‘The Women’: the fashion show

As I was telling you yesterday, today is reserved to the fashion show sequence in the film The Women (1939). Many of Adrian’s films had a fashion show. Unlike the rest of the film, this was shot in colour. A great occasion to see the magical touch Adrian had with rich and vivid colours. An unforgettable parade of fashions. The presenter of the show states in the movie: “Here is our little peek into the coming season and, a glimpse of the future too.” How right she was, as Adrian’s designs have helped shape the world of fashion ever since.

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The military green coat and hat, the fur jacket with knitted sleeves (stills above), the beautiful brown palette (next two stills), the long, elegant gloves, there is so much fashion inspiration to be seen in these day-looks.
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Picnic time: the striking white and orange stripes on the first dress below – my favourite detail in this part of the fashion show. Adrian had a fascination with stripes, which led him to use bold stripes and stripes of extreme subtlety, sometimes even together.
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The evening gowns. Glamour and grace. I love the large pink and green flower placed on the waist of the black and white dress.
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Look at the stunning white and scarlet gown with a cape on! Does it look similar to something you’ve seen recently? Gwyneth Paltrow’s Oscars gown designed by Tom Ford, who listed The Women among the films that shaped his work.
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The neckline cut of the black gown! Simple, yet dramatic. I’m fascinated by this detail and I see it perfectly suiting a pencil skirt day-dress as well as a black or white evening dress, with a slightly bias-cut skirt.
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Red gown with a medieval helmet-styled hat and gold crown. The bordeaux cape with purple lining help create an amazing colour palette. The dolman sleeve is well seen on the gown in the second still below: a favourite Adrian feature, named for a Turkish garment and featuring a deep-cut armhole starting nearly at the waist and tapering down the arm to a tight wrist. Adrian had designed dolman-sleeved gowns for Norma Shearer beginning in 1929. The March 15, 1941, issue of Vogue showed a photo of a model wearing “that important newcomer, the dolman sleeve.” The magazine didn’t credit Adrian for his contribution. But Adrian was reluctant to claim credit for any fashion trend, saying that no style could be brought about unless its natural time had arrived.
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A taupe gown with a wrapped midriff, green gauntlet gloves and a headpiece scarf.

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Films provided perfect showcases for the fashions, especially when Hollywood found ways to incorporate fashion shows within the film plot. Director George Cukor did not support the fashion show scene however, saying later that the front office made him do it. After The Women, he downplayed the importance of fashion in film and, which would lead to Adrian’s departure from MGM.

images: still from ‘The Women’ (1939), captured by me; a source for the editorial content of this article was the book Adrian: Silver Screen to Custom Label


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