me a life-long obsession with the Hollywood classics!) had, amongst many others, of Charisse and Astaire hanging on his wall.
I have little more to say, because it’s all been said. So I’ll leave you with a few more favourite pictures and mourn the loss of yet another classy, glamorous lady. We have so few left these days……