OSCAR 2017: RED CARPET GOWNS MOST GLAMOROUS

 

 

Silver Screen Modes’ Most Glamorous Gown Award for the 2017 Oscars stars and their most glamorous red carpet gowns is designated again. I started this award in 2010  for my previous blog The Silver Screen Modiste  and have been awarding it annually ever since.This award celebrates the glamour of old Hollywood  and the best new (and vintage) designs.

The gowns this year have been a combination of classic glamour and creative flights of fashion fancy, with beautiful results. We see more and more gowns from couture designers and from the runway, with occasional vintage examples. There were many beautiful dresses and fashions at the Academy Awards. Some were very elaborate and  even overpowering. Among the beauties, here are my selections.

The Most Glamorous Gown Award goes to:

To Emma Stone  in a bare-shouldered gold fringed and beaded Givenchy Haute Couture gown. This was a beautifully fitted and visually stimulating gown, with the fringe providing movement and the silver bugle-beads adding sparkle. While I’m not usually a fan of pale coloration that matches flesh-tones, this gold-silver combination worked perfectly.    

 

As notable mentions, Jessica Biel wore a stunning gold sequin and crystal Kaufman Franco form-fitting gown. It is accented by slits throughout, accessorized with a serious necklace.

 

(Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)

 

 

 

Taraji P. Henson also looked beautiful and classy in a deep décolleté  black velvet by Alberta Ferretti.

 

And the beautiful Brie Larson was also in black velvet décolleté, this gown by Oscar de la Renta, including  a ruffled train.

 

Fashion trends have their place on the red carpet, although the bigger trend over the last several years 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. The result has been an over-all improvement in the beauty (and glamour)of the gowns. But as some stars become more daring in their fashion choices in  a sort of revolt, we see gowns and outfits that don’t quite work.

The Golden Globes have also become more formal in recent years, increasingly competitive with the Academy Awards for the glamour of the red carpet gowns.  The January event showed the perennial glamour favorite looks of  the plunging bust line, backless gowns, or exposed leg exposing daring views and ample skin. This can be worn on a gown of satin, chiffon, or most popular of all, sequins of various colors and especially in gold or silver. Silver and gray in metallic finishes was popular this year, followed flashes of color in yellows,  reds and scarlet colored gowns. And there’s still nothing like sparkle. These trends continued at the Academy Awards of 2017.

 

The Oscar for Best Costume Design was awarded to Colleen Atwood for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. This is the movie I had predicted would win, but my predictions are 50-50, so this doesn’t mean that much. I couldn’t have predicted however, the debacle at the end of the Awards ceremony. To be honest. I had favored La La Land.

DEATH TAKES A HOLIDAY: TV MOVIE OF THE WEEK BLOGATHON

 

Death Takes a Holiday was a classic film made in 1934 before it was remade in 1971 as a TV movie. The original starred Fredric March and Evelyn Veneble, based on an Italian play of the same title by Alberto Casella. Our TV Movie of the Week Blogathon selection is the 1971 version, the ABC Movie of the Week also titled Death Takes  a Holiday. It features an excellent cast starring Yvette Mimieux as Peggy Chapman, Monte Markham as “David Smith,” Melvyn Douglas as Judge Earl Chapman, and Myrna Loy as his wife Selena Chapman As in the classic film, death makes his usual reaping visit, and ends up  falling in love with his victim. And who could blame him?

As the movie opens, Yvette Mimieux walks alone along the beach, a vision of beauty. The solo guitar score of Laurindo Almeida moves from peaceful sunny chords to darker airs as she swims underwater amidst kelp beds, where we finally see her still and lifeless body.

Yet in the next scene she is back on the beach, saved by a “David Smith.” After they introduce each other she kisses him, he surprised, she says, “I always kiss men that save my life.” She invites him to stay the weekend at her house, since his boat wrecked on her family’s island.

 

Over the course of a couple of days he learns about her family and its members. He talks with mother Selena about how she copes with the long-ago loss of her young daughter. He falls more deeply in love with Peggy, curious about her fascination with death. She explains her family’s history of misfortune. In pointing to a tree that is like a totem to her, she said that the ancient tribes believed that for every glorious victory there was a terrible defeat. She relates how during her ski-jumps she thinks about cheating death each time she reaches bottom.

 

The Judge her father is curious about David, and presses him about his background and family, sensing a growing closeness between his daughter and him. David avoids the subject. The Judge goes further and asks his attorney for research on him. The attorney tries to tell him some real news, that no one has died in 12 hours. And Peggy has a suitor that is also at the family retreat, growing increasingly jealous of David. He makes bold and tells David to leave, which has no effect

 

And now there is more news. In the depth of the Viet Nam war, through typhoons, building fires. and on the country’s highways,  around the world it seems, there have been no reported deaths in 24 hours. But amidst this news, remote on their island for a family retreat, It is now time for more family games, which include inflatable sport boat races between the brothers. As the judge, David and Selma watch from a beach lifeguard tower, they panic when one of the brothers falls off and his boat heads straight towards two of the children. But David reassures them, “They will be safe.” When the boat veers off at last, Judge Earl says, “I remember you now. You were there at my last three strokes.” And yes, death almost took him, but not quite. And so David asks him what keeps him hanging on so tenaciously to life. And Earl answers him, “Everything that matters to me, everything I love is here…I love people, what they can achieve, how they touch each other’s lives, what they can give one another…”

 

 

When Earl finds out Death is here for his daughter and not him, he begs him to take him instead. He is old and he suffers, despite what he has said about how he clings to life, his daughter has everything to live for. Death admits he has fallen in love with her, but he is powerless to change things. And later when Earl and Selena talk about what has happened, and Peggy joins in to find out that Earl has asked for David to take him instead, she leaves, saying she loves him and is ready to leave with him. Selena admonishes Earl that Peggy should love who she wants – even Death, and how should they judge who would be the happiest. (spoiler alert)

And while Peggy is walking among the trees she finds out that her own totem tree is about to be felled, caused by prior storm damage. Then she decides to jump off a cliff. But David runs and stops her in time, and tells her ecstatically that he has decided to stay on earth with her. She is happy he loves her but tells him he can’t stay because too many people will keep on living. She has decided to go with him, if they can go together, which he agrees to, and so ends the movie.

The movie was beautifully filmed. The principal actors made this magical realism movie believable and moving. It has no great dramatic moments but leads directly to the point of the story. Its use of the great actors of the classic era: Myrna Loy and Melvyn Douglas add depth, while prompting questions of why Yvette Mimieux didn’t became a bigger star, and even a bigger career for Monte Markham. It is certainly worth watching, better than many current movies seen on TV today, premium TV included. It was also remade in 1998 as Meet Joe Black, starring Brad Pitt as Death visiting Anthony Hopkins and his daughter played by Claire Forlani.

 

This post is part of The Movie of the Week Blogathon, hosted by The Classic Film and TV Café.

OSCAR BEST COSTUME DESIGN CONTENDERS 2017

 

The Best Costume Design Oscar nominees for the movies of 2016 offers a diverse and talented mix of designers and their creations. The five costume designers nominated and the movies they designed for were: Joanna Johnston for Allied; Madeline Fontaine for Jackie; Colleen Atwood for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them; Mary Zophres for La La Land; and Consolata Boyle for Florence Foster Jenkins. Here’s a look at the movies and the background brief on the designers’ work.

 

Allied stars Marion Cottilard and Brad Pitt in a World War II spy thriller where he is a Canadian spy and she is a French Resistance fighter. They fall in love but not all is what it seems.

Many of the scenes are set in Casablanca. Joanna Johnston was inspired by the looks of Ingrid Bergman in the film of that title, and also of Bette Davis in Now Voyager, both films designed by Orry-Kelly. But she also liked the costumes of Lauren Bacall, Katharine Hepburn, and Barbara Stanwyck. Below is a costume sketch for the outfit seen in the photo above. The skirt’s fabric was custom-printed and then box-pleated to line up the patterns perfectly.

Ms. Johnston believed the movie had the classic Hollywood feel, from the “gowns by Adrian” era. She called it the “Hollywood lift,” in its look, and an old-fashioned quality. For Brad Pitt, the tailor Michael Sloan from The Curious Case of Benjamin Bunny was hired, and Johnston also contracted with a military uniform expert for his uniforms.

Below, Marion Cotillard steps out in one of her stunning satin gowns.

This is the second Academy Award nomination for Joanna Johnston. She was previously nominated for Lincoln.

 

Jackie is a time-travel back to the sad days following the assassination of her husband President John F. Kennedy. The costume designer is Madeline Fontaine. The movie stars Natalie Portman as Jackie. The photo below shows Portman as Jackie, wearing a costume recreation of the pink Chanel suit and pillbox hat she wore the day of the assassination.

Ms. Fontaine and her team made the suit themselves, although Chanel sent the buttons used on the jacket.

An original design by Madeline Fontaine is this chic black dress with a buttoned strap shaping the neckline and décolletage.

 

 

Jackie is shown at left in a red suit she wore while giving a televised tour of the White House on Valentine’s Day 1962. The costume version is in a different shade of red is worn at right by Natalie Portman.

This is Madeline Fontaine’s first Academy Award nomination.

 

 

Based on the book by J.K Rowling, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them takes place in 1926. A British wizard Newt Scamander arrives in New York City with his collection of unusual magical beasts. There the relationship between magical and non-magical people in America is hostile., Newt gets involved in a war between factions seeking either to destroy magic or to make it the law of the land.

Colleen Atwood designed the costumes for the cast starring Eddie Redmayne, Colin Farrell, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, and Carmen Ejogo. “I love the nineteen-twenties in New York,” said Ms. Atwood about the setting of the movie. “It was a major time in America. It was before the Depression, so it was a crazy time of excess in all ways,” she added. All the costumes for the lead actors were custom made, “..adding layers of psychological insights and wit that help define exactly who theses people are – or might be.”

 

Alison Sudol stars as Queenie Goldstein, a Legilimens who can extract memories and feelings from someone’s mind. She does look mesmerizing in several of Colleen Atwood’s outfits.

Below is the costume for the character Seraphina Piquery, played by Carmen Ejogo. Seraphina is the President of the Magical Congress of the United States of America.

Below is a costume sketch for Colin Farrell’s character of Percival Graves. He is an Auror, a principal investigator of a group of magicians who work as special agents in New York.

Colleen Atwood has been nominated for twelve Academy Awards including this one, and the winner of three. She was previously nominated for: Into The Woods, Snow White and The Hunstman, Alice in Wonderland (Winner), Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet StreetMemoirs Of A Geisha, (Winner), Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Chicago (Winner), and Beloved.

 

 

Mia is an aspiring actress. Sebastian a jazz pianist. They both struggle to realize their dreams in Los Angeles despite the often soul-crushing commercial nature of show business. After frequent rejection they forge unexpected paths to stardom, but now the young couple strives to sustain the love they found.

Mary Zophres designed the costumes for stars Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, John Legend and pricipal cast.

 

 

Mary Zophres designed the canary yellow dress above for Emma Stone. its bright color picked after the designer reviewed past gowns the star had worn at red-carpet appearances. The color matched a particularly flattering Atelier-Versace gown she had worn in 2014. The basic style of the dress, perfect for the dance scene, is enhanced by hand-painted floral designs.

 

Ms. Zophres had particular film looks in mind. She cited Funny Face and Audrey Hepburn’s black dance pants as inspiration for the black pants that Mia wears walking through the lot. Similarly, the color of Mia’s emerald green dress worn at the Griffith Park Observatory is inspired by that of Judy Garland’s in A Star is Born.  Mary Zophres also remarked that Mia’s dresses get fuller as the movie goes on. Ryan’s clothing were all made for him. He was meant to look jazz-inspired, but his pants were a bit shorter to show off his two-tone shoes and his dancing. The shoes were purchased at a dance-shoe store in Los Angeles.

At the end, her dance dress is white, no doubt inspired by Cyd Charisse’s dress from the “Dancing in the Dark” scene in Band Wagon.

This is the second Academy Award nomination for Mary Zophres. She was previously nominated for True Grit.

 

Heiress Florence Foster Jenkins had been a champion of music her entire life.  Her own enthusiastic singing was awful. When she decides to give a concert at Carnegie Hall in 1944, her devoted husband doesn’t discourage her.  In contrast, he and a befuddled pianist work tirelessly to ensure that the event is well attended and taken seriously.

Consolata Boyle designed the costumes for Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant and principal cast. Since the movie was based on an actual character, research was used to base some of her stage costumes on actual costumes of Mrs. Foster’s own design. These were as unique and flighty as her own character

 

Consolata Boyle was challenged by the job but enthusiastic, ” …the whole idea of the project is so intriguing and so magical, the idea that somebody who lives  totally in their imagination like Florence did allow freedom for us to fly, and the fact that somebody as wonderful as Meryl was playing that central role was wonderful for me.” said Ms. Boyle. In the photo above Meryl Streep wears a Spanish-influenced costume similar to one Mrs Jenkins wore in her performance.

 

Ms. Boyle and her team sourced fabrics that were original to the late 1940s when the story took place. Luckily many were still available. Mrs. Jenkins devised her own stage costumes and “tableau vivant” outfits for her society circle gatherings. Boyle had to pad these for Meryl Streep. The most difficult costume to make was the white “Brunhilde” costume with wings that Meryl Streep wear as she is lowered onto the stage on cables.

This is Consolata Boyle’s second Academy Award nomination. She was previously nominated for The Queen.

 

The candidates are all worthy of their nominations and a possible Oscar. While the nominations are made by the Costume Designers branch of the Academy, all members get to vote on the winner. Historically, it’s the period films that succed, or fantasies failing a big historical movie. Contemporary films (like La La Land) rarely win. The historical movies nominated take place in the fairly recent past, 1920s for Fantastic Beasts, 1940s for both Allied and Florence Foster Jenkins, and 1960s for Jackie.  Out of these five films, the only one that has any big steam behind it is La La Land, which mitigates somwwhat the contemporary costume jinx. Yet it doesn’t have any big costumes or outfits to grab attention, either. It does succeed at defining character as it should, and a barista in today’s world doesn’t dress out of Saks 5th Avenue. Jackie was very fashionable, but its most stellar outfits were recreations of 1960s originals. I found Allied and Fantastic Beasts to have the most visually stimulating costumes. I must admit I’m a sucker for the 1940s look and occasional glamour of Allied, but Fantastic Beasts is a piece of costuming art. Florence Floster Jenkins is also very worthy yet such outfits are as off-puting as her voice. The Academy may very well go with the ground-swell for La La Land. I would pick Fantastic Beasts.