Thursday, 28 June 2012

My Top 20 Costume Designers (6-10)

The second part of my top 20 costume designers. Lots and lots of photos under the cut.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

My Top 20 Costume Designers (1 - 5)

Over the next few days I'll be posting my top 20 costume designers. Most are legendary, but I'd like to highlight a few lesser known designers whose work is particularly interesting and beautiful. I'll just post 5 at a time because of the number of photos involved, but I hope that you enjoy them. Please get in touch with your favourite costume designers!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

King Arthur Costumes

I nearly fell asleep several times while watching this film. Only the costumes, Ioan Gruffudd and Clive Owen kept me in the cinema. I'm of the old-school of Arthurian legends, and this film wanders off in a different direction. But anyway, the costumes are pretty. They were designed by Penny Rose and I found some new photos of the archer dress and the wedding dress which Keira Knightley wore. Costumersguide have lots of photos from when they were on display at exhibitions and previous sales on prop store

I also thought you might be interested in the costume maker's website - Her team have worked on many films and it's well worth looking through their gallery as the skill of the makers there is first class. Their King Arthur gallery is here.

More photos under the cut...

Monday, 25 June 2012

The Many Wedding Dresses of Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor had her fair share of weddings and I've tried to collect photographs of her 9 (she had 2 ceremonies when she married Mike Todd) wedding dresses along with a brief summary of her 8 marriages. I'll take this opportunity to recommend a fairly new-ish book,"Elizabeth Taylor: Her Life in Style" by Susan Kelly. Her fashion sense was very much hit and miss, and this book gives a good overview. I really think that she was one of the best dressed women in the 50s. But anyway, back to her weddings, all will be revealed under the image-heavy cut.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Costumes from The Last Emperor

Prop store have some costumes from The Last Emperor (1987). I thought I'd post the photos for study before they sell and get taken down. I'll play spot the costume and update this post with some screencaps when I watch the film this week.

The costumes were designed and bought by James Acheson,. Many of these pieces are antique. They are from the private collection that was kept by the producer Jeremy Thomas (who single handedly raised the $25million budget for the movie) after filming. Prop Store sorted and catalogued the incredible inventory under the guidance and in collaboration with Jim Acheson.

"A High Consort's Vintage Navy Blue Informal Robe. This beautifully crafted piece appears to have been worn by one of the Emperor's High Consorts at various points, including when Reginald Johnston (Peter O'Toole) confronts the Lord Chamberlain to allow Pu Yi to wear a set of much needed spectacles, something the High Consorts do not agree with at all. The robe was made during the Qing Dynasty, placing it over one hundred years old. The navy blue silk garment is lined with pale blue silk, and features an extensive gold couched wave border at the bottom, the sleeve bands and collar are finely embroidered with multicoloured flowers and butterflies, and the main body displays elaborate roundels depicting traditional Chinese domestic scenes. It fastens at the front using contemporary metal knot buttons added by the production and remains in superb condition for its age."

More beneath the cut...

Friday, 22 June 2012

Book Review: Sew Iconic

Sew Iconic

It's been a while since I reviewed a new book. I did something to my back after moving my piano this week (I'm not Hercules, just terribly stupid) so I was feeling a bit miserable this morning, and then this turned up in the post! I thought I'd give it a bit of airtime since I very nearly didn't buy it after reading some negative reviews. While I think that the criticisms aren't completely unjustified, I really love the book overall.

These are just my opinions, I bought the book with my own money and I'll review it completely unbiasedly. I'll also throw some not-so-brilliant phone camera photos in so you can judge for yourself. I should point out that I'm on painkillers and horizontal, so I'll either ramble or fall asleep.

Very image-heavy post, so all under a cut.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Brighton Rock (1947)

Brighton Rock Poster (1947)

Brighton Rock is based on Graham Greene's novel and I've somehow got this this point in life without seeing the film. 

The film starts with an introduction to Brighton, a lovely British seaside tourist resort about a hour or so out of London. You don't expect a criminal underworld to lurk beneath candyfloss and bunting, but we are told in the titles that it was a hotbed of dodgy goings on until the police got their act together.

'Fred' Hale (Alan Wheatley) is a journalist who arrives in Brighton for a newspaper competition. The competition involves a photo of Hale posing as "Kolly Kibber". The first person to spot him and say the appropriate phase would win a money prize. Hale had written an article about a gambling racket in Brighton which led to the death of a local mobster. The new leader of the gang, the teenage, deranged 'Pinkie' Brown (David Attenborough) and his cronies spot Hale in the paper and seek him out for revenge. Hale tries to run away from the gang but is murdered by Pinkie on a ghost train on the pier. Ida (Hermione Baddeley), an eccentric, good natured woman who had met Hale just before his death, doesn't agree with the inquest findings that Hale died due to a bad heart and eventually suspects that Pinkie drove Hale to suicide. Pinkie marries a dopey but sweet waitress called Rose (Carol Marsh) in an attempt to prevent her from disclosing evidence and destroying his alibi. Ida pursues Pinkie, trying to uncover his crime and protect Rose, despite the danger.

The story is a simple moral tale or right and wrong but with religious introspection. Pinkie and Rose are Catholic but morally bankrupt. Ida's strong belief in justice and morality is completely unrelated to any religious doctrine. Having read a biography about Graham Greene, I seem to remember how this story was a comment on how goodness is inherent in a person and not dependant upon religious affiliation.

This film is pretty much perfect from a personal point of view. I think it helped that Graham Greene was involved in writing the screenplay alongside the brilliant Terrence Rattigan, and they crafted a wonderful script with odd moments of humour. This, combined with the direction by John Boulting, makes it exemplary British film noir. Camera angles, bold lighting and shadows are used to create fear and tension. In the scenes with Pinkie, it emphasises his disturbed, frighting persona. Pinkie is the most interesting character, not being a one dimensional bad 'un but a more rounded, tormented sociopath with absolutely no redeeming features. There are some rather violent scenes but the violence is not glamourised. The coldness and silence in which it is dealt out makes it terrifying. Richard Attenborough's performance is very unnerving. It's interesting seeing his acting in this film, and comparing it with his equally brilliant portrayal of the serial killer, John Christie, in 10 Rillington Place, which was made much later in his career.

Just a few screencaps under the cut because I was a bit short on time. I hope these show give you some impression of the cinematography.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

A few old Hollywood photos

Like a magpie I was drawn to the shiny gold cover of a book called "Are the Stars Out Tonight?" which I found in a charity shop the other day. It's a history of the Ambassador Hotel and Cocoanut Grove, the haunt of Hollywood's finest. It's well out of print, but I've had a look on abebooks and there are still many reasonably priced second-hand copies available if you'd like an interesting addition to your Hollywood bookshelves. It's not a great print, it reminds me of those old film annuals from the forties, but I've scanned in a few photos I thought some of you might like.

Pola Negri (Maid of Honour), Mae Murray (Bride), Prince David Mdivani (Groom), and Rudolph Valentino (Host)

Mae Murray and the self styled "Prince" David Mdivani's wedding reception was held at the Ambassador Hotel on the 26th of June 1926. Pola Negri (far left) was the Maid of Honour, and Rudolph Valentino (far right) was the host. He lived at the hotel at the time and died a few months after this photo was taken. David Mdivani later became Mae's manager and his brother, Serge, married Pola Negri in 1927. His other brother, Alexis, married Barbara Hutton, so there are three lads who did well for themselves.

Jean Harlow and Paul Bern's wedding reception
Jean Harlow and Paul Bern's wedding reception. Jean does the honours, flanked by Irving Thalberg and his wife Norma Shearer (who seems to be hogging the photo), while the groom hides behind the cake

More under the cut