Sunday, 22 January 2012

Discovering the film & re-doing line drawing

I have finally had the opportunity to watch the film No More Ladies, which the suit I am making comes from. I had of course looked into the film at the start of this project, but it was a Region 1 only DVD, which would have been an expensive US-import, and would not have played on my DVD player anyway. However, by chance I discovered that a friend had an old recording of the film which I was able to watch, and glean much more information regarding the costume and its context from.

The film is a typical light-hearted romantic comedy (of sorts) which is typical of the 1930s in that it represented and allowed an escapism for audiences in the grip of the Depression.  In the film, Joan Crawford plays a society girl who marries her sweetheart whilst knowing that he is a philandering ladies' man. Her husband soon goes back to his womanising ways, and her reaction is to throw a huge party inviting all of his ex-flings in order to embarrass him. At the end he is remorseful and they reconcile. The plot line is very shallow, but it is clearly meant to be taken as a simple piece of light-hearted entertainment.

The huge lapels and slim-line skirt of the suit, I discovered, are a design device used throughout the film: more than one outfit has the huge lapels! Here is just one:

This was a very interesting discovery. The extravagant, over-the-top costumes (due in no small part to the lapels!) contrast strongly with the bare, almost stark interior sets. The costumes are definitely a display. The extravagant costumes therefore form another part of the film's feeling of light-hearted other-worldliness: in the context of the American economic depression the escapism of the shallow, vacuous plot is heightened further by the eccentric costumes, which reference silhouettes of 1930s fashions strongly, whilst proving to be their own category of clothing: that is, that of film costume.

Unfortunately the print of the film is very bad; however you can get an idea from these stills I have taken, as screenshots. By watching the film I surmised that there are a few inconsistencies with that and the publicity shot that I was referring to for the costume design: for instance, the pleats on the skirt are clearly two inverted kick pleats rather than one pleat at the centre front. The silhouette of the jacket is also made clear.

More film stills are included in my hard-copy research file!

I will re-do the line drawing in order to tie in with my new discoveries about the suit's design details and amend the patterns accordingly, although overall there aren't too many changes.

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