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01 October 2014

Making Fashion: Two New Exhibitions (With Books!)

Two current exhibitions celebrate the work of those who helped shape Dietrich's image:

Photographer Horst P. Horst photographed Dietrich on several occasions for Vogue. A major career retrospective, focussing on the photographer's work at the fashion magazine, is currently on show at London's V&A (where it will run until 4 January 2015). 

Photographer of Style was was opened by Carmen Dell’Orefice, the one-time Vogue model who worked with the photographer from 1946. Using over 250 photographs from the magazine's archive — alongside items of clothing, Horst's papers, and film clips —  it explores Horst's creative efforts in collaboration with models, designers, artists and and stars like Marlene. 

Visitors to the exhibition will also be able to see all 94 of the covers Horst shot for Vogue, in addition to new exhibition prints of some of his colour work, printed from his original large-format transparencies.

The website about the exhibit includes fascinating information, including brief film footage of Marlene's friend, Alexander Liberman (whose photographs of her were published in 1993's An Intimate Photographic Memoir).  

A book accompanying the Horst exhibit is also available.

Across the pond, at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, an exhibit on a more intimate scale explores the combination of jewellery and fashion during Hollywood's golden age. 

None of the threads and baubles on view are Dietrich's — although a costume design sketch for Desire is shown  — but there are echoes of her among those on display. 

For example, the costume items include a Travis Banton evening gown designed by Dietrich's costume collaborator for her one-time co-star, Anna May Wong and there are platform shoes that once belonged to her Paramount pal,  Mae West.

The jewellery on show provide a rare opportunity to see the work of Trabert & Hoeffer-Mauboussin up close. The house, which made Marlene's fabled suite of emerald jewellery (which she, playing the chicest of jewel thieves, wore in Desire), is represented by various items from the thirties to the fifties: notably, a multi-use platinum, emerald and sapphire necklace once owned by actress June Knight.

Hollywood Glamour: Fashion and Jewelry from the Silver Screen will be on show in Boston until 8 March 2015.

The book, The Jewels of Trabert & Hoeffer-Mauboussin, draws on the museum's collection  to chart the collaboration between the firms of Trabert & Hoeffer and Mauboussin during the thirties and forties.

29 August 2014

El Morocco Memories



With Clifton Webb, c 1937.
The zebra print on the banquettes was really dark blue, but that pattern (which reproduced so well in newsprint photos) served as background for the rich, the famous and the climbers of a generation and clearly identified their location at Manhattan's El Morocco nightclub.

The club, originally opened as a speakeasy, on 54th Street in in 1931, claimed to have invented not only the velvet rope at the entrance, but Sibera, too (on the wrong side of its tiny dance floor, to which the socially undesirable were banished). Nanette Fabray remembered: “One entered, and there was a hierarchy of where one sat. The first table on the right was the best; the second was reserved for the owner, John Perona. You didn't dare go unless you were perfectly turned out.”