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"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing...kissing a lot. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls."
Audrey Hepburn

Friday, October 21, 2016

Movies That Shaped My Style: The Women (1939)

Movies have always been my chief inspiration, when it comes to style. And there are a few films that I can truly say 'shaped' my taste in that regard. I thought it might be worthwhile to include a few words about those films occasionally here and on my Youtube Channel.

The one that is foremost in my mind is 1939's The Women, directed by George Cukor.

It's one of those movies that I enjoyed as a kid, because I always like the fashionable aspect of it and the witty one-liners. As an adult, I also identify with the female empowerment of it, although some might disagree with that notion. I personally feel that it taught some valuable lessons about humility, endurance, and hope.

The Movie:

Mary Haines (Norma Shearer) is a society lady who leads what many feel to be a 'charmed life'. She is known in her community as one of the upper class 'elite' and seems from the outset to have it all..the perfect marriage, the perfect daughter, lots of friends, and scads of money. However, when catty gal-pal Sylvia Fowler (Rosalind Russell) hears a nasty rumor involving Mr Haines, Mary's friends suddenly seem all too glad to see her fall from grace. As the rumors circulate, build, and gain momentum-Mary must decide if her pride is more important than her marriage, and whether preserving her dignity is worth the loss of all she holds dear.

The story is simple, and one we've seen played out many times since...but never in quite this way. The black and white cinematography is crisp and stylish, focusing on details only women will truly appreciate. No men are present anywhere in the film; we don't even hear their voices or see them walking on the street. This little touch provides a mood and atmosphere that isn't obvious at first, but eventually proves to be the most important aspect of the story-telling itself. We begin to see how this priviledged world looked through the eyes of its females, and how modern society at the time influenced their behavior. The interior sets are painstakingly specific, drawing attention to the tastes and attitudes of each leading lady, and the full-color fashion show at a pivotal point in the story provides an even more impressive landscape to stage the scene.

The cast could not have been chosen better. Rosalind Russell is comically evil; Joan Crawford purrs and claws her way across the screen with a subtlety that I never knew she possessed; Paulette Goddard provides the sexy spunk that really set the standard for similar roles of the time. Supporting performances by Lucille Watson as Mary's wise and understanding mother, Virginia Weidler as the heart-broken little Mary, and Phyllis Povah as Sylvia's simple-minded side-kick are also standout, bringing the screenplay brilliantly to life. Although Joan Fontaine's portrayal is syrupy-sweet at times, and the story could potentially wear a little thin due to the fact that the second 'act' is a pretty drastic change of pace, this is a movie that never fails to improve with repeat viewings.

My rating: 10/10


Fashionistically-speaking, this is one of the world's best. The designs by Adrian are memorable, to say the least, and really showcase the avant-garde look of his creations without overshadowing the players. Specific looks will always stand out to me. This blouse, for instance, worn by Sylvia during an early scene in the film, broadcasts without words her personal style and demeanor.

Adrian's designs were a great mix of new and classic. They brought to the forefront of fashion a kooky mentality that was a welcome respite from the stern drama of the 1930's.

In The Women, Adrian paid special attention to the characters he was dressing, making sure to give them an elegant feel without forgetting that sex-appeal and comedy were also key players.

He reserved his more bold designs in the film for the spectacular full-color fashion show, which boasted ensembles suitable for both day and evening events.

This beach jacket could be irresistible or off-putting, depending on who you are. It features a realistic human hand at the closure- holding a rose, no less.

Make sure to look up more of Adrian Greenburg's luscious designs, which are quintessential fashion examples of the decade. His life was relatively short, but he made a solid mark on Hollywood and the fashion world, as well as an undeniable impression on my own style choices and love of all-things-novelty.

Til Next Time...


Jocie C Kelton said...

Love it! Caught this for the first time while on vacation accidentally, and was mezmorized by the fashion! Thanks for sharing, I'll have to give it a second watch now with your point of view in mind.

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