Helen Rose Vintage Runway Show

Designing Woman Helen Rose

Helen Rose (February 2, 1904 – November 9, 1985) – Photo courtesy of © 2018 Palm Springs Historical Society 

Though Helen Rose may not be a household name like her contemporary Edith Head, she was a costume design legend in her own right.

Lena Horne, Cyd Charisse, Deborah Kerr, Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, Lauren Bacall , Esther Williams, Lana Turner, Judy Garland – They all loved to be dressed by Helen Rose.

She Made Them Beautiful

Elizabeth Taylor in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF MARGARET HERRICK LIBRARY, ACADEMY OF MOTION PICTURE ARTS AND SCIENCES, WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC.
Photo: Tammy Preast. Elizabeth Taylor’s dress in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”

Palm Springs Life presented a runway production of the Palm Springs Historical Society’s Helen Rose Collection donated by Barbara Marx (Mrs. Frank Sinatra) on Monday, February 25th.

I was among those who were lucky enough to have a ticket to her glamorous sold-out show.  Held behind the gates of the stunning private Thunderbird Country Club in Rancho Mirage, we sipped on champagne and ate a delicious lunch while waiting for her creations from classic films to come to life on the runway.

A brief history – La Vie en Rose:

A resident of Palm Springs, Rose won two Academy Awards for Best Costume Design, for The Bad and the Beautiful in 1952 and for I’ll Cry Tomorrow in 1955.  She was nominated a further eight times and was also very well known for designing famous wedding dresses of the era. She designed the famous wedding dress for Grace Kelly when she married Prince Rainier of Monaco in 1956. She also designed clothing for Elizabeth Taylor in the movies Father of the Bride and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof as well as Elizabeth Taylor’s wedding dress when she married Conrad “Nicky” Hilton. The show did not disappoint.  Susan Stein, fashion editor for Palm Springs Life Magazine, did a wonderful job as MC for this event. The models were as gorgeous as the gowns and outfits. Simply stunning afternoon.

Photo: d. king – Carol Channing’s dress and mink stole from Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend.
Photo: d. king – Grace Kelly dress

Rose stepped in to do Lena Horne’s hair on set of the 1943 film Stormy Weather when the studio hairdresser refused to work on a black woman, and the star became her lifelong friend thereafter.

Photo: d. king – Audrey Hepburn’s dress from My Fair Lady.
Photo: Tammy Preast. Black strapless: Lana Turner’s ensemble from The Merry Widow
helenrosekathy2
Photo: Kathy Wright

 

Photo: Kathy Wright
Photos: d. king

These images are just a sampling of some of my favorites.   I met some very interesting women in that room.  Some I will see again for sure. In the meantime…

FASHION WEEK

takes place March 16-23rd – held at The Gardens on El Paseo in Palm Desert.  Tickets are on sale now https://fashionweekelpaseo.com/

MC Susan Stein, fashion editor of Palm Springs Life Magazine. Photo: Tammy Preast
Friend Tammy Preast. Dress by London designer, Karen Mullen. Shoes, Vince Camuto
Me with friend Kathy Wright
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Personally speaking, what could be better than combining Art with Fashion?

making the best impression
making the best impression

Moving forward as we look back

Combining art & fashion with ‘Dior Impressions’ – a new design book about the ‘Master.’

Another fabulous coffee table book.  Whether cut with ballooning bustles or embroidered with a multitude of chiffon petals, Christian Dior’s dresses evoked the light, color and fluidity in the work of the French Impressionists.  And it wasn’t by chance.  A lover of both art and flowers, Dior found tremendous inspiration in the plein air paintings of Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.  ‘Dior (Rizzoli), a new book published to accompany an exhibition at the Musee Christian Dior in Granville, France, explores the 19th-century art movement’s role in shaping the fashion house – from Dior’s very first designs to a Raf Simons (the current designer) 2012 couture gown, the pastel colors of which recall a Monet canvas.  K.N. for W Magazine.

Natalie Portman models for Dior
Natalie Portman models for Dior

A little bit of fashion history: “The future has arrived and it’s all about dreaming of the past” the essayist and novelist Kurt Anderson once wrote.  This was true of the 2013 Fall shows.  Ideas from decades old collections showed up on the runways and felt entirely au courant.  This was particularly central to Raf Simon’s second ready-to-wear collection for Dior.  With a passion for art similar to Monsieur Dior, Simons embroidered early Warhol fashion illustrations onto dresses and embossed them onto clutches.

Charlize Theron wears Dior
Charlize Theron wears Dior

It doesn’t take a student of fashion history to understand the allure of a coquettishly punk cocktail number, nipped in at the waist in the most feminine, flattering way.  Fashion’s tendency to sample and recycle is certainly nothing new.  So, when it comes to reinterpreting sartorial history, Simons says “it’s important to think of fashion as part of life. The past can inform, but nostalgia should not be a part of it.

Taken from an article written by Karin Nelson – This Old Thing?