Fashion Icons: Natacha Rambova

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By the mid-1920’s, few people cared to understand Natacha Rambova beyond her reputation as the controlling wife of Rudolph Valentino. Natacha, with a strong but intuitive artistic temperament and progressive feminist views quite unpopular for 1920’s society, refused to be told what to do, whether by her famous husband or by the studio heads who dared to intervene with her creative vision. Continue reading “Fashion Icons: Natacha Rambova”

Top 5: Underrated Costumes in Gone With The Wind

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As soon as my mind wanders to the image of Scarlett in one of her costumes, which happens about five times on an average day, I let out a loud, dreamy sigh like a middle school girl thinking about her crush of the month. These exquisite costumes are among the very best that Hollywood has ever put forth into our world, and the evidence is in the amount of attention that goes on still today in preserving these magnificent creations.

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Fashion Icons: Kay Francis

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Those fortunate enough to have seen Kay Francis movies from the pre code era, such as Jewel Robbery or Ernst Lubitsch’s classic Trouble in Paradise, know that Kay Francis steals every scene she’s in. Her magnetism doesn’t really lie in her acting ability, which was never something she had much of a reputation for (nor did that bother her much). She wasn’t known for her fast-talking, witty banter, like some of her colleagues, such as Jean Harlow. Nor did audiences identify with her street-smart sensibility, like they did with Barbara Stanwyck and Joan Blondell.

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The Original Hollywood Fitness Guru: Sylvia of Hollywood

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It may be surprising to some to learn that Hollywood’s borderline toxic relationship with fitness is nearly as old as Hollywood itself. In the 1920’s, as general society finally began to accept film culture as more than just a cheap novelty, movie actresses began to find themselves as role models whose looks and mannerisms were suddenly being emulated across the world. With this new role in mainstream culture came great responsibility; actresses had little choice but to live up to the beauty standards of the day, working with the studios to create personas that were as over-the-top glamorous off-screen as they were behind the camera. It didn’t take long for major studios to require in their contracts that actresses remain beautiful and trim at all times at whatever cost. And so began the role of the fitness guru, hired to ensure that Hollywood stars kept themselves in shape. Madame Sylvia, whose philosophies and techniques were at best unconventional and at worst incredibly dangerous, invented the role for herself and perpetuated Hollywood’s outrageous beauty standards throughout most of the 1920’s and 30’s.

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Famous Feuds: Joan Crawford Vs. Norma Shearer

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“I found myself sitting in a car and in the other corner was a girl with the most beautiful eyes. They were the biggest eyes I had ever seen. But they didn’t trust me. I could see that. They never have.”

Those are the words of Norma Shearer, and the “girl with the most beautiful eyes” she refers to is none other than Joan Crawford. Back in 1925, however, when this meeting took place, Joan was the scrawny and virtually unknown Lucille Le Seur, and was brought to the set to perform as Norma’s uncredited double in “Lady of the Night,” a film that had Shearer playing two parts.

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Top 5: Jean Harlow’s Negligees

It seems fitting that my first post be about Jean Harlow’s lingerie.

For my first week of the fourth grade, I was told I had to prepare a book report in the form of a mobile, creating little pictures to hang from a clothes hanger and some twine, on which the back of the pictures would contain key facts about the book I read. What did I choose? Those Glorious Glamour Years, or “The Fashion Bible” as my mother and I called it.

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