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Costuming Hitchcock: An Extract from Hitchcock’s Heroines by Caroline Young

Costuming Hitchcock: An Extract from Hitchcock's Heroines by Caroline Young

Writer Caroline Young has simply launched an interesting new guide entitled Hitchcock’s Heroines (revealed by Perception Editions). It celebrates and research the ladies in Hitchcock films; their affect, semblance and iconography. What’s extra, Young additionally examines the position costume design performs with these ladies, each the characters and the actresses who performed them, and the way they are often interpreted as excess of simply ‘icy blondes’. Right here we’ve an extract of the guide solely for Garments on Movie:

Kim Novak’s gray go well with the color of San Francisco fog in Vertigo, Grace Kelly because the too-perfect lady in Rear Window, and Janet Leigh’s black and white units of underwear to point each good and evil in Psycho – these are simply a number of the basic imagery of Alfred Hitchcock’s movies, the place the type and magnificence of his main woman was rigorously deliberate.

Hitchcock was meticulous concerning the visuals, and as his profession developed, he turned extra particular with the picture as, like a painter, he labored to create subliminal messages by means of color. Glasses have been a standard motif, signifying the unmasking of a lady reminiscent of Ingrid Bergman in Spellbound or Joan Fontaine in Suspicion, whereas a chook brooch on the lapel (resembling Fontaine’s in Suspicion, on the character of Madeleine Elster in Vertigo, or twin brooches in A Shadow of a Doubt to mirror the theme of doubles, with the 2 Charlies) acted as a warning signal, as birds in Hitchcock movies generally indicated darkish forces about to strike.

Janet Leigh in her character’s risqué but interpretably ‘good’ white underwear on the set of Psycho (1960). Costume design by Rita Riggs.

Whereas June and Anny Ondra in Blackmail have been two of Hitchcock’s early blondes, Madeleine Carroll was the primary heroine whose picture and character he really went out of his solution to form on display and the primary of his prototype ‘cool blondes’ in The 39 Steps, with costumes designed by Joe Stressner that included large bows and collars, as was a Hollywood costume development within the mid-1930s.

However it wasn’t till Hitchcock’s first collaboration with Edith Head on Infamous, making a glamorous wardrobe for Ingrid Bergman, that his visible sense of costume actually got here to the entrance. It was additionally the primary movie he had full autonomy as director and producer. David O Selznick had produced Rebecca and Spellbound, firing off his well-known memos to the wardrobe division to make sure costumes have been good.

After viewing costume designer Howard Greer’s preliminary sketches for Bergman in Spellbound, Selznick was dissatisfied. He felt they didn’t go well with the character, who was in her late twenties, disinterested in frivolity and romance, and devoted utterly to science. Garments additionally needed to match the finances of a lady in her first yr as a member of employees, but she was additionally to have delight in her look and look groomed. “Let’s not have her dressed as though she were a movie star, either as to the richness of the costumes, or as to the way in which hopefully they have been tailored,” stated Selznick.

Ingrid Bergman in Infamous (1946), which was costume designer Edith Head’s first collaboration with director Alfred Hitchcock.

Infamous marked the start of a thirty-year collaboration between Edith Head and Hitchcock. Certainly one of Edith Head’s skills was understanding methods to please each director and star, and she or he was conscious that Hitchcock was very particular and would point out clothes and color inside the script. Ingrid Bergman was to be plausible as a undercover agent, so the garments have been to not dominate. He additionally specified a palette of all black and white, with its contrasting mixture used to realize totally different results, like making her stand out in a scene the place she stands out in a vivid zebra patterned prime with sequins and an uncovered midriff. “In a black and white film the eye is immediately attracted to the stark contrast of black and white, since other colours become various shades of grey,” stated Edith Head. “Visually, she became the most important woman in the room.”

Our eyes comply with her as she strikes animatedly by means of the social gathering, topping up her friends’ drinks, with Cary Grant within the foreground as a nonetheless silhouette together with his again to the digital camera, in an fascinating reversal of the male gaze. The outfit and its revealing naked midriff was additionally handled with humour. “Don’t you need a coat?” Devlin asks her. “You’ll do,” she replies.

Later within the movie, Bergman’s robes turn into sleeker and extra managed than the zebra print as she should marry to infiltrate a Nazi spy ring. Head stated, “In other dramatic scenes, she was dressed either in pure white or solid black, and true to Hitchcock’s form, these colours reflected her mood.” Alicia’s white crepe dinner robe, with white fur and diamonds like bars round her neck, was designed to be pristine, whereas her dramatic, lengthy black robe for the social gathering was easy and unadorned, in order not to remove from the strain of the scene as she breaks into the wine cellar.

Publicity nonetheless of Grace Kelly sporting a really particularly chosen purple gown in Dial M for Homicide (1952). Costume design by Edith Head.

It was within the 1950s, Hitchcock’s golden period, when elegant blondes, similar to Grace Kelly, turned the dominant heroines of his movies. Hitchcock first forged Grace Kelly in Dial M for Homicide, as “she has fire and ice and great passion, but she does not flaunt it.” Hitchcock deliberate a color development for the character of Margot with a vibrant wardrobe firstly, turning into extra sombre because the story progresses, from brick, then to gray, then to black. The distinction between Margot as spouse and adulterer is made clear, with the transition from pale pink cardigan and skirt to the colourful pink lace gown and pink lips for a hearth embrace. Edith Head stated Hitchcock “had strong feelings that colour should never be so strong that it overpowered the scene or the actress. If the script called for a girl in a red dress, that was one thing, but to put her in a red dress for no reason was out of the question in a Hitchcock film.”

Margot wears a brick-toned button-down gown with three-quarter size sleeves on the night of the tried homicide, however after she is questioned, her costumes turn into darker. When she is being sentenced for her crimes, she wears a gray gown with a black line main from round her collar to her belt-line, creating the impression of a hangman’s noose.

Margot’s costumes have been designed by Moss Mabry, Warner Bros.’ head costume designer who had created James Dean’s pink jacket in Insurgent And not using a Trigger. Mabry designed and examined a number of totally different choices, particularly for the gown within the second scene through which Margot entertains her lover. Mabry stated of Grace, “She sold these clothes like I didn’t dream possible, and it was actually difficult to decide which ones she should wear in the film. Miss Kelly knows exactly how to stand, how to sit, and how to walk, and you have no idea how these things can ‘make’ or ‘kill’ a beautiful dress.”

Costume sketch of Grace Kelly’s first outfit worn in Rear Window (1954) – a gown that cleverly subverts expectations of her character’s bodily prowess and sensible resourcefulness. Costume design by Edith Head.

Grace Kelly was anxious to work with Hitchcock once more in Rear Window, and by the time she arrived in Los Angeles in late November for wardrobe fittings, Hitchcock had already instructed Edith Head on what types and hues she would put on to advance the story.

Sticking with the movie’s theme of voyeurism, Grace Kelly’s Lisa is a trend maven who’s used to being watched and admired. Lisa likes to show herself via glamorous costume, with an consciousness of making which means by means of what she wears. A pale “peach parfait” nightgown is worn by Lisa as “a preview of coming attractions,” to tempt Jeff to take a look at her somewhat than the neighbours. “How far does a girl have to go before you’ll notice her?” she says. She has intimate information of the style world, saying “if there’s one thing I know, it’s how to wear the proper clothes.”

When Lisa is first launched, she activates the lights one by one to disclose a robe with an off-the-shoulder black velvet bodice and full white silk organza skirt with layers of internet beneath. The complete ballerina-length skirt bobs up and down as she rushes across the crammed condominium, emphasising how a lot she dotes on Jeff. However as an alternative of impressing Jeff, it serves to forged additional doubt in his thoughts as as to if she will match his adventurous profession. Nevertheless it seems that Lisa is resourceful: she packs a frothy, satin negligee into her compact Mark Cross in a single day case so as to show that she will stay out of 1 suitcase.

Lisa’s black, silk organza cocktail gown with the pleated skirt turns into a sombre marker when she begins to consider that a homicide has taken place; her Balenciaga-styled uncooked silk go well with in Hitchcock’s favorite eau-de-nil, worn with a white halter-neck shirt, demonstrates that she is an unbiased profession lady. “The suit was the one Hitchcock had first seen in his mind’s eye, colour wise, and it caused a furore fashion-wise,” Edith Head recounted.

Publicity nonetheless that includes considered one of Edith Head’s “attention grabbing ensembles”, once more for Grace Kelly, this time in To Catch a Thief (1955).

By the point Lisa sneaks into Thorwald’s house, Jeff has discovered a brand new appreciation for his girlfriend, realising she is just not as frivolous as he thought. She wears a floral day gown, designed so as to add a way of vulnerability as she climbs up the hearth escapes and clambers over railings. The floral gown additionally connects Lisa to Mrs Thorwald, whose head is buried within the flower beds.

For her third collaboration with Hitchcock, Grace Kelly starred in To Catch a Thief. Edith Head designed “attention-getting clothes” that dripped in magnificence and wealth—bathing fits, sun shades, tailor-made sundresses, and robes with a Delphic silhouette. Kelly was given pale shades—azure blue, lemon yellow, pale coral – to work with the brilliant, Mediterranean location and progressively “warm up” with the character. “I deliberately photographed Grace Kelly ice-cold and I kept cutting to her profile, looking classically beautiful, and very distant,” Hitchcock stated.

Whereas the pale blue chiffon robe had tiny straps, the white night robe was strapless in order to behave as a clean canvas for showcasing the diamond necklace. There additionally needed to be sufficient material seen to point out that she was sporting garments in close-ups. The coral pink crêpe skirt and prime, which Francie wears through the picnic scene by which she drives at excessive velocity alongside the winding coastal street, was designed to be very female. Within the previous swimming scene, she had been humiliated by a youthful lady, and so now she needs to “make a play” for Robie and look as ladylike as potential, with white gloves and a pink, silk scarf. The color intensified with the drama, culminating in Francie’s outfit on the masked ball. She wears a Marie Antoinette–fashion golden wig, masks, and an eighteenth-century robe of gold lamé and mesh. The skirt was coated in golden birds, a motif widespread all through Hitchcock’s work, and which might trace at hazard to return.

Doris Day in The Man Who Knew Too A lot (1956), costume design by Edith Head. Day found that Alfred Hitchcock was notably exact about what he needed to see when it comes to costume.

In The Man Who Knew Too A lot, Doris Day was additionally dressed by Edith Head, enjoying a former singer and physician’s spouse who’s looking for her kidnapped son. Throughout a primary assembly at Paramount Studios, Hitchcock and Day mentioned the garments she can be sporting, and she or he discovered the director was “very precise about exactly what he wanted for my wardrobe.” Hitchcock requested Edith Head to design a tailor-made gray go well with for the scenes set in London, which shares robust similarities to the structured gray go well with Kim Novak wears in Vertigo. This go well with was a sensible costume for a lady who was travelling, whereas the color, mixing into the gloomy brick buildings and quiet streets of London, wouldn’t distract from the plot.

For night drinks and dinner at a Marrakesh restaurant, Day wears an organdie gown with inexperienced sprig design, layers of petticoats, and an identical wrap. Not solely did it mirror Hitchcock’s choice for inexperienced, however it heightened the sense of the character as a spouse and mom. The blue linen shirtwaist gown with a white belt and white basket was designed for daytime sightseeing, nevertheless it carries by way of to the drama within the police station. Hitchcock typically visualised a concord in each costume and set design, and so the color of this gown enhances the palette of blues and sand tones within the Moroccan scenes, standing out towards the orange of the Marrakesh bazaar whereas mixing with the pale blue of the lodge room. “I always looked forward to my fittings with Edith,” Doris Day recalled. “She was witty, quick, and very exciting. She dresses actors for the part, not for themselves alone. They weren’t right for me. But they were just what a doctor’s wife would wear. And that’s what I was playing.”

After Grace Kelly left Hollywood to marry into Monaco royalty, Hitchcock was by no means capable of absolutely shake off her attract. He appeared to seek out one other actress who might fill her footwear – first Vera Miles, and Tippi Hedren.

Kim Novak in her “silly suit” for Vertigo (1958), the uncomfortableness of which helped her get into character for the half. Costume design by Edith Head.

A lot is made from the coolness of the blonde, and Kim Novak in Vertigo was probably the most distant and ghost-like. Vertigo, a movie about obsession and id, is usually thought-about to be Hitchcock’s most autobiographical. It’s a hypnotic movie that mirrors his management over the picture of his actresses. Partly impressed by French arthouse cinema, Vertigo was extra aligned with the beatniks within the North Seashore and Greenwich Village espresso homes than a mainstream viewers.

Kim Novak performs each the mysterious Madeleine and the earthy Judy, whose identities are sure by what they put on. For the mysterious character of Madeleine, Hitchcock was very particular that she ought to put on a gray go well with with black heels. He advised Head “the girl must look as if she’s just drifted out of the San Francisco fog.” “I hated that silly suit,” Novak later stated. “But it helped me to be uncomfortable as Madeleine.”

The gorgeous black satin robe and coat lined with emerald inexperienced worn within the restaurant scene additionally helped appease Novak and take away the sting of the gray go well with. Hitchcock used color in Vertigo to color which means into each scene. Purple is the color of Scottie’s fears, whereas inexperienced, or ever-green, represents Madeleine (she even drives a inexperienced automotive). The primary time Scottie sees Madeleine is in a vivid purple restaurant, sporting that emerald cape. Judy is first launched in a inexperienced outfit to hyperlink her with Madeleine—a moss inexperienced pencil skirt, inexperienced sweater with polka dot collar and cuffs (to trace on the purple polka dressing robe worn by Madeleine), and a bit rabbit brooch on the neckline. When Judy tries to say her personal id, she chooses a lavender gown or a yellow shirt, however with a touch of inexperienced in a shawl and in a skirt to reference Madeleine.

Eva Marie Saint in North by Northwest (1959). Hitchcock truly took the actress buying to the Bergdorf Goodman division retailer in New York to pick her apparel. The movie’s general costume design was credited to Edith Head.

For Eva Marie Saint in North by Northwest, Hitchcock had particular concepts of how Eve Kendall would look as a spy and stored lady. Hitchcock advised Hedda Hopper, “I’ve extracted every bit of sex she has and put it on the screen. Also gave her beautiful clothes. I dislike drab females on or off screen.”

Hitchcock and Saint went purchasing at costly division retailer Bergdorf Goodman in New York, the place they seen a parade of fashions in numerous fits and robes, and Hitchcock felt like a wealthy man overseeing her wardrobe, “just as Stewart did with Novak in Vertigo.” One among Eve’s most hanging costumes is a black, long-sleeved cocktail gown printed with purple roses, which she wore to the artwork public sale. Hitchcock selected pink for moments of hazard, and these wine-red roses are a forewarning that her cowl could possibly be revealed. “He’d done his homework, I’m sure, and he didn’t have the models come out in anything but what he would choose, too,” stated Eva Marie Saint.

Janet Leigh as Marion in Psycho was likeable and interesting, a lot in order that her early demise on display is devastating to the viewers. Hitchcock was fastidious in creating a way of realism for the characters and despatched a photographer to Phoenix the place they discovered a woman like Marion, visited her residence, and photographed her bureau drawers, her suitcases, and the contents of her wardrobe. Hitchcock insisted Marion’s have been store-bought, not simply to economize but in addition to stick to the clothes price range of a secretary. Janet Leigh and costumer Rita Riggs visited Beverley Hills retailer Jax and located two shirtwaist clothes, one in cream cotton and one other in blue wool jersey, as a result of, in accordance with Riggs, “Hitchcock likes good wool jersey; it reads well in black and white.” There have been ongoing discussions as as to if Marion would put on black or white underwear, nevertheless it was lastly determined that she would put on each, to make a personality assertion about her good and dangerous sides.

Tippi Hedren in her iconic inexperienced costume for The Birds (1963), as designed, to be ostensively just like a Chanel go well with, by Edith Head.

Tippi Hedren’s expertise working with Hitchcock is usually thought-about the top of his obsession for blondes. For Hitchcock, his ego drove his want to create a star and mold her into the woman of his creativeness in The Birds.

For Hitchcock, the character started with the visible picture. Melanie Daniels was a “wealthy, shallow playgirl,” and her wardrobe needed to convey this in addition to not detract from the following terror. Due to Melanie’s cool, elegant persona, Edith Head designed a pale inexperienced wool shift gown and jacket with an analogous minimize to a Chanel go well with. Six copies have been made to permit for changes and tears throughout totally different scenes when Melanie is attacked by birds. To finish the look, Melanie was given a beige crocodile purse, which she by no means appears to be with out, and a mink coat which Hitchcock felt was very important to the character and made her look misplaced on the outboard motorboat. On the finish of filming, Hitchcock gifted the mink coat to Tippi, which she later bought to fund her wildlife sanctuary, maybe as a press release on her fraught relationship with the director.

Hitchcock’s movies proceed to carry fascination, and the look of his heroines nonetheless resonates with style designers and photographers recreating the subtle, tailor-made fashions of the ladies in Hitchcock’s films.

An extract from Hitchcock’s Heroines, written by Caroline Young and revealed by Perception Editions is on sale now. Pictures and captions chosen by Garments on Movie.

© 2018, Lord Christopher Laverty.