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The Annual Costume Society of America Symposium

Hedy Lamar costume - Culver City Historical Society

News from the Costume Chair

by Louise Coffey-Webb, Costume Committee Chair

I have just returned from rainstorms in Boston where I was attending the annual Costume Society of America Symposium. I presented a lecture on Ganna Walska, a well-known Polish opera singer and socialite, whose designer of choice was the legendary Erté – famous for his Art Deco sinewy figures and fantastical ornaments.

Erté was also contracted to design sets and costumes for MGM in 1925, and his credits include The Mystic, Bright Lights, Time, the Comedian, Dance Madness, La Bohème, and Paris – all made during that one year! He was often partnered with designer Andre-Ani.

Even though his Parisian studio was replicated on the MGM lot to help him feel comfortable, one year was all he could bear!

New Displays of Costumes of Hedy Lamarr & Eleanor Parker

There are a couple of new costume displays in the ARC that I wanted to tell you about.

The first is an outfit made for Hedy Lamarr (pictured above) that looks like a two-piece skirt and top, but is actually made in one piece of a pretty red printed flower on black silk.

Hedy Lamarr was born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in Vienna and was a star in Europe before signing with Louis B. Mayer, who changed her name. She was a contracted star with MGM from 1937 through the end of World War II. [In 1942, at the height of her Hollywood career, she patented a frequency-switching system for torpedo guidance that was two decades ahead of its time; but that’s another story!]

We do not know the designer, as the production number written inside: “3684” belongs to a production that never came to fruition. It’s possible that this outfit was made for PR purposes. I have dated it circa 1940.

The other costume looks like an Asian pajama set, and is superbly finished to couture standards with a pale green chiffon silk lining. It is from The Seventh Sin (MGM, 1957) and was worn by Eleanor Parker as “Carol Carwin.” The hand-written labels sewn to the interior seams, say “Eleanor Parker” and the film production number “1710.” The designer was Helen Rose.

When you next enter the ARC, look for the photograph on the left of the old Meralta Theatre on Culver Boulevard, which is displaying on it’s marquee, the film The Seventh Sin with Eleanor Parker! The theatre was near the old City Hall and we can date the photograph to 1957 – as that was the film release date. This coincidence was noticed by Justin Scupine, Editor of www.culvercitytimes.com when he visited the ARC last month.

Visit the new Displays at the Pacific Theatre

I hope you have had a chance to look at our new display in the window of the Pacific Theatre, opposite The Culver Hotel. We will be changing sections every couple of months, to keep you up-to-date with our events and activities.

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