I've had this post brewing in my head for a little while now, and it seemed like actually writing it would be the best way to get back into action. Especially since it has to do with some of my favorite films and their delicious, inspiring, and ever-exciting style.
The first film that really turned me on this way (and inspired my life-long love of fashion,) was Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window. This was the very first film my family rented when we unwrapped our brand new video player way back in the 1980s and it's just as fascinating to me today. This was the first time I really came to notice just how much costume could tell the story; in Rear Window it serves as another character, setting up the main characters' relationship in a film that is sparse on sets and changes.
As I've come to know the rest of the Hitchcock library, I've realized that all his films feature women who are as equally alluring and stylish as Grace Kelly playing Lisa Fremont. They're all strong, unusual, backed into difficult corners, full of flaws, and yet still able to land the overwhelmingly attractive leading man. Hitchcock always made certain his women were on an equal standing with their men, creating complex and tightly controlled characters that are all designed by the same hand, yet remain wholly unique. So, with inspiration from my friend Sophia at Chic & Charming, I've put together a little look at some of the Hitchcock dames with all of their modish victories, wacky neuroses, strengths, fragilities and foibles...
actress: Joan Fontaine
role: The 2nd Mrs. de Winter
leading behaviorism: mousyness
weakness: rich, lonely widowers with suicidal tendencies
sartorial inspiration: whatever's hanging in the gallery
iconic fashion: English country chic - tweed skirts and cardigans
favorite food: scrambled eggs
beauty tip: a new haircut and permanent will be just the thing
accessory: a priceless, but broken figurine, hidden in a drawer
essential prop: big, spooky house on the coast of Cornwall
essential atmospheric film effect: thick, low-lying fog
aversions: Mrs. Danvers, the housekeeper
breakthrough moment: "I am Mrs. de Winter now."
actress: Ingrid Bergman
role: Alicia Huberman
leading behaviorism: binge drinking
weakness: American agents
sartorial inspiration: lots of draped jersey
iconic fashion: Euro/Latin - black evening gown with a deep V back, accessorized with a lace fan
favorite food: chicken and champagne with a view of Buenos Aires
beauty tip: a health spa in the Andes Mountains
accessory: key to the wine cellar
essential prop: bottles full of uranium ore
essential atmospheric film effect: the extreme close-up
breakthrough moment: realizing that there's more in the coffee than cream
actress: Grace Kelly
role: Margot Mary Wendice
leading behaviorism: naivete
weakness: American crime writer ex-boyfriends
sartorial inspiration: your ordinary London housewife
iconic fashion: quietly wanton - a red lace cocktail dress
favorite food: just cocktails
beauty tip: going to jail can ravage a girl's looks
accessory: a silk stocking that needs mending
essential prop: missing housekey
essential atmospheric film effect: camera angles from up high and down low
aversions: High Court judges
breakthrough moment: finding the scissors on the desk
actress: Grace Kelly
role: Lisa Carol Fremont
leading behaviorism: clotheshorse
weakness: cantankerous invalid photographers
sartorial inspiration: whatever just got off the Paris plane
iconic fashion: Park Avenue perfection - cocktail gown with black bodice and embroidered tulle skirt
favorite food: lobster, french fries and a bottle of Montrachet from The 21 Club
beauty tip: "a woman going anywhere but the hospital would always bring makeup, perfume and jewelry..."
accessory: Mark Cross overnight case
essential prop: binoculars
essential atmospheric film effect: a complete Greenwich Village city block
aversions: knives wrapped in newspaper
breakthrough moment: breaking into the neighbor's apartment
actress: Grace Kelly
role: Francie Stevens
leading behaviorism: being a rich, headstrong girl
weakness: retired jewel thieves
sartorial inspiration: Louis XV and a Texas oil well
iconic fashion: something icy-looking but no jewelry: "I don't like cold things touching my skin."
favorite food: picnic of chicken and beer overlooking the Mediterranean
beauty tip: light makeup but always suntan lotion
accessory: silver roadster convertible
essential prop: black cat
essential atmospheric film effect: fireworks
aversions: younger French girls
breakthrough moment: "The Cat has a new kitten."
actress: Kim Novak
role: Madeline Elster/Judy Barton
leading behaviorism: trances
weakness: retired detectives
sartorial inspiration: "You're looking for the suit that she wore for me. You want me to be dressed like her..."
iconic fashion: a plain grey suit from Ransohoff's
favorite food: dinner at Ernie's
beauty tip: get a full makeover...twice
accessory: vintage necklace
essential prop: mini bouquet of roses
essential atmospheric film effect: rapid zoom & reverse zoom: the "Vertigo" shot
aversions: California Missions
breakthrough moment: "Don't you see - it wasn't supposed to happen this way..."
actress: Eva Marie Saint
role: Eve Kendall
leading behaviorism: flirtatiousness
weakness: advertising executives on the lam
sartorial inspiration: the quiet side of blonde bombshell
iconic fashion: little black dress and a handgun
favorite food: brook trout in the dining car
beauty tip: just be a big girl in all the right places
accessory: pearl choker
essential prop: Mount Rushmore
essential atmospheric film effect: wide open spaces
aversions: The Cold War
breakthrough moment: "I never discuss love on an empty stomach."
actress: Janet Leigh
role: Marion Crane
leading behaviorism: secret sexpot with a desire for "decency"
weakness: divorced hardware store clerks
sartorial inspiration: office girl - button-up shirts and pencil skirts
iconic fashion: torpedo bras and slips
favorite food: one of Norman's sandwiches
beauty tip: long, hot showers
essential prop: getaway car
essential atmospheric film effect: a Bernard Hermann score
breakthrough moment: pulling off the highway to find a motel room
actress: Tippi Hedren
role: Melanie Daniels
leading behaviorism: practical jokes and compulsive lying
weakness: tall, handsome lawyers
sartorial inspiration: the chic suit will take you anywhere
iconic fashion: green tweed sheath and jacket for three days straight
favorite food: martinis on a hilltop over Bodega Bay
beauty tip: toothbrush and granny gown from the general store
essential prop: caged lovebirds
essential atmospheric film effect: bird's eye view
aversions: crows, gulls, finches, sparrows...
breakthrough moment: Seeing the crows gathered on the jungle gym.
actress: Tippi Hedren
role: Marnie Rutland
leading behaviorism: compulsive behavior derived from childhood trauma
sartorial inspiration: unobtrusive, elegant
iconic fashion: what the neurotic wife of a rich man wears: dramatic white evening gown with white fur trim
favorite food: a quiet, family dinner at the country house
beauty tip: lots of hair dye: red, then blonde, then brown, then blonde...
accessory: beauty case
essential prop: a disapproving mother
essential atmospheric film effect: flashes of light and flashbacks
aversions: the color red
breakthrough moment: "You don't love me. I'm just some kind of wild animal you've trapped!"
To catch up on your Hitchcock Dames watch Turner Classic Movies tonight, April 1st, for "Hitchcock in the 60s". The lineup includes The Birds, Marnie, and Psycho...