Movie Time: Ninotchka (1939)

I’ve got another Garbo film for ya! The lovely Greta is cast as a Russian again (as she was in Grand Hotel) in her one and only comedy AND penultimate film, Ninotchka. It’s set in Paris where a trio of Russians are trying to sell the jewels belonging to a Grand Duchess. The Soviet citizens begin to rather enjoy the capitalist lifestyle and start to neglect their mission, getting drunk and enjoying the company of three French maids. That is until Ninotchka turns up. Ninotchka is a dedicated communist with a slightly robot manner of speaking. She has no sense of humour and is concerned with the technical details of life.

greta garbo ninotchka

Luckily there’s a man who can defrost her Russian heart. At first she’s having none of it but eventually she loosens up, drinks some champagne and starts spreading communist propaganda in the powder room. It’s not easy courting Ninotchka.

When the film first came out the posters parodied the tagline of her first talkie, Anna Christie. “Garbo Talks!” became “Garbo Laughs!”.

greta garbo ninotchka

I laughed too. There’s some brilliant dry wit in this film. You only have to take a look at the IMDB quotes page for Ninotchka to see how brilliantly funny the dialogue is. It makes me sad that Greta Garbo only made one more film after this. I would have liked to have seen her do more roles that diverted from her usual repertoire. Rating: 8/10

greta garbo ninotchka

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Adrian – Costume Designer

After enjoying the fashion in Grand Hotel I was curious about the designer behind the costumes. It turns out a rather prolific designer made the gowns in that film. He was known simply as Adrian and born in 1903. He started out at the New York School for Fine and Applied Arts and later went to study at the Paris campus of his college. There he was asked by Irving Berlin to design costumes for Berlin’s Music Box Revue.

Adrian got his first break in Hollywood after being hired by Rudolph Valentino’s wife to design costumes for The Sainted Devil in 1924 (a lost film).

rudolph valentino costume adrian

In 1928 he moved from Paramount to MGM, where he stayed for the rest of his career, designing costumes for over 200 films. He made costumes for many of Greta Garbo’s films including Queen Christina, Anna Christie and Anna Karenina.

greta garbo anna christie

Do a Google Image Search for Joan Crawford and you’ll be flooded with pictures of her in floor-length gowns. Pick any one and chances are Adrian designed it since he made costumes for 28 of her films. She was a stunning model…

joan crawford

joan crawford adrian

Saucy!

He also dressed Jean Harlow in the sexy bias-cut wonders she was famous for.

jean harlow adrian

Katharine Hepburn’s gown in The Philadelphia Story is also an Adrian creation.

katharine hepburn adrian

But his most famous costumes are undoubtedly those in The Wizard of Oz!

wizard of oz adrian

wizard of oz ruby slippers adrian

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Style alert: Joan Crawford and Greta Garbo in Grand Hotel (1932)

I watched this film because Greta Garbo is in it but I’m afraid Joan stole the show in this film. I thought that Greta Garbo overacted a bit and sometimes her accent was so heavy I didn’t know what she was saying.

Although Joan Crawford spends the whole film in the same dress, it’s chic enough to not matter. The hat is just gorgeous too.

joan crawford grand hotel

 

joan crawford grand hotel

 

Beautiful hair as well.

joan crawford grand hotel

 

Greta is my current classic Hollywood girl crush. She’s so beautiful it hurts! In Grand Hotel she plays a Russian ballerina and spends most of the time moping around in her room. Hence there’s not a lot of fashion to behold. Hair and make-up is great though.

There’s the dressing gown.

greta garbo grand hotel

 

The tutu…

greta garbo grand hotel

 

And the coat…

greta garbo grand hotel

 

The film itself I’d give a 7 out of 10. I’ve seen better.

 

In praise of 1930s trousers

katharine hepburn pantsmarlene dietrich, pants

These two ladies knew that there’s nothing like a good pair of trousers. Since I’m currently recovering from a knee injury, I decided to swap my skinny jeans for some palazzo trousers. Honestly, I don’t know why everyone isn’t wearing them. It’s like the glamour of wearing a swishy maxi skirt but you can still knee attackers in the groin!

In current fashion, the palazzo style seems to be a recurrent sub-trend, with only the most experimental giving the look a go. But I’m telling you, THIS has to stop:

eliza doolittle skinny jeans

Because THIS is awesome:

palazzo pants

“Did I bring a plus one? Why yes, my pants.”

Style alert: Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday (1953)

The off duty princess look. Simple, comfortable and elegant.

audrey hepburn, roman holiday

First time pin curls…

Yesterday I decided to have a go at pin curls. I rounded up all the bobby pins I could find and checked out a few tutorials. With Rita Hayworth’s flowing curls in mind, I set to work curling and pinning. Hmm…this turned out to be less simple than I thought….

pin curls

Tip 1: always use a mirror when curling xD

So I did my best to rectify the situation, adding another thousand pins to tame the unruly ends. My hair takes ages to dry so I ended up spending the best part of a day like this and then sleeping with them in too.

Sleeping with the pins in wasn’t actually as painful as a thought it would be. They also stayed in place over night. In the morning I unpinned, expecting strange results.

pin curl

More of a pin wave than a pin curl

And then I brushed…

pin curls

It’ll do!

I wasn’t quite sure what I make of it at first but considering the state of my pinning in the first picture, I think it turned out ok. But practise makes perfect!

Schiaparelli x Dalí

salvador dali, elsa schiaparelli, 1930s

In the 30s Elsa Schiaparelli collaborated with Salvador Dalí on a number of designs.

schiaparelli, dali, hat

The Shoe Hat, part of a 1937/38 collection, was based on a picture his wife Gala had taken of him with a slipper balanced on his head.

schiaparelli, dali, lobster

The Lobster Dress, also made in 1937.

skeleton dress, schiaparelli, dali

The Skeleton Dress from the 1938 Circus Collection with padded ribs and spine.

tears, schiaparelli, dali

The Tears Dress from the same Circus Collection. The dress is supposed to look like inside out torn animal flesh with the fur falling through the tears. I appreciate that this was made 80 years before Lady Gaga’s meat dress but even in this century it’s certainly not going to go down well at your grandma’s birthday party. I’ll stick with polka dots for now.