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31 January 2011

A Million Grains of Golden Caviar

That's what Diana Vreeland called this breathtaking, beaded gown when she exhibited it at the Metropolitan Museum in 1974 as part their Costume Institute's "Romantic and Glamorous Hollywood Design" retrospective.
The dress, designed by Travis Banton for Marlene to wear in Angel, was reportedly inspired by the mastery of Fabergé. It cost $8 000 to produce in 1937 -- too expensive for Paramount executives to allow Marlene to add this one to her personal collection, as was her usual custom. Altered, it appeared in several Paramount movies long after its original model had vacated her dressing room on the lot. By the 1990s, the gown was in such fragile condition that it required extensive restoration. It is said that the gown is now preserved in a private collection.


When Vreeland first contacted Marlene about the latter's old movie costumes, the star seemed less interested in golden caviar than in exactly who had told the ex-editor in which hotel she was currently staying:


UPDATE: To see a sketch of this costume, look here!

29 January 2011

A Letter To Marlene


Letter from Jean Cocteau to Marlene Dietrich, 1953.


A Letter from Marlene

Letter written to Maria Callas in the 1950s.

Schlenzy!


Be sure to check out The Land Behind The Mirror, a new episodic graphic novel by Tobias Tak featuring the wizard Gaboon and his glamorous friend Schlenzy -- who is based on you-know-who!

22 January 2011

The Director And The Designer




Marlene with Ernst Lubitsch and Travis Banton during the production of Angel (1937).

The Dress That Jamie Lee Snipped?




Marlene gave Jamie Lee Curtis one of her old evening dresses to wear to the 1983 or 1984 (sources differ) Academy Awards. Curtis was at the time engaged to one of Dietrich's grandsons.
Apparently, the gown had originally been made for Marlene to wear in 1942's The Lady is Willing; for the Oscars, Curtis had the gown altered and shortened.
Is this the dress?
The shortened version of the gown was sold by Christie's in 1999 for $ 9 200. The auction house credited it as a Jean Louis creation. Jean Louis only started to work at Columbia Pictures in 1944.
In the film, Dietrich's gowns are credited to Irene.

21 January 2011

Travis Banton Costume Sketches for Dietrich Sold

Two costume designs by Travis Banton for Marlene Dietrich were auctioned by Christies in London on 25 November 2010:


Lot Description
Marlene Dietrich The Scarlet Empress, 1934 Travis Banton (1894-1958)A watercolour and pencil costume sketch of Marlene Dietrich as Empress Catherine II of Russia in the Paramount Productions film The Scarlet Empress, 1934, the drawing showing Banton's exquisite design for the blue gown, fur hat and muff accessories worn by Dietrich, signed and titled in pencil Marlene Dietrich "Catherine II" Travis Banton, and ink-stamped Paramount Productions, Inc. 5451 Marathon Street, Hollywood, Calif.; additional inscriptions to reverse, to include a 'Production Ink Stamp' completed in pencil Prod # 1475, Date 8-23-33 For Miss Dietrich Costume # 4; a printed label typed Miss Dietrich with additional handwritten detail Return 19157-19157, and an additional handwritten pencil inscription to edge Miss Ilse Medows [Banton's cutter and fitter] -- 21½x14/1/2in. (54.6x37cm.); accompanied by a black and white photograph of Dietrich in costume [later printing]. (Price realized: £10,000)


Lot Description
Marlene Dietrich The Scarlet Empress, 1934 Travis Banton (1894-1958)A watercolour and pencil costume sketch of Marlene Dietrich as Empress Catherine II of Russia in the Paramount Productions film The Scarlet Empress, 1934, the drawing showing Banton's consummate design for a jewelled blue ball gown, necklace and tiara worn by Dietrich, signed and titled in pencil Marlene Dietrich "Catherine II" Travis Banton, and ink-stamped Paramount Productions, Inc. 5451 Marathon Street, Hollywood, Calif.; additional inscriptions to reverse, to include a 'Production Ink Stamp' completed in pencil Prod # 1475, Date 8-3-33 For Miss Dietrich Costume# 4; a printed label typed Miss Dietrich with additional hand written detail to left edge Miss Ilse Medows [Banton's cutter and fitter] -- 21½x14/1/2in. (54.6x37cm.); accompanied by a black and white photograph of Dietrich in costume [later printing]. (Price realized: £5,000)

[Photos: Christie's]


20 January 2011

Noel and Marlene, 1973


Marlene accompanied Noel Coward to the New York premiere of "Oh Coward" in January 1973. It was Coward's final public appearance. Earl Wilson's column reporting the event is reproduced below.


DIETRICH PLAYS NURSE TO DISABLED NOEL COWARD

Earl Wilson, 18 January 1973


NEW YORK, N.Y – Marlene Dietrich’s greatest performance as a modern Florence Nightingale is one that only a few of us saw.


Thare are many sharpshooters out after the glamorous grandma or great-grandma-to-be but when she assisted an aging, stooped, arthritic Si r Noel Coward, now 73 to her reported 71, up and down difficult stairs at the “Oh Coward” night at the New Theater and party at the Trattoria, we had to admit that Marlene was at her best and not seeking publicity.


In fact, at the Trattoria, she told one press lady, "I’m not speaking to you anymore." The press lady said, “You’ve just done me a big favor."


But there was Marlene in a pinkish lame gown (Chanel) actually helping hoist Sir Noel to his seat and saying to him, “It’s all going to be all right, we have made it this far, dear love”.


Sir Noel smoked his cigaret and fanned his flowing pocket handkerchief. Marlene backed away into brick wall and allowed busty Arlene Dahl, wearing something new in bosoms, to get into the pictures. Arlene said that her long dress became entangled on the seat and she told Sir Noel, “I may be on your lap.” H replied, “Don’t worry. I’m very broad-minded.”


As Sir Noel kissed and otherwise saluted the stars who came to the show in his honor, and to the party, one got to wondering whether he was arthritic or just liked to be petted by Anita Loos, Helen Hayes, Ethel Merman, Joan Sutherland, Glynis Johns, Celeste Holm, Phyllis Newman, Myrna Loy, and some others.

A fan came up and said to Marlene, “I saw you on TV. You were beautiful.”

“I hope so,” Marlene said. “But you should see me on the stage.” A shrug said that the real Marlene could only be seen in person.

19 January 2011

Leather


Holographic Marlene

At the Boulevard of Stars, Berlin's answer to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, you can have yourself snapped alongside Marlene. Boulevard of Stars, near Potsdamer Platz, opened in September; by pressing a button a holograhic image of Marlene is projected against a glass plane.

PHOTO : VOGUE.IT


18 January 2011

17 January 2011

Jean Louis Double Take, Part 2

Gown by Jean Louis for Marlene Dietrich, 1957.

Gown by Jean Louis for Marilyn Monroe, 1962.

16 January 2011

A Jean Louis Double Take

Gown designed by Jean Louis for Marlene Dietrich in The Montecarlo Story (1956).
Gown designed by Jean Louis for Lana Turner in Imitation of Life (1959).

12 January 2011

Theatre Royal, Drury Lane (1971)


We remember Marlene's 1971 visit to London, where she appeared at a midnight matinee charity event at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.



News footage of Marlene arriving at Heathrow.



Interview: Marlene's opinion on women's lib (click to enlarge)


Review of the performance from the Evening Standard (click to enlarge)


Post performance meet and greet.