Costumes Spring 2009

NEWS FROM THE COSTUME CHAIR…

by Louise Coffey-Webb, Costume Committee Chair

THE ARC TO CELEBRATE THE 70THANNIVERSARY OF 1939 FILMS

This issue’s column will be a bit abbreviated as I’m off for what I’m sure will be an extraordinary trip to China with another professor from Woodbury University and two lucky fashion students. The Maxine Frankel Foundation is making it possible for us to visit Beijing and Shanghai where we plan to visit fashion designers, museums, colleges and hopefully bring back some new ideas – which I’ll share in the next newsletter!

Just before leaving, I was able to change out one of the costume display cases in celebration of the 70th anniversary of what many consider to be the greatest year in all filmdom: 1939.

Though we do not currently have any costumes from the most famous film of 1939 (and most of the years since!) Gone With The Wind, (we’re always looking and keeping our fingers crossed to find one) I found a gown circa 1860 (think Civil War) from the MGM musical hit, The Pirate, starring Judy Garland and Gene Kelly. This gown was worn by Marion Murray as Eloise (see photo below). The costume designer was Tom Keogh and the costume supervisor was the famed Irene, with wardrobe construction by Karinska. Its construction, like most of these period pieces, is outstanding. Please drop by and see it in person.

More on my return…

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

GENE KELLY’S “CANDY CANE” JACKET

NEWS FROM THE COSTUME CHAIR . . .

by Louise Coffey-Webb, Costume Committee Chair

In honor of the season’s holidays, we have on display at the ARC the actual “candy cane” jacket worn by Gene Kelly in the musical Take Me Out to the Ball Game, 1949, directed by Busby Berkeley.

Kelly played Eddie O’Brien and starred along with Frank Sinatra and Esther Williams.

The men’s costumes were designed by a gentleman who just went by one name: Valles. His full name was J. Arlington Valles and he worked at MGM for two decades, winning a costume Oscar ® along with Bill Thomas for Spartacus. He specialized in men’s costumes (Helen Rose did the women’s costumes in this film) and he was an excellent costume illustrator.

As you can see by the close-ups in the photos, the jacket is in very fine condition for being 60 years old and, rather than a woven red stripe, it is actually achieved with applied chain-stitched yarn! See how the lines match up so beautifully – a mark of true tailoring. The jacket is fully lined and the inside pocket bears the usual Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer label with Kelly’s name and a production number. This is typical of labels used in all MGM wardrobe at that time.

The current display features a man’s torso with a carved wooden base, which was donated by my dear friends, the artists Pamela and Gregory Weir-Quiton.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

FIESTA TIME!

NEWS FROM THE COSTUME CHAIR

by Louise Coffey-Webb, Costume Committee Chair

 

FIESTA TIME!

“Fiesta time” is always so much fun – everyone’s in a party mood! It’s especially fun to show off Fiesta items from the past at the ARC and this year was no different.

So many visitors enjoyed the Fiesta memorabilia. They all had their own stories and memories to share, especially the “baby boomers” who remember when Fiesta La Ballona was a week-long event with a parade and many related events.

 

MANNEQUIN WITH A HISTORY!

I want to thank a colleague and Culver City neighbor, Ali Brown, for donating a mannequin for the display of the Fiesta Princess dress shown below. It came from Carnell Kirkeeng, Ali’s grandfather who amassed a phenomenal historic fashion collection, reaching back over 100 years. Perhaps in a future column we will tell more about this amazing collection.

This particular Fiesta Princess dress is a Rosalie Utterback original, circa 1951. It is made of a bright yellow rayon with a black lace mantilla. It’s a beauty and the craftsmanship is superb.

I invite you all to come visit the ARC and share your memories and ideas on the first and third Saturdays of each month and by appointment – call us at (310) 253.6941.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

OUR INTERN KARLA CONTRERAS GRADUATES!

NEWS FROM THE COSTUME CHAIR . . .

by Louise Coffey-Webb, Costume Committee Chair

OUR INTERN KARLA CONTRERAS GRADUATES!

Our Woodbury University intern, Karla Contreras, graduated with a BFA in Fashion Design last month. She is hoping to find a position in the field of costume design, beginning in a costume rental shop for the industry. She is working through her final internship hours on the MGM costumes in the ARC with me, making excellent use of our vacation days!

CITY HELPS WITH ARCHIVAL MATERIALS

The City kindly provided new archival boxes and tissue to re-pack the costumes. So, along with checking for any pests or mold, writing descriptions of the costumes and their condition, Karla and I are integrating all previously gathered information of the 70-odd costumes to create the most comprehensive catalogue to date. The up-to-date records and packing methods will help insure the continued longevity of the costumes.

We are in the process of changing out the costume display cases which will be ready for our public program at the July picnic.

[Note: We have identified a wonderful “Bo Peep” costume worn by actress Jean Dean in the MGM film, The Bride Goes Wild, from 1948 which was designed by the great Helen Rose. You won’t want to miss it!]

I want to take this opportunity to thank Karla for her hard work and wish her all the very best for a successful and fulfilling future in her chosen field.

MGM CATALOGUE FROM 1970

Among our wonderful collection of memorabilia and reference materials is a rare catalogue from the 1970 auction of MGM items from its long and star-studded history. It was truly the end of an era of a film studio that was such an integral part of Culver City’s own history.

This catalogue is from the famous MGM auction, 38 years ago. This was the public auction from which the costume collection came which is now housed at the ARC.

It was also the auction that “re-discovered” Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz, amongst other treasures, and was held over a number of days in various stages on the lot which is now the home of SONY Pictures Entertainment.

The catalog stated “The net proceeds from the sale of this catalogue with be donated to the Motion Picture and Television Relief Fund for support of its work.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

ANOTHER MGM COSTUME IDENTIFIED: #1608!

NEWS FROM THE COSTUME CHAIR…

by Louise Coffey-Webb, Costume Committee Chair

ANOTHER MGM COSTUME IDENTIFIED: #1608!

Currently on display in the ARC is a navy blue Renaissance-style costume from the original MGM cache belonging to the City, but now curated by the Historical Society (see photo). Until now, the only information available was what was written in the garment itself: “Helen Wood” and a number “1608.”

Now comes the fun part – the research! I called up my friend Marc Wanamaker (who authors the column “Reel Culver City” on pg. 3), who is the last word in film studio history. I gave him the number, 1608, which he recognized as an MGM production number. He looked it up and found that it was the film Give a Girl a Break from 1953.

Then I hopped on my computer to look at the wonderful film-buff website www.imdb.com to confirm that Helen Wood was indeed in that film. There I found that the character she played was Joanna Moss, and that the costume was designed by the great Helen Rose.

THE FILM’S DIRECTOR – STANLEY DONEN

Another interesting fact for me was that the director was Stanley Donen. I was Stanley’s personal assistant back in the early 1980s when he lived in Bel Air. His wife at the time was the lovely Yvette Mimieux, and she had had a starring role in another MGM film, The Wonderful World of the Brothers’ Grimm – a costume from which had also come up for auction a the famous 1970 MGM auction. That particular film won a costume Oscar© for Mary Wills in 1962, and one of those Renaissance-style costumes now resides in the collection at Woodbury University.

DISPLAYS TO BE ROTATED

At the ARC we plan to rotate costume displays because too much light can permanently weaken fibers and cause unseen as well as visible damage. I plan to research each costume so that we can provide an accurate label, and this way we can all keep learning more about the wonderful holdings we have.

On a personal note: I am extremely delighted to announce that I will become the new Chair of Fashion Design at Woodbury University beginning this coming July. This is a very exciting position for me, but means that I will now need to find someone to fill my old position to manage the Woodbury’s wonderful study collection – a job I will sadly relinquish due to time constraints.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email