I absolutely adore the glamour of Hollywood in first half of the century but the stand out decade for me has to be the 1930s. This truly is the “golden age” and when film and fashion were in perfect synchronicity. The 30s is often recognized as the decade when Hollywood was dominating fashion rather than Paris, this had a lot to do with the audience at the time. So many more women were able to see films in the cinema than ever were able to see them in the Paris salons. Fashion was openiing up to new aucdieces and people were really able to understand how fashions moved and actually looked on bodies rather than seeing them in static form in fashion magazines. Interestingly it was Schiaparelli (one of my all time favourite designers) who was the first couturier to recognise the influence of film on fashion.
One of the most famous stars of the decade was Joan Crawford. Crawford appeared in numerous films throughout the 30s but the film she is probably best known for is Letty Lynton. The film is incredibly rare with few original recordings left. This is mostly due to the fact that the film was banned in the 30s as the plot following too closely to the play “a dishonoured lady” .The film also has some of the most sensational costumes of the decade.
The designs were by Gilbert Adrian , probably the most respected film costume designer of the 1930s. He later went on to design the costumes for the wizard of Oz, which he is probably best known for.
The costumes throughout the film are typical of early 30s Hollywood glamour. Crawford wears a number of slinky bias cut dresses and also luxurious mink fur coats. The character she plays is a socialite so the clothes really helped to embody this stylish New Yorker.
The dress the film is probably best known for is widely known as the “Letty Lynton dress”. The dress, a design by Adrian, was made from white cotton organdie. The department store Macy’s soon copied the gown and over half a million copies of the dress were sold across the U.S. (This figure is wideley debated, just to warn. Sometimes you see it as 50,000 and sometimes half a million. Although, I have seen it mostly stated as half a million)
The styling of this dress was very modern at the time, and helped to usher in the new shape of the “romantic” 30s with its puffed sleeves and full skirt. I’m just waiting for my new 30s dress (green and white silk check) to arrive which is definitely inspired by the infamous Letty dress!
All of these images come from www.legendaryjoancrawford.com a wonderful website for anything related to the star.