18 December 2014

A Suite of Ivory Suits

Spoliansky in Berlin.
Bonhams sold an ivory cloqué Balenciaga evening suit from Marlene's wardrobe earlier this month (it fetched £3 250, premium included). According to the auctioneer's description, Marlene had gifted it to composer Mischa Spoliansky's daughter, whose family offered it for sale.

Spoliansky was one of the people who could have claimed to have "discovered" Marlene: he auditioned and cast her in two of his revues in Berlin. 

She made her first recordings as a cast member of 1928's  Es liegt in der Luft; the following year, Josef von Sternberg spotted her on-stage in Zwei Krawatten, and arranged her screen test for The Blue Angel. While Marlene went on to Hollywood stardom, Spoliansky emigrated to London in 1933, where he became a well-respected film composer. 

For decades, the pair would catch up when Marlene was in London. (Spoliansky later wrote one of Marlene's songs in Stage Fright and she included his lilting Auf Der Mundharmonika in her 1964 album, Die Neue Marlene). 

Here's the evening suit sold by Bonhams, and a photo of Marlene wearing a similar outfit  in 1962:

Spot the differences.
Dietrich wore similar ensembles to the one auctioned: in 1962, when she was received the Edison Award in the Netherlands; and in 1963, when she performed in London at The Royal Variety Performance. Both of those suits had differing detailing to one another, and the suit sold is again slightly different to both of those.

Dietrich in The Netherlands, 1962 (left); and Marlene Meets The Beatles at The Royal Variety Performance, 1963 (right).
[Photos: Bonhams & Crees Collection]

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