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Posts Tagged ‘Alfred Hitchcock’

 

American movie actress Grace Kelly (1929-1982) had an encounter with a “Bust Inspector” during the production of the 1954 film Rear WindowHowever, this “BI” was not a censor dispatched by the Motion Pictures Production Code crew (See “Elizabeth Taylor and the Bust Inspector.”) The person attempting to meddle with Grace’s bust was none other than the film’s director: Alfred Hitchcock. Grace recalled: 

“At the rehearsal for the scene in Rear Window when I wore a sheer nightgown, Hitchcock called for [Paramount costume designer] Edith Head. He came over here and said, ‘Look, the bosom is not right, we’re going to have to put something in there.’ He was very sweet about it; he didn’t want to upset me, so he spoke quietly to Edith.

 When we went into my dressing room and Edith said, ‘Mr. Hitchcock is worried because there’s a false pleat here. He wants me to put in falsies.’ Well, I said, ‘You can’t put falsies in this, it’s going to show and I’m not going to wear them.’ And she said, ‘What are we going to do?’

 So we quickly took it up here, made some adjustments there, and I just did what I could and stood as straight as possible – without falsies. When I walked out onto the set Hitchcock looked at me and at Edith and said, ‘See what a difference they make?'”

Grace Kelly wears a silky negligee in a movie still from the 1954 murder-mystery, “Rear Window.” Costume designer Edith Head recalled Kelly giggling upon spotting her reflection in the mirror. “Why, I look like a peach parfait!” she said.

Readers: For more on Grace Kelly (Princess Grace of Monaco), click here.

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American actress Grace Kelly looks over her shoulder in Hollywood, California, March 1954. In April 1956, Kelly married Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, and became Her Serene Highness the Princess of Monaco. (“Grace Kelly: Floating on Chiffon,” Lisa’s History Room)

I was so excited to read in Vanity Fair that London’s Victoria & Albert Museum was featuring an exhibition of Grace Kelly‘s clothes. What a treat! I thought. Imagine all those beautiful 1950s dresses designed for actress Grace Kelly (1929-1982) together in one place. Of course I couldn’t get to London, I knew; I was recovering from spine surgery and we were building an addition to our house.

But what did that matter? I had my computer. With a few keystrokes and mouse clicks, I could cyber fashion stroll. I just assumed the V & A Museum would put the collection online as they had done with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert‘s jewelry collection. (See “Victoria & Albert: Art & Love & Teeth”)

I jumped to the museum website and found the exhibition: “Grace Kelly: Style Icon.” I got even happier after I read the promising blurb:

“Featuring dresses from her films including ‘High Society’ and ‘Rear Window,’ as well as the gown she wore to accept her Oscar in 1955, the display will examine Grace Kelly’s glamorous Hollywood image and enduring appeal.

It will also explore the evolution of her style as Princess Grace of Monaco, from the outfit she wore to her first meeting with Prince Rainier in 1955 to her haute couture gowns of the 1960s and ’70s by her favourite couturiers Dior, Balenciaga, Givenchy and Yves St Laurent.”

But much to my chagrin, I discovered that the exhibit is not posted online at the V & A. I was, at first, incredibly disappointed. In a mad haste, I scoured the Internet for images of the fashion display on newssites and blogs. I found a lot of articles but precious few images of the actual exhibit. But what I did find told a lot. To illustrate a point, here are two of those V & A showcase windows:  

A mannequin displays the dress Grace Kelly wore in “The Swan.” (1956) The exhibit, “Grace Kelly: Style Icon,” is at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London from April 17- September 26, 2010

The exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, “Grace Kelly: Style Icon,” includes dresses worn by Grace Kelly after she became Princess Grace of Monaco in 1956.

Yawn. Pretty dry stuff, huh? Dresses on mannequins have no sparkle. What they needed was Grace Kelly.

Grace Kelly as Lisa Fremont in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1954 thriller, “Rear Window.” (“Grace Kelly: Floating on Chiffon,” Lisa’s History Room)

So instead of trying to catalog for you all the dresses in the V & A, I have picked my personal favorite and shown it as worn by the eternally beautiful Grace Kelly. It is the Paris dress she wore as sophisticate Lisa Carol Fremont in the 1954 Alfred Hitchcock classic, “Rear Window.”

The dress with a fitted black bodice and deep V-cut bustline was designed for Kelly by Paramount Picture’s chief costume designer Edith Head. The full skirt falls to mid-calf, gathered and layered in white chiffon and tulle. From the nipped-in waist, a spray branch pattern falls playfully over the hip. Grace accessorized her high-fashion gown with white silk gloves, pearls, and a chiffon shoulder wrap.

To read the “Rear Window” script excerpt wherein “Lisa-Carol- Fremont” enters Jimmy Stewart‘s apartment wearing this outfit, click here.

Grace Kelly sits on steps in her “Paris” dress she wore in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1954 “Rear Window.” The gown had a light & airy quality with a slender waist and a beautiful skirt made from yards and yards of tulle and chiffon. The black and white confection was created by Paramount Pictures costume designer Edith Head. (“Grace Kelly: Floating on Chiffon,” Lisa’s History Room)

For more on Grace Kelly, click here.

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Salvador Dali grew a flamboyant moustache, waxed and up-turned, styled after , influenced by seventeenth-century Spanish master painter Diego Velázquez

Salvador Dalí grew a flamboyant moustache, waxed and up-turned, influenced by seventeenth-century Spanish master painter Diego Velázquez. The moustache became Dalí's trademark look.

In 1953, Spanish-born Surrealist painter Salvador Dalí (1904-1989) wrote:

“Every morning upon awakening, I experience a supreme pleasure: that of being Salvador Dalí, and I ask myself, wonderstruck, what prodigious thing will he do today, this Salvador Dalí….”

Salvador Dalí found deep meaning in Jan Vermeer's painting, "The Lacemaker" (ca. 1669-70)

Salvador Dalí found deep meaning in Jan Vermeer's painting, "The Lacemaker" (ca. 1669-70)

In December 1955, that “prodigious thing” meant that he was to borrow a friend’s white Rolls Royce Phantom II, fill it to the roof with 500 kg of cauliflower, and drive it to the Sorbonne in Paris. Then he would disembark and enter the school to give a lecture he’d impossibly titled, ‘Phenomenological Aspects of the Paranoiac Critical Method:’ 

“Some 2,000 ecstatic listeners were soon sharing Salvador’s Dalirium. Planting his elbows on a lecture table strewn with bread crumbs, Dalí blandly explained: “All emotion comes to me through the elbow.” Then he announced his latest finding in critical paranoia. The gamy meat of it: “Everything departs from the rhinoceros horn! Everything departs from [Dutch Master] Jan Vermeer’s The Lacemaker! Everything ends up in the cauliflower!” The rub, apologized Dalí, is that cauliflowers are too small to prove this theory conclusively.” (1)

As Dalí’s fame grew, his stunts and outrageous pronouncements became more frequent. He was an endless self-promoter, grandiose and pompous. He felt impelled, he admitted, to accumulate millions of dollars. He loved money. To keep the contracts coming, he was determined to keep himself in the public eye. His art and behavior were designed to provoke a response.

Salvador Dalí's most famouse painting, "The Persistence of Memory," 1931. His inspiration for the three melting watches came to him when he had a headache. His wife Gala had gone to the movies with friends and Dalí, ill, had stayed at home. He sat at the kitchen table for a long time, staring at the melting Camembert cheese. Before going to bed, he entered his studio and looked at the landscape he was working on - and decided to add three melting watches.

Salvador Dalí's most famous painting, "The Persistence of Memory," 1931. His inspiration for the drooping timepieces came to him one night when he had a headache. His wife Gala had gone to the movies with friends while Dalí, ill, had stayed behind at home. He sat at the kitchen table for a long time, staring at the melting Camembert cheese. Before going to bed, he entered his studio and looked at the landscape he had been working on - and - Voila! - decided to add three melting watches.

He delighted in playing the buffoon. While Dalí’s pranks were often funny, one was certainly dangerous. Once he donned a deep-sea diving suit before giving a lecture. The helmet was soundproof so no one could hear him. Dalí began to thrash about, flailing his arms soundlessly. The audience roared with laughter, thinking it was part of Dalí’s act. But he was suffocating inside the helmet. It was not until he almost fainted that he was rescued. Accused of going too far,  Dalí would often reply, “It’s the only place I ever wanted to go.”

Sometimes his stunts were offensive, such as when he and wife Gala appeared at a New York costume party dressed as the Lindbergh baby and his kidnapper. Other spectacles bordered on the criminal, like when he discovered that his Bonwit Teller window display in Manhattan had been rearranged. He became so enraged that he hurled a bathtub through the plate glass window and crashed, with the tub, inside the store.

Dalí created The Mae West Lips Sofa (1937) in the same shocking-pink color introduced by fashion designer Elsa Schiaparellli

Dalí created The Mae West Lips Sofa (1937) in the same shocking-pink color introduced by fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli.

Dalí was endlessly creative in many genres other than painting. He created jewelry, designed clothes (see my post: “Elsa Schiaparelli: Shocking-Pink“) and furniture, painted sets for ballets and plays, wrote fiction, created window displays for department stores, and produced the dream sequence for director Alfred Hitchcock’s “Spellbound.He recorded a TV ad for Lanvin chocolates, designed the Chupa Chups candy labels, and was interviewed on TV in 1958 by Mike Wallace – during which Dalí imperiously referred to himself in the third person.

(1) TIME, Dec. 26, 1955

(2) “The Surreal World of Salvador Dali,” Smithsonian magazine, April 2005.

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