20 December 2011

Dietrich's Fashion Advice for Dionne Warwick

Dionne Warwick's book, My Life, As I See It: An Autobiography, contains a funny anecdote about Marlene Dietrich tossing her clothes out because they were mere prêt-à-porter. Dietrich then played Warwick's fashion godmother by giving her a Balmain dress, which Warwick modeled on her Here I Am album cover (see left). Aside from gifts, Dietrich treated Warwick to her wisdom, such as the criteria for choosing a gown. No wonder Warwick called Dietrich "Momma"!

Now for dry technicalities. Did the Olympia concert in Paris, where Dietrich gave Warwick her big break, take place in 1963 or 1964? Warwick's book says the latter, while her official site lists the former. Whatever the case may be, I hope you enjoy reading from Warwick's book below:


  1. Fascinating. I've long thought Burt Bacharach was the bridge between the classic American songbook and the rock generation, and of course I knew his work with Dietrich, but I never realized that Marlene had such close ties -- and provided such an influence -- to the woman who was arguably pop's principal interpreter of Bacharach/David material (although Dusty Springfield and Gene Pitney did their share of gems from those composers, too).

  2. Apparently, some people in the U.K. might argue that Cilla Black was the voice of Bacharach/David's songs, but they must be easily pleased by the warblers at their local karaoke bar. I'd consider Dionne the voice of B&D's sound, especially because they wrote so many songs for her, commissioned her to sing on their demos, and produced her songs. Nevertheless, I'm a huge fan of Dusty's B&D recordings--my favorites being "The Look of Love" (specifically, the shorter version with lots of reverb) and "In the Land of Make Believe" (which took a B&D song to psychedelic places by adding a sitar to it).

  3. According to most of the sources it must have been in 1963. Besides, in November of 1964 MD spent just nine days in Paris. After she returned from USA she left very soon for London to perform at The Queen's Theatre.