As Seen In – Period film Costume appropriation…

I just came across this image of Judy Garland in this peculiar looking costume from the 1948 film The Pirate. Although strange, there was something about the tartan tam that seemed familiar. Sure enough the design was borrowed from this c. 1830 French illustration by Charles Philipon of a Parisian ‘modiste’ (stylist) trimming a bonnet (an original copy of this illustration is in the archives of the Fashion History Museum.) Although the bodice is not sitting quite right on Judy Garland’s shoulders and the print is too bold (and fights with the tartan tam for attention), it is otherwise quite a faithful reproduction of the original image.

Looking up the film on IMDB I discovered the costumes were done by the American born fashion illustrator Tom Keogh (1922 – 1980). His illustrations of Paris couture frequently appeared on the covers of French Vogue magazine in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Around that same time Keogh was also designing the annual Christmas windows for Galeries Lafayette in Paris. He designed costumes for the ballet in Paris, but The Pirate is the only film for which he is solely credited with designing the costumes…

I found a clip that shows her singing in the outfit (it looks a lot better than in the black and white image):

Film Costume Review – Jane Eyre – Oscar worthy

I have honestly lost track of how many renditions of Jane Eyre I have seen. Since the story-line stays the same it’s up to the visuals and acting to keep the film fresh and this version meets the challenge. I won’t comment on acting or directing because I am no expert, although several of the actors, especially Fassbender’s Mr. Rochester, have an authenticity about them that make the film work. The sets weren’t stellar – there was something inauthentic and distracting at times – throw pillows on a Rococo settee, a feature stone wall that looked more architectural digest than humble Yorkshire cottage, and an overly-gloomy hallway that you could barely see, even on a bright day with light pouring through the windows. However, the costumes were divine.

The costumer was Michael O’Connor who has a real talent and care for authentic costume design. His clothes are obviously researched from real garments. I don’t believe any original garments were used, other than some accessories like shawls and jewellery, so everything was built from shoes and corsets to bonnets and cloaks. The fabrics and fits were spot on and suitably chosen for the character and status of each individual. Every outfit was then thoughtfully styled, giving individuality in presentation – a difficult thing to do in an era when fashion was more dictatorial and conformity was more important than individuality.

I am now officially a fan of Michael O’Connor’s work that has included assistant costumer for Topsy Turvy and Oscar and Lucinda, and head costumer for Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day and The Duchess. I haven’t seen everything he has done (he also costumes non-period films) but of the films I have seen, the costuming is exceptional. He is setting a new standard for costumers to meet in the field of authenticity and I look forward to seeing more films costumed by Michael O’Connor. I also predict Jane Eyre will earn a costume nod and deserve the win at this year’s Oscars.