Studio Wardrobe in the Golden Age
Published by: The University Press of Kentucky
Imprint: The University Press of Kentucky
Sales Date: 08/29/2023
256 Pages, 8.00 x 10.00 in, 74 b&w illustrations, 25 color illustrations
- Published: August 2023
Since the 1920s, fashion has played a central role in Hollywood. As the movie-going population consisted largely of women, studios made a concerted effort to attract a female audience by foregrounding fashion. Magazines featured actresses like Jean Harlow and Joan Crawford bedecked in luxurious gowns, selling their glamour as enthusiastically as the film itself. Whereas actors and actresses previously wore their own clothing, major studios hired costume designers and wardrobe staff to fabricate bespoke costumes for their film stars. Designers from a variety of backgrounds, including haute couture and art design, were offered long-term contracts to work on multiple movies. Though their work typically went uncredited, they were charged with creating an image for each star that would help define an actor both on- and off-screen. The practice of working long-term with a single studio disappeared when the studio system began unraveling in the 1950s. By the 1970s, studios had disbanded their wardrobe departments and auctioned off their costumes and props. In Designing Hollywood: Studio Wardrobe in the Golden Age, Christian Esquevin showcases the designers who dressed Hollywood's stars from the late 1910s through the 1960s and the unique symbiosis they developed with their studios in creating iconic looks. Studio by studio, Esquevin details the careers of designers like Vera West, who worked on Universal productions such as Phantom of the Opera (1925), Dracula (1931), and Bride of Frankenstein (1931); William Travilla, the talent behind Marilyn Monroe's dresses in Gentleman Prefer Blondes (1953) and The Seven Year Itch (1955); and Walter Plunkett, the Oscar-winning designer for film classics like Gone with the Wind (1939) and An American in Paris (1951). Featuring black and white photographs of leading ladies in their iconic looks as well as captivating original color sketches, Designing Hollywood takes the reader on a journey from drawing board to silver screen.
1. Costume Design in the Movies
2. Universal Pictures
3. Fox Film and 20th Century-Fox
4. Paramount Pictures
5. Warner Bros.
7. Columbia Pictures
8. RKO Pictures
9. The Wrap Up
Christian Esquevin's name is synonymous with Hollywood. He has now written the definitive book on the history of film fashion and those who created it. Designing Hollywood is fascinating, illuminating, entertaining and informative. Costume design is a glorious and collaborative art from and it takes a masterful writer to weave together the stories, history and observations. Christian Esquevin is that writer who brings it all to beautiful cinematic life. Designing Hollywood is a MUST read!~Susan Claassen—Creator and star of the award-winning production "A Conversation with Edith Head"
This is a very informative and detailed compendium of the "Golden Era's" major studios and the echelon of costumes designers that passed through their costume departments over fifty plus years. It is a great go-to book about how and when movies were made and how they were designed, piecing together many forgotten stories that create a distinct picture of how the business originated and why costume design became so important.~Jean-Pierre Dorléac—Somewhere in Time, Quantum Leap
Christian Esquevin has documented the most comprehensive look into the world of costume designers, their creative teams and the great costume departments of Hollywood. I was fascinated with every detail in this book – something I've looked forward to for years! A remarkable achievement.~Randall Thropp, Paramount Pictures Archive
Anyone who is curious about costume design in the golden age of Hollywood and beyond will find this fact-filled book extremely useful. It's a cavalcade of famous names and their equally famous fashion creations.~Leonard Maltin, film critic and historian