Monday, May 20, 2013

Joanne Woodward - From the Terrace 1960

Joanne Woodard and Travilla worked together on four films, with Woodward's husband, Paul Newman co-starring in three of them. The couple developed a very warm relationship with Travilla that lasted until his death.

The first of the four productions was From the Terrace in which Woodward portrayed Mary St. John, the wife of an ambitious young executive chooses a loveless marriage and an unfulfilling personal life in exchange for a successful Wall Street career.

Hedda Hopper announced in her November 19, 1959 column "Woodward has 20 high fashion styles in From the Terrace and will give a one woman fashion show by Travilla who's designing her costumes."

A few weeks later Travilla talked to the press about his latest leading lady, "Joanne is fresh, delightful and a great actress. But in all her previous roles she has never yet been seen in high fashion, nearly all required her to appear in extremely simple, even dowdy, clothes. In real life she's the sweater and skirt type, a plain neckline and full skirt were standard equipment." She felt a bit skittish about attempting a chic, high-fashion look." 

I had trouble convincing her so I showed her some dresses on models and explained that she could look the same in those clothes if she could feel them inside - think "tall" and try a different silhouette than from roles past, as this film required her to be clothed in tons of beautiful outfits."

 "She ended up wanting all the film creations for her own wardrobe."

And why not with over $70,000 being spent on costumes with fabrics costing $30 to $50 per yard imported from France and Italy including silks, worsted wools, wrap-printed brocades and mylar iridescent velvet that simulates a beaded effect of peacock feathers.

Travilla told reporters "The assignment was a dream. All of the feminine roles are those of wealthy sophisticated women." which the designer would use to his advantage in creating a line of clothing based upon the costumes worn by Woodard in the film, something he would also do in their third film together.

This slim putty-silk sheath topped by a seven-eighths coat styled with cutaway front and a two-button closing at the waistline was adapted from Woodward's which was executed in beige wool with a deeper beige collar for better definition on the screen.

Or this gold ombre dress and jacket combination from the same fabric as Woodward's garment.

And unknow reviewer described Woodward's wardrobe as: "This being the end of the 1950s, makeup is heavy but flawless, tending to emphasize the two-dimensional image onscreen. The wardrobe is vintage Travilla, the American designer most well-known for dressing Marilyn Monroe in some of her most memorable gowns (including the white halter dress with pleated skirt in The Seven Year Itch). His negligees, daywear, and formal gowns look stunning on Joanne Woodward and the statuesque Elizabeth Allen as the nosy Sage Rimmington. To the popular wasp-waisted silhouette of the day, Travilla added contrasting lengths or structured drapery falling from the hip. He favored monochromatic looks in this picture, something that is particularly successful in the film’s penultimate scene when Woodward arrives for a board meeting at Newman’s office in an ensemble of corporate grey—dress, furs, gloves, bag, and turban head wrap. Travilla says much with this costume: Woodward is trespassing on a male-only domain and she’s there on sufferance in spite of the deference of the gentlemen. Everyone thinks Alfred is about to deliver an important presentation, but instead he quits dramatically. He leaves the room and jumps in a taxi, declaring his independence from Mary. Woodward is left on a New York street corner, shouting “Alfred!” like any common fishwife. She may look like Park Avenue, but she’s really Bed-Stuy."

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Jane Russell/Jeanne Craine - Gentlemen Marry Brunettes

The sequel to Anita Loos Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was originally titled But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes was shortened to make it seem like a sequel to their 1953 hit. Along with Jane Russell, Fox brought back Jack Cole for choreography and Travilla for the costumes. Jeanne Craine would co-star with Russell in place of Marilyn Monroe who was now the studio's top-grossing actress.

The plot would seem a simple one: Two Broadway showgirls and siblings Connie and Bonnie Jones, are sick and tired of not getting anywhere in their careers in New York City except for bottom-rung jobs. Quitting Broadway, the sisters decided to travel to Paris to escape their bothersome boyfriends and take the city by storm which their mother and aunt (Mitzi and Mimi Jones) had done back in the 1920s. This allowed both actresses to play duel roles and the opportunity for Travilla to reach back into his childhood and his aunt Sybil's memories of the industry.

Russell (Bonnie) and Craine (Connie) as Shriner party girls in leopard and with co-star Scott Brady upon their arrival in Paris. Sexpots to school marms.
Travilla's concept for Mitzi and Mimi and the finished product.
Xerox copies of Travilla designs for Russell and Craine purchased on ebay from a seller who found them in a box of artist supplies. Possibly used for figure study or fashion design from a Los Angeles-based school.
Bright red "shimmy" with black gloves and feathered muff.
Two designs for Craine. Demure robe and high-cut show costume.
Craine and Russell in matching lingerie.
Russell's sketch is more onscreen version than Craine's. Notice similar body position for  all three.

Though Christian Dior designed the gowns used in the fashion sequence, Travilla's  creations rivaled the Frenchman's in every way.
Russell was "aged" to play Mama Mimi Jones coming to rescue her girls from a life of heartache.