WONDERFUL TRAVELS TO CHINA!

NEWS FROM THE COSTUME CHAIR . . .

by Louise Coffey-Webb, Costume Committee Chair

 

WONDERFUL TRAVELS TO CHINA!

Summer is a time when many people travel abroad. For me, it’s time for a “Staycation” because, luckily, I have been traveling a lot this year – beginning with spending the new year in Brazil with my extended family.

In March, thanks to the Maxine Frankel Foundation, I traveled to Beijing and Shanghai, China, with two students and another professor from Woodbury University, where I am Chair of the Fashion Design Department.

It was a thrilling trip over Spring Break, first visiting the cultural highlights to understand some of the very long history of Chinese culture, followed by fashion-focused visits to Chinese Vogue, Image consultants, couture designers, the Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology and tea with the first lady to bring western-style fashion shows to Beijing in 1980.

Overall it was enormously stimulating. It is an extraordinary time for Chinese fashion right now, as they integrate their incredible history with their enormous appetite for new fashions and styles, resulting in a unique sensibility.

A STUDY IN PEACOCKS…..

At the end of May, I was invited to give a lecture on peacocks in fashion and costume at the annual Costume Society of America Symposium, this year in Phoenix, Arizona. The Costume Society of America*, founded in 1973, is devoted to the encouragement and support of the study of dress.

Interestingly, Cecil B. De Mille’s inspiration for the extravagant peacock cape worn by Hedy Lamarr in Samson and Delilah (Paramount Pictures,1949), came from the gown worn by the Indian Vicereine, Lady Curzon, to the Dunbar Ball in 1903. The ball celebrated King Edward VII as Emperor of India, and the gown was entirely embroidered to create golden peacock feathers and each “eye” was created with the wing of a scarab beetle.

According to Edith Head, the peacock feathers used for Hedy Lamarr’s gown as Delilah, were gathered from the Demille’s estate. Samson and Delilah won the Costume Oscar© for all six of its costume designers: Edith Head, Dorothy Jeakins, Elois Jenssen, Gile Steele and Gwen Wakeling.

Now, back to the Culver City Historical Society and the wonderful MGM costume collection! The Society will be working with the city on plans for the future which may include a costume exhibition on Woodbury University’s Campus, in conjunction with the Second Annual International Burbank Film Festival in March of 2010. Stay tuned – and have a wonderful summer!

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