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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Style: Spanning the Decades

I am somewhat obsessed with vintage designer fashion.

As someone once said it can be easily overlooked that what is now called vintage was once brand new.  Of course that’s true but what I appreciate is the workmanship, attention to detail and luxurious fabrics the designers of that era used, which is almost impossible to find in the fast fashion market of today.  And many talented designers have ended up making their designs more accessible (or selling out) to appeal to the masses.  Although the prices are reasonable, the quality is not the same.

Photo by Richard Avedon.  Pierre Cardin’s coat of rose brocade.

This happened to famous high fashion designer Pierre Cardin.  The Italian-born French designer was best known for his geometric avant-garde designs. In the 1960s his use of stark tunics, goggles and helmets launched the Space Age look. Cardin expanded into the automobile market in the early ’70s and designed haute couture muscle car interiors. He now owns a chain of Maxim hotels and restaurants.  He’s 96 years old.

Irridescent silk evening gowns by Pierre Cardin, 1959
Mia Farrow in a Pierre Cardin beaded and sequined mini, May 1967.

Fashion returns to Modernism Week with the new Modernism Fashion Show – “Spanning the Decades.” Attendees will step back in time as they “Span the Decades” through fashion. They will be transported through the eyes of Coco Chanel, Emilio Pucci, Christian Dior, and Pierre Cardin as Mitchells Palm Springs collaborates with M Vintage to display “Haute Couture” at its best. Guests will be escorted to the Grand Warsaw Ballroom at Temple Isaiah to enjoy a glass of bubbly and nibblies and view the amazing fashion retrospective. February 18, 2 PM; $45

EMILIO PUCCI

Emilio Pucci was an Airforce 1 pilot under World War 2, who surprisingly started out making skiwear for a college team. Then he was approached by Harpers Bazaar in the late 40’s, to design for a European skiwear story. When raging reviews from the U.S. and tons of offers to manufacture still didn’t sway him – he set up his own house. Key pieces were swimwear, silk scarves, silk dresses and shirts – with amazing colorful prints. He later created the Braniff Airlines uniform (the bubble helmet).  Vintage Pucci in prisine condition is very sought after and expensive.

Pierre Cardin

See what I mean?  We don’t dress like this anymore. Not that I ever did only in my mind and while it’s somewhat of a relief it’s also kind of sad we don’t have the capacity to try so hard.  Because fashion is meant to be  fun.  But you can see that these designers were fabulously multi-faceted.  They tell their stories through their designs.

 

Style: girls in cocktail dresses

FEMININE ALLURE

Chanel cocktail dress, Vogue May 1926
Chanel cocktail dress, Vogue May 1926

While researching womens elegant evening wear from the 1920’s I came across these glam photos and wanted to share them.  I love this era which embodied elegance, decadence and fabulousness.

Marlene Dietrich, 1932
Marlene Dietrich
Silent film actress Thalia Barbarova, c. 1920s.
Silent film actress Thalia Barbarova
I don't know but I love the look
I don’t know who this is but I love the look
Three Model 1926. Photograph by Edward Steichen for Vogue. From left to right: Alden Gay wearing a black and white chiffon dress by Madame Frances and a wide-brimmed hat; Marion Morehouse, wearing a light-colored chiffon dress by Jay-Thorpe, with a wide-brimmed hat; Miss Collier, holding a parasol, and wearing a printed chiffon and lace dress with a Tuscan straw hat.
Three Models 1926. Photograph by Edward Steichen for Vogue. From left to right: Alden Gay wearing a black and white chiffon dress by Madame Frances and a wide-brimmed hat; Marion Morehouse, wearing a light-colored chiffon dress by Jay-Thorpe, with a wide-brimmed hat; Miss Collier, holding a parasol, and wearing a printed chiffon and lace dress with a Tuscan straw hat.
Myrna Loy, c. 1920s. (with pearls down the back)
Myrna Loy

Because let’s face it…one can never have too many cocktails cocktail dresses.

See you back here very soon!

Vintage Style/Décor: Pink Canary

midcentury modern—has never been more au courantcanary5canary8Pink Canary offers VINTAGE and UNIQUE items for the homecanary3
Specializing in midcentury modern, barware, art glass, pottery, and home furnishings. They have one of the largest selections of Vintage Glassware in the Desert. canary4
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New items are vintage inspired and include Candles, Pillows, Linens, and other furnishings.
canary2

Location: 160 East Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs, California

I like this for outside entertaining
I choose this set for outside entertaining
well afterall, it is Palm Springs
well afterall, this is Palm Springs

Photos: d king

Vintage Style – the thrill of the find

They don’t make em like they used tovintage2 (2)

Some Vintage shopping advice:

I don’t know about everyone else but I enjoy searching for a good vintage piece.  Something that is considered a “good find” so to speak.  This is not entirely true because I have never searched very hard,  most of the vintage things I’ve bought was found by accident. In other words I wasn’t really looking for anything specific, the stuff just found me (they find me everywhere). But it’s amazing what you can come across if you know what to look for and have some patience.  I’m usually delightfully surprised by at least one item.  The best places to shop of course are upscale areas in metropolises like New York, London or L.A.  I still have a pair of pants purchased from a flea market on Portobelllo Road in Notting Hill.  Well made clothes never go out of style.

This kind of shopping comes by way of specialty vintage boutiques (like Decades in Los Angeles where I once bought a small Gucci bag), vintage2vintage clothing fairs (where I scored my Pucci wedge sandals), consignment stores (make friends with the owner and they’ll let you know when something special comes in), auctions, on-line sales sites (1st Dibs?), flea markets, estate sales, even yard or garage sales. I bought a one-of-a-kind Fendi baguette from a yard sale of all places.  Never used (by the seller that is).  In fact it was so cheap that I wondered if it was a knock-off at first.  The “best-ever”bag find was bought by a friend of mine – a real steal.  She purchased a Louis Vuitton Speedy Bag for only $5.00 and It’s real (major bag envy because I paid full price for mine).  So we can benefit from the relatively small group of people who don’t know what they have or just don’t care.

If it’s an estate sale, head for the bedroom where the clothes of the lady of the house are often laid out.  Here you could be face-to-face with the situation vintage shoppers dream about – the discovery of an entire wardrobe of a person whose taste is much like your own, and in your size.  Keep dreaming, and make her a rich person who shopped in Paris, whose heirs care more about her Sisleys than her Schiaparellis.  It can happen. I came thisclose to scoring a vintage Chanel jacket that fit me to a tee rummaging through someone’s closet.  I no sooner put it down (never do this) before someone else snapped it up.  That opportunity has not presented itself again.  I think of it as “the one that got away” but I’m still dreaming….

Such sales in resort areas like Palm Beach, Long Island or Santa Barbara (I just bought a pair of Chanel costume earrings in *Santa Barbara) offer particularly rich possibilities but other suburban places and outskirts have yielded legendary vintage finds.  I have friends who are experts at recognizing quality vintage jewelry (a category onto itself) which really helps.

Here’s what you really need to know:

Obviously just because a garment is old does not automatically make it better. OLD is just OLD.

What you are looking for is vintage clothes (accessories, etc.) of great quality and interest.  One of the primary reasons for shopping vintage is the chance to buy a garment as beautifully styled and made as the couture clothes of today for less than you would pay for the cheesy, cookie-cutter stuff at the mall. This is easier to accomplish than you might think.  Many pre 60’s clothes were made by hand, using beautiful fabrics that are now too expensive for most manufacturers to use (like a perfectly cut navy gabardine blazer I once bought in Toronto with nice buttons) or they have ceased to be made at all.

You should not settle for anything other than perfect or near-perfect condition.  If the item is in the almost-perfect category make sure the problem is something you can fix.

Look for great styling, expensive or intricate fabrics, interesting finishing touches, and first-class hand workmanship.  These are the qualities that make a vintage garment a wearable classic.

You can always mix classic with your contemporary clothing, in fact it looks best to do so. Most of all have fun looking.  Remember, there’s only one of everything!

*the shop where I bought the earrings had one pair of Manolo Blahnik ornate jeweled flats that fit me. The store owner was going to let them go for only $20 but the toe was pointier than I like so I didn’t buy them.  Sometimes even if the shoe fits and the price is better than…you might have to unfortunately say “no” if the style doesn’t suit you.  You loss is someone else’s gain. Omg Only $20???  You ask yourself, should I have bought them anyway? Shades of Carrie Bradshaw…

Have you made any great discoveries?

Other Sources: Vintage Style – a great overall guide by Tiffany Dubin (former founder & director of Sotheby’s world famous fashion department store in New York) & Ann E. Berman (well-known freelance writer on art collecting and design for publications such as Town and Country, Architectural Digest, Martha Stewart Living & The Wall Street Journal) – Harper Collins. vintage1 (2)vintage1 p.s. buy the way, I bought the hard cover book at a garage sale during Modernism week in Palm Springs while out riding my bike.