AUDREY HEPBURN AND GIVENCHY

audrey-breakfast-at-tiffanys

Audrey Hepburn and Hubert de Givenchy  – together they made film fashion history, and more, were devoted friends from 1953 when she was about to make her movie Sabrina until her death in 1993. As Audrey said of Givenchy, “His are the only clothes in which I feel myself. He is far more than a couturier, he is a creator of personality.”

This post is reprinted from my previous blog the Silver Screen Modiste from 12/15/2013

Sabrina (1954) Directed by Billy Wilder Shown: Audrey Hepburn

Photo courtesy Photofest

Audrey had been a smash in Roman Holidaynot only winning a Best Actress Oscar, but launching the new look of the gamine. Vogue magazine called her at the time, “today’s wonder girl…This slim little person with the winged eyebrows and Nefertiti head and throat is the world’s darling.”

 Audrey’s first meeting with Givenchy is often retold. She went to his Paris salon looking for a stylish wardrobe for her starring role in Sabrina in 1953. She was announced as movie actress Miss Hepburn. Givenchy met her, somewhat shocked that this was clearly not Katharine Hepburn, but smitten by her charm and impish beauty, highlighted by her capri pants, flat shoes, tee-shirt tied at the waist and wearing a gondolier’s hat. He was also impressed that she spoke to him in French. She asked him to make her wardrobe for Sabrina. Givenchy had worked for Lucien Lelong and Schiaparelli, but had just started his own line and  was working on his second collection.. He had a small staff, he explained to Audrey, and there was no way he could take on the job of designing and producing a movie wardrobe. He did tell her, however, that she could look at the finished models, and she could have whichever ones she wanted. Audrey was very pleased and excited by what she saw. Several outfits were exactly what she wanted for her role. According to Givenchy she took the black satin dress with the “bateau’ neckline (which Givenchy would henceforth call the “decollete Sabrina”) shown above; the charcoal gray suit with fitted waist that she wears at the train station on her trip back to the U.S.; and the white strapless silk organza gown embroidered with floral decorations and with the detachable train, Audrey wears this Cinderella gown to stunning effect at the Larabee party.

Audrey Sabrina

Photo courtesy Photofest

Sabrina went on to be another hit for Audrey Hepburn. She had invited Givenchy to the Premiere, but they were both disappointed that his name appeared nowhere in the film credits.There were reasons of course, guild rules, of which Givenchy was not a member, and contractual obligations that, as Paramount Head Designer Edith Head’s name always appeared as the costume designer. Audrey told Givenchy that his name would never be left out again.

There are various versions of why Audrey went to Givenchy in the first place instead of having all her wardrobe designed by Edith Head. The two had gotten along well during the design phase of Roman Holiday. But Audrey had her own ideas about her look.  While Edith Head was usually very accommodating to the taste of her star actresses, she had started off on the wrong foot with Audrey. Audrey’s thin, tall, flat-chested physique and long neck led Edith to either hide or compensate for these features. Audrey by contrast wanted to emphasize them. Billy Wilder claims credit for sending Audrey to Paris to find her wardrobe at a couturier’s. But I would bet that it was Audrey that asked for this. She had kept up with fashion news in Paris and had heard of Givenchy while filming Monte Carlo Baby in France. No doubt she wanted to go to a young couturier who used simple lines and had modern ideas compatible to her own, and therefore picked the young Givenchy. 

There is an alternate version of what happened with the Givenchy Sabrina costumes. Billy Wilder claims that Audrey returned from Paris with only sketches of the Givenchy creations, and that they were fabricated under Edith Head’s supervision at Paramount. French costume designer Jean-Pierre Dorleac, who had worked with Edith Head, has also stated that Head had modified the Givenchy sketch for the black dress and its neckline by adding the bows (the ties) at the shoulders. In either case, numerous “Edith Head” costume sketches have subsequently appeared, purporting to be from Sabrina. Many of these are of costumes that never appear in the movie, and others were those that Edith Head had created years after Sabrina came out and Head had retired, done solely for her fashion shows, and even for those that had been designed by Givenchy. Some of the fault here lies with over-zealous sketch owners that attribute unknown sketches to famous movies, and auction sites that believe them.  As for Edith and Sabrina, she stated in her book The Dress Doctor that, “The director broke my heart by suggesting that while the ‘chauffeur’s daughter’ was in Paris she actually buy a Paris suit designed by a French designer.” 

 Funny Face (1957) Directed by Stanley Donen Shown: Audrey Hepburn

The murkiness of the design credit for Audrey’s wardrobe disappears starting with Funny Face in 1957. While Edith Head is still credited as the Costume Designer, Givenchy is given credit for the first time, thus, “Wardrobe: Miss Hepburn, Paris:” Hubert de Givenchy. Roman Holiday won Audrey an Oscar, Sabrinashowed us her beauty, Funny Face turned her into a fashion model. It was in this movie that she is transformed from a New York bookstore clerk into a Parisian fashion model for the Avedon character played by Fred Astaire. Givenchy designed a series of couture gowns and outfits for her to wear in a variety of Parisian scenes. Above she descends the stairs at the Louvre, resembling the classic statue of the Victory of Samothrace.  And not only is she a fashion model, but in this movie she shows us that Audrey can dance, alone or with Fred Astaire. Another highlight of this film is the irrepressible Kay Thompson, singer, dancer, vocal director, actress, and children’s book author.

Audrey Breakfast_Tiffanys_1961

And then there was Breakfast at Tiffany’sproviding, next to Marilyn Monroe in the subway dress, the most iconic movie star/fashion image in history. Givenchy’s long black gown with the demi-lune cut-out at the back, accessorized by the over-the top huge costume pearls, is a touch of genius. The whole scene works, Tiffany’s window, the croissant and coffee, and of course Audrey’s long neck and articulated shoulders, a look which would be spoiled had she been wearing her coat. And Moon River. Believe it or not Paramount’s Head of Production said Henry Mancini’s song would have to go. “Over my dead body,” replied Audrey. Now, years later, Audrey and the song, the cat and the gown, come as a package. A gift to us, all wrapped up in a bow.

Audrey & Givenchy

Hubert de Givenchy was born 1927 in Beuavais, France, born to titled parents whose family owned the Gobelins and Beauvais tapestry factories. This association with tapestry must have given him an affinity with fabric, which he always considered of primary importance in couture. He attended the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris and then apprenticed under couturier Jacques Fath before working for both Lucien LeLong and Schiaparelli. But it was Balenciaga that influenced his style the most, and the two became close friends. Givenchy opened his own house in 1952. Givenchy designed for Audrey’s personal wardrobe as well as for her movie costumes. He stated that her measurements changed little throughout her life: 32-20-35. Givenchy would also design for Grace Kelly and Jacqueline Kennedy.

Charade (1963) Directed by Stanley Donen Shown: Audrey Hepburn

The photos above and below show Audrey in the murder mystery Charadewhere she co-starred with Cary Grant. The film was directed by Stanley Donen and was released in December 1963, only two weeks after the assassination of President Kennedy and just over 50 years ago. It was very popular at the time and seemed like a diversion from the sadness of the newscasts.

Givenchy’s designs were very classic but in the modern straight lines of the early 1960s. Like other costume designers, he liked to emphasize the face of the star, and with Audrey, he also showed off her neck – as she liked. Coats, smart suits, and trenches were also popular – simple of course, but always worn with a hat or scarf. Audrey always made her leading men look better (although that formula didn’t seem to help Bogey in Sabrina). Cary and Audrey really clicked.

 Audrey charade

Another movie where Audrey darts around Paris is How to Steal a Milliondirected by William Wyler and co-starring Peter O’Toole. Although uncredited in this film, Givenchy again designed Audrey’s wardrobe. This led O’Toole to quip, in character, during a scene when Audrey is disguised as a cleaning lady,”it gives Givenchy the night off”. This fun romantic comedy is based on art forgeries and mixed-up museum heists. Released in 1966, it showed the height of the well-dressed 60s woman – chic, modern and sexy, as shown below.

Audrey How to Steel a Millon-1967

 Audrey Hepburn in How to Steal a Million (1966)above and below. In the Givenchy outfit shown here she is dressed all in white: white hat, white suit, white hose, white shoes, and even sunglasses. But she drives around in a red car.

 Audrey How-to-Steal-a-Million (1)

The white collar is always a great way to frame a face, especially when accessorized with a white hat. The contrasting black only adds to that emphasis. The short pixie hairstyle fit her personality and the styling of the clothes.

 How to Steal a Million (1966)  Directed by William Wyler Shown: Audrey Hepburn

Audrey is shown below with Peter O’Toole on the set of How to Steal a Million. William Wyler had directed Audrey in her first major film Roman Holiday, and was happy to direct her again late in his career. The pairing with Peter O’Toole had very good chemistry and the movie never loses its charm.

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As Audrey aged and film roles no longer occupied her time, she turned her attention to various charitable causes. She proved that her inner beauty was equal to her physical beauty. She launched an international appeal for ill-treated and suffering children around the world, and served as Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund.

She remained close to Hubert de Givenchy for the rest of her life. Late in her life, when Audrey had terminal cancer, the paparazzi circled her residence awaiting news. Givenchy spoke to his client and their mutual friend Bunny Mellon to see if she could lend her personal jet to transport her to Switzerland where Audrey wanted to be in peace.. Mrs. Mellon came through and her jet flew Audrey and her two sons to Audrey’s Swiss home. She died there a month later on January 20, 1993.

Today, her charitable work continues under the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund.

audrey-hepburn-givenchy-trench

 

WHO IS PIERO TOSI?

An Honorary Academy Award was  given to Piero Tosi on November 16,  2013  after a career of fifty years as a costume designer, and with five Best Costume design nominations.  He has worked on major international films and with stellar film directors, yet few people know his name.  He is now 87 years old and fears flying, so he did not attend the Academy’s Governors Awards ceremony, where fellow winners included Steve Martin and Angela Lansbury, with Angelina Jolie receiving the Hersholt Humanitarian Award.  Claudia Cardinale accepted on his behalf. The Governors Awards are presented in advance of the regular Oscars.

 

Piero Tosi in front of his costumes and sketches

Piero Tosi in front of his costumes and sketches

Piero Tosi’s career spans back to the 1950s. His first significant period film was Senso, directed by Luchino Visconti, with whom Tosi would work on many films. It co-starred Alida Valli and Farley Granger. She plays an Italian countess, he plays Austrian lieutenant Franz Mahler. Tosi was born in Florence amid art, and studied at Florence’s Accademia di Belle Arti.  Both his appreciation for art and his knowledge of art’s history as a living and breathing heritage is evident in the design of his costumes.

Sehnsucht

Senso was an early preparation to tackle Italy’s own Gone with the Wind: Il Gattopardo or The Leopard, based on the masterpiece novel by Giuseppe di Lampedusa. The film version was also directed by Luchino Visconti. The story is set in Sicily in the early 1860s during the Risorgimento, a time of political upheaval.  The story centers on the patriarch of an aristocratic Italian family played by Burt Lancaster, who  sees the arrival of the passing of his way of life. Lancaster’s voice was dubbed in Italian. His role was questioned at the time, but it helped get financing from 20th Century-Fox. And to his credit, his gravity and maturity, matched by his still evident masculinity, were perfect for the role.  The director, Visconti was himself of noble Italian birth, even though he had become a communist, thus making a movie of this novel was one where his artistic  eye and understanding of the old aristocracy added the needed depth.  Martin Scorsese called the film, “One of the greatest visual experiences in cinema.”

Piero the leopard 5

The time period when the story opens is 1860, a period that is generally known as the Victorian era, and that would shortly lead to the Civil War in the U.S. Italy had its own political and military upheavals in efforts to unify the country, which had been divided into territories ruled by separate monarchs and invading countries.  The full Victorian style of dress we know from Gone With the Wind and other period movies is fully developed in The Leopard, only with more vivid color and detail. At the time of GWTW‘s filming, many restrictions were placed on the colors of the costumes because of the demands of Technicolor. This is well documented in the frustrated memos from David Selznick and costume designer Walter Plunkett.

Claudia Cardinale and Alain Delon in "Il Gatopardo" or "The Leopard," 1963.

Claudia Cardinale and Alain Delon in “Il Gatopardo” or “The Leopard,” 1963.

Claudia Cardinale plays Angelica Sedara, the beautiful Mayor’s daughter, though she was still a commoner. Alain Delon plays Tancredi Falconeri, Prince Don Fabrizio Salina’s (Burt Lancaster’s)   handsome and dashing nephew.

Piero the leopard

Piero Tosi designed 300 costumes for the Ball  scene alone. The Tirelli costume workshop in Italy fabricated all of the costumes for the film. We usually think of dark colors when picturing the 1860s, which is mostly based on all the mourning dress worn during the Civil War in the U.S. and the fashion set by Victoria after the death of her husband in 1861. But on the continent the styles where vivid and full of lively patterns and textures. The women’s  costumes designed by Tosi are magnificent.

The entire Ball scene was filmed in Sicily, during August in full summer heat. “Everything was melting under my eyes,” said Tossi when interviewed for the Hollywood Reporter.

 While the film has many incredible scenes including battles, the Ball scene is a spectacle, lasting 45 minutes and a joy to watch. It is actually a party and has its own tempo, from arrivals,  through group conversations, to dances and a crescendo including the dance of the Prince and Angelica. These two are made to appear as a perfect pair, yet so much divides them – age, class, and more. The theme of the entire movie is reflected in this ballroom scene, indeed as it is in the contrasting bravura and sense of mortality shown on Burt Lancaster’s face. 

Piero Tosi_Leopard 1

Piero Tossi received his first Academy Award nomination for Best Costume Design for The Leopard.

piero leopard2

The same year Tosi got to work on a very different picture, a contemporary movie directed by Vittorio De Sica starring Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni; Yesterday, Today ,and Tomorrow. This made for a very sexy film pairing Sophia and Marcello, and it won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language film.

Sophia Loren in Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Sophia Loren in Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

 

The following  year Tosi got to work on another contemporary movie directed by Vittorio De Sica and also starring Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni;  Marriage Italian Style. Sophia Loren would become one of his favorite leading ladies, along with Claudia Cardinale, Silvana Mangano, and Anna Magnani.

Piero Marriage Italian Style

And then for something completely different, there was working with the great Federico Fellini, only this was for Fellini Satyricon – that 1969 episodic movie of the absurd set in the Roman Empire.

Piero satyricon

 

Tossi paired again with Visconti in The Dammed (1969). The movie was a beautifully filmed and very well acted but haunting and decadent depiction of the rise of Naziism in pre-war Germany. It starred Ingrid Thulin, Charlotte Rampling (shown below), Dirk Bogarde, and Helmut Berger.

Piero Charlotte Rampling The Dammed 1969

Charlotte Rampling in The Dammed

 Piero Tosi was paired again with Luchino Visconti in Death in Venice, the film based on Thomas Mann’s novella but with the protagonist changed from a writer to that of a character based on composer Gustav Mahler, whose symphonies form the movie’s soundtrack.  The lead actor is Dirk Bogarde, who travels to Venice and the Lido with his wife, played by Marisa Berenson, after the death of their son. Thus the film has an air of melancholy. Bogarde enters into a fascination with the young son of another hotel guest, played by Bjorn Andresen, whose mother is played by Sylvana Mangano. It is a very slow-paced but beautiful film that people either love or can’t bear to sit through.

Below is a costume sketch by Tosi for Sylvana Mangano’s character in the film from 1971.

piero Death in Venice sketch 1971

 In the photo below, Piero Tosi adjusts the costume for Sylvana Mangano  near the beach at the Lido during filming of Death in Venice.

Piero Tosi Silvana Mangano

 Sylvana Mangano at left below is shown with Bjorn Andresen who plays her sonTosi received his second Oscar nomination for this film.

piero Silvana Mangano Death in Venice

Piero Tosi’s technique for sketching costumes is displayed again below in a design for the film LInnocente, in 1976. Tosi believed in capturing the essential features of the costume in the design sketch without laboring over it in trying to impress directors or stars. The sketches nonetheless convey style, beauty and an air of mystery that remains for the film to fully develop.

Piero Visconti Innocente

Piero Tosi’s range and talent was further put on view in the Franco-Italian  film La Cage aux Folles (1978 ), which was the forerunner of the American film Birdcage. The costume designs were not only for Michel Serrault at left and Ugo Tognazzi, the “Cage aux Folles” Cabaret owner and his partner, but for all the entertainers and straight characters too. Tosi received his fourth Oscar nomination for this very funny but heart-warming film.

Piero La-Cage-Aux-Folles-

In 1982, Tosi designed the costumes for Franco Zeffirelli’s La Traviata, a film-based opera production starring Placido Domingo and Teresa Strata. For this film he received his fifth and last Oscar nomination for Best Costume design. He has designed costumes for nearly 70  films, most recently for a short in 2009. He teaches his craft in Rome at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia.

Piero Tossi has been most deserving of an Academy Award for his several nominations, most especially for The Leopard. That he received an Honorary Award this year is his due. But for the first year the Costume Designers have their own branch of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. And thus for the first time the Costume Designers Branch are represented by three members on the Board of Governors of the Academy (all branches have three representatives). One Board Member, costume designer and Chair of UCLA’s Copley Center for Costume Design, Deborah Nadoolman Landis, has in particular lead the effort to recognize Tossi’s work. The other two Costume Designers Branch representatives are Jeffrey Kurland and Judianna Makovsky. When Piero Tossi won his award it was a great day for all costume designers.

THE LOOK OF BLADE RUNNER

 

In the 32 years since its release in 1982, Blade Runner has set the standard of excellence for science fiction films. Its penetrating stylishness and perpetual freshness are qualities that make it almost unique in the genre, and it has influenced not only other science fiction films and music videos but also video-games, architecture, set design, fashion, products, and advertising. Like many of the greatest films,  Blade Runner’s production was a long and torturous process that nearly derailed on more than one occasion. Its filming and director Ridley Scott’s single-minded pursuit caused strife among the crew and exhaustion among the cast. It went over-budget and was nearly shut down – in fact at the end of principal photography the financial backers laid everybody off including Scott. Harrison Ford stated it was the worst experience of his career. Yet it is  often listed among the greatest films ever made, and was voted first place among 100 science-fiction movies by readers of SFX Magazine.  It remains a compelling and obsessive vision that is never forgotten by those that have seen it, and a film that enriches the experience with each new viewing. Blade Runner carries deep themes within its story. What is life? Who created us? What does it mean to be alive, and the search for one’s maker. And it shows what might happen to earth through recklessness and ecological devastation. The look of Blade Runner can tell the story in itself, a contradiction of fascinating imagery within a world of decay, the gloomy vision of baroque futurism.

This post is reprinted from my earlier blog Silver Screen Modiste from June 2012.

Blade Runner eye

Blade Runner is a futuristic film noir, envisioned as such by Philip K. Dick in his book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheepand by its first screenwriter and film-option holder Hampton Fancher. It carries the film noir tropes of seemingly futile endeavors set in a bleak world, where a “detective” or blade runner is charged with hunting and “retiring” a small group of android “replicants” that have escaped far-off space colonies, where these near-perfect human clones are used as servants and workers, but who now come back to earth to beseech their maker to extend their short programmed life. The lead character Rick Deckard is played by Harrison Ford, a depressed blade runner who seems to care as little about other’s lives as the empathy-less replicants themselves. From the beginning Deckard was envisioned by Fancher as played by Robert Mitchum, complete with trench coat and fedora. Harrison Ford was then cast as Deckard, but his just-completed filming of Indiana Jones in the trademark wide fedora turned Ridley Scott away from any such resemblance. The look and costumes of Sean Young as the replicant Rachael was pointedly borrowed from Joan Crawford as dressed by Gilbert Adrian, wearing wide-shouldered, waist-tapered suits and jackets with pencil skirts. The costume designers Charles Knode and Michael Kaplan, in keeping with the total production design, created inventive costumes that seemed influenced by the past, yet very contemporary and wearable in the future, the same qualities found in the timeless fashions of Adrian. There would be no cliche science-fiction costumes in Blade Runner, no zippered jumpsuits or latex body-suits, but rather a unique melange of 1940s styling, Japanese-inspired fashion, and punk-rock flash. 

Blade Runner (1982) Directed by Ridley Scott Shown: Sean Young (as Rachael)

Sean Young as Rachael is dressed in a very Adrian-inspired suit of colored bands, her hair arranged in a mid-1940s up -do. Photo courtesy of Photofest.

Blade Runner (1982)Directed by Ridley ScottShown: Sean Young (as Rachael)

Photo courtesy Photofest

In the scene above San Young wears a long fur coat of  chevron patterns over her suit. The rarity of fur in the brave new world of 2019 signifies her stature as the assistant to Dr. Eldon Tyrell. She is possibly a different order of replicant and her costumes denote her ability to pass as human.

Blade Runner 9 Harrison Ford_

Harrison Ford as Deckard wears a shirt and tie of modernist stripes and cubes.His traditional trench coat has been replaced here by this functional all-purpose long jacket. Photo courtesy Photofest.

There has been a perceived phenomenon in Hollywood called the “Ridley Scott Exception.” Its premise is that whereas virtually every science-fiction movie is betrayed in time by the limitations of its filmed technology, Scott’s Alien and Blade Runner are as fresh as ever, and when viewed by teenagers are invariably loved by them. The visual aesthetics of the Ridley Scott films are timeless. Every scene in Blade Runner is of a piece, its world is total in itself. It is “layered,” from its sweeping aerial shots to its multi-faceted street scenes. The multitude of objects carries forward the totality of its world, from the very covers of the magazines and newspapers (still around in 2019) that people carry, to the flashing neon signs and the bombarding, sky -scrapper-tall, electronic advertisements.

Blade Runner’s characteristic visual feature is its pervasive night and  everlasting rain, with smoke permeating virtually every scene, indoors or out, to give not only a moody atmosphere but to show a world overcome by pollution. The streets are packed with people in a very multi-cultural world, and though set in Los Angeles, an Asian influence is strong. Many artists and designers participated in creating the look, most notably Ridley Scott himself. But the visual genesis of Blade Runner began with the graphic novels or  “bandes dessines” of Jean Giraud, working under the pseudonym of Moebius.

Blade Runner Harrison Ford - James Olmos

Harrison Ford with Edward James Olmos as Gaff. Olmos created his own
multi-lingual “Cityspeech” for some of his lines.

Production Design for Blade Runner was accomplished by Lawrence Paull and the Art Direction was handled by David Snyder. Ridley Scott himself drew many of the concept drawings for the film. But one of the most far-reaching steps that Scott took was to hire Syd Mead as the “visual futurist” for Blade Runner. Syd’s job was primarily to design the “spinner” vehicles and other technical gadgets for the film. But Syd started producing background drawings for his vehicles to help visualize the context. This impressed Scott and so resulted in the innovative look being used for many of the sets in the film. Syd also worked on the neon building advertising signs, many in a distinctive cartouche shape.

Blade Runner Syd Mead art

The street scenes were created at the back lot of Warner Brothers. The New York street standing set was the foundation for a huge makeover into the fantastic visual world of Blade Runner. The construction of the sets was an enormous endeavor. Accomplishing the incredible detail of this project was helped greatly by the actor’s strike of 1980 that gave the designers and crews several extra months of work before shooting began. Ridley Scott admired Stanley Kubrick, and in both their cases attention to every set detail resulted in the heavily textured look of their films.

 

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Ridley Scott believed in “layering” in the design and construction of the sets as well as the set dressing. Each object was endowed with its own back story and its purpose in furthering the story. The interior sets were also smoky, and filmed with flashes of light that served no particular purpose  other than giving the visual stimulation that Scott desired. While the sets were very physical, the look of the film was also accomplished through expert model-making, used in the Tyrell building for example, and in the matte paintings used for the aerial views. The construction of the cars and spinners was a huge job in itself, Three shops were used that worked 18 hours a day for their manufacture, with 50 people working on the project for 5 months. $100,000 was spent on neon signs alone (huge in 1980 dollars).  

Blase Runner 8

Deckard chases a replicant through the sets of Blade Runner, showing a street teeming with punks and Hare Krishnas.

Some notable Los Angeles landmarks were used as filming sets. Downtown LA’s 2nd Street tunnel, similarly built as the Pasadena freeway’s glazed white brick tunnels was used with some exciting lighting results. Especially significant was the Bradbury Building with its open atrium and wrought iron grill work and stairs. It was used as a  hotel where character J.F. Sebastian lives. The interior of Deckard’s apartment was fully realized as a live in space. The Frank Loyd Wright designed concrete textile blocks, used for his Ennis House were copied for the cave-like interior. Filming was done inside the Bradbury Building, which was occupied as office space at the time. Thus filming had to be done at night, notably between 6:00 pm and 5:00 am just before clean-up and office day use. began. The building also had to be dressed with litter, and eventually cork was used as depicting debris, which not only looked good but absorbed all the water that flooded the building as rain. After each shoot the building had to be cleaned in time for its occupants. LA’s beautiful Union Train Station was also used, although it served as the Police Station in the film.

Blade runner 800px-Bradbury_Building,_interior,_ironwork

The interior of the Bradbury Building in Los Angeles, as it looks today above and was below as the Blade Runner set. Ironically, the Bradbury Building’s design, built in 1893, was influenced by a science fiction novel, Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward, published in 1887.

Blade Runner bradbury_balcony

Make-up was also a important contributor to the film’s look, as it usually does for every film, although often over-looked. Marvin Westmore was the principal make-up artist, he of the famed Westmore Hollywood make-up family. Below is Joanna Cassidy who plays the sexy replicant Zhora. Joanna Cassidy actually owned the snake as a pet.

Blade Runner (1982) Directed by Ridley Scott Shown: Joanna Cassidy

Zhora was the first replicant that Deckard hunts in Blade Runner. She is trying to make her escape in the scene below before Deckard shoots her in a later dramatic scene. Her see-through plastic jacket was very novel and eye-catching. Adrian had also used a similar plastic for some show-girl costumes in the 1930s. Charles Knode also designed the black “dominatrix” undergarments and boots of Cassidy’s costume.

Blade_Runner 6

Daryl Hannah plays the replicant Pris, described as a “basic pleasure model,” in her police file. Daryl came up with the blacked-out “raccoon”eye make-up herself. Her costume, shown below, was designed by Michael Kaplan as a revealing sexy black outfit, with a dog collar, and high boots over torn hose . The costume set a fashion trend for the sexy punk look. She wears the outfit to draw the attention of Sebastian and to have him reveal the whereabouts of replicant-maker Dr. Tyrell.

Blade Runner (1982)Directed by Ridley ScottShown: Daryl Hannah (as Pris)

Blade Runner (1982) Directed by Ridley Scott Shown: Daryl Hannah (as Pris)

One of the eery scenes in the film is that off Pris sitting among the mannequins and marionettes in Sebastian’s apartment. She poses as one of the mannequins as Deckard enters looking for her. The image makes its own statement about the reality of a replicant. It took a few years for the fashion of torn hose to morph into torn jeans, but this fashion influence has had legs.

Blade Runner_deckard_looking_for_pris

The continual shooting of Blade Runner, from night through early morning, often with simulated rain, exhausted the cast and crew. Twice as many costumes had to be made since the simulated rain soaked the ones worn by the actors.  Friction began early when an unflattering remark made by Ridley Scott about the crew, comparing them negatively to what he was used to in the U.K., was leaked, creating animosity among the crew. Harrison Ford never got along with Scott and was usually irritated. And Ford never had any good chemistry with Sean Young either, as she was new to film acting. Meanwhile the financiers of the movie were threatening Scott, while meddling with the production.

Blade runner lower city

The film was greatly enhanced by the moody synthesized music of Vangelis. The score achieved an other-worldly but totally appropriate sound track. Production artist Tom Southwell actually listened to Vangelis music as he  painted set designs for the film.

Blade Runner 12 web

 

There has also been controversy over the various versions of Blade Runner. The latest version is the Final Cut from 2007. The voice over narration is eliminated. Harrison Ford had to provide the narration as stipulated in his contract, but to which he objected, finding it unnecessary and even dumb.  Some people still enjoy the voice-over, however. The film’s original “happy ending” was also eliminated, it having been forced on Scott by the financial backers.

One crucial scene remains in all versions, the end of life scene for replicant Roy Batty played by Rutger Hauer. He fights Deckard and in a chase sequence ends up saving Deckard’s life. Batty’s final scene was written as a long monologue about the nature of his existence. But Hauer provided his own shortened lines:

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.”

The Final Cut also reinserted a beautiful Deckard Dream sequence involving a unicorn. Not reinserted was a sex scene between Deckard and Rachael, a shame because it seems to add emotional depth to their relationship, while also emphasizing the likely transition of Rachael to a human. It was always a question mark in the movie whether he would “retire” her as a replicant, or whether some other blade runner would. At the end of the Final Cut they escape the Bradbury Building together, facing an uncertain future.

Blade Runner (1982) Directed by Ridley Scott Shown: Sean Young (as Rachael)

The future of a Blade Runner II is a little less uncertain. Ridley Scott had confirmed in the fall of 2013 that he is working on this project, although its release is definitely set for the future.

 

 

 

 

SILVER SCREEN’S RED CARPET GLAMOROUS GOWN AWARD

Silver Screen Modes is again awarding the Most Glamorous Gown Award for the Oscars red carpet in 2014. This award was started  for my previous blog The Silver Screen Modiste in 2009. Last year the award went to Jessica Chastain in an Armani Prive metallic gown.

Fashion trends have had their place on the red carpet, although the bigger trend lately has been the interplay between actor, stylist, and fashion designer. As stylists have taken on more influence, there have been fewer “what was she thinking” moments on the red carpet.  While the result has been an over-all improvement in the beauty of the gowns, their homogeneity has taken away the surprise factor in recent years. This started changing last year as fashion designers began working on custom designs for their favored clients. The more typical procedure in the past had several designs being submitted by a leading fashion house, or one where the stars and their stylists selected a runway design that was fitted for the star. Of course moody stars could always upset the plan and wear whoever they wanted, but nobody particulary likes being pictured on the Fashion Police as the “Worst Dressed.”

Fashion commentators are usually looking for trends, including color trends, on the red carpet. Color is always an individual taste, including, I’m afraid, being afraid to wear bright colors. Black, white, silver and gold, nonetheless,  are always striking Hollywood glamour colors and will always have a place on the award show red carpet, especially at the Academy Awards. Jewel colors can look amazing on the right complexion and hair color, and red is always a glamorous color. And surprisingly, a bright spring color works wonders on a cloudy day.

THE AWARD FOR MOST GLAMOROUS GOWN GOES TO:

 Most Glamorous 1

 

Charlize Theron in a Dior Haute Couture gown with a plunging neckline accessorized perfectly with a Harry Winston necklace. The straps are a bit unusual but serve to draw the eyes to the curve of her bustline, and are finished with nude fabric over the shoulder. The train is magnificent, carried with a see-through tulle, and giving her the glamorous mermaid silhouette.

There were many fabulous gowns at the Oscars, some of which did not appear on the red carpet. Two other gowns deserve special notice.

Most glamorous 3 Lupita

 

Lupita Nyang’o in a custom Prada pale blue gown with a plunging neckline and very full pleated skirt doted with sequins.. The gown was custom made for her by Prada. She accessorized it with a simple white headband. Lupita won Best Supporting Actress. This was one of the the two most most beautiful gowns of the evening.

 

Most glamorous 2 Amy

 

Amy Adams in Gucci Couture navy blue strapless gown with bust-line flaps complemented by faux pocket flaps. Amy was inspired by the 1950s and Vertigo (Kim Novak was a presenter). and wore her hair  in the Madeleine bun.

Most Glamorous cate-blanchett Robyn Beck

Robyn Beck photo

Cate Blanchett in Armani Prive is the other most beautiful gown of the evening. The gold-colored tulle and sequined gown was described by Cate as “It’s heavy but I love it.” One reason it was heavy is that it was studded with Swarovsky crystals. Cate won the Best Actress Award.

The Best Costume Award was given to The Great Gatsby. I had early predicted this award for 12 Years a Slave. Gatsy was a dazzling costume movie. Since all Academy members vote for the awards, it oviously impressed many voters. The 86th Academy Awards impressed me by the quality of the gowns. Bravo to all.